Football

Jags don't want to be Bengals' first victim

Drop all the talk about 0-16. From receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh's perspective, there's no chance it will happen. Not with his winless Cincinnati Bengals, anyway.

Halfway through the season, the Bengals (0-8) are at the bottom of the NFL and their fans are starting to wonder if there's even a smidgen of opportunity for a win during a tough second-half stretch of the schedule.

"Never crossed my mind," Houshmandzadeh said, dismissively. "We're not going to lose every game. It's just not going to happen. I don't mean to sound like this or that, but that's just not going to happen. Every game you've played? Nah."

No team has ever gone 0-16, finding someone, somewhere along the way to knock off. The Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4) can't afford to let it be them on Sunday.

While the Bengals have played far below even their lowest expectations, the Jaguars have been losing close games and fading away. They're four games behind undefeated Tennessee in the AFC South, and approach the midpoint of their season feeling like underachievers.

"Guys are definitely upset and disappointed," quarterback David Garrard said. "We definitely had bigger hopes for ourselves, other than where we are right now."

Well, at least they're not 0-8. "No, we're not," Garrard said, "but sometimes it feels that way."

Their challenge on Sunday is to not let a down-and-out team get up and running.

The Jaguars are the only team in the league that's had every game decided by seven points or less. The last one, a 23-17 loss to Cleveland in Jacksonville, took a lot out of them. Garrard had another impressive game, accounting for 342 of the Jaguars' 380 total yards. All it proved was that a one-man show closes down pretty fast.

Garrard hasn't thrown an interception in the last four games, a streak of 150 passes. He has thrown at least 30 passes in each of the last four games. He led the Jaguars with 59 yards on scrambles against Cleveland.

Despite the quarterback's consistent play, the Jaguars are 2-2 in that stretch. They have to get their running game going — and fast — if they want to keep thinking about the playoffs.

"Hopefully, we have pressed the reset button and try to clear all that out," said running back Fred Taylor, who had 24 yards on eight carries against Cleveland. "We know what it is."

The Jaguars have won their last four games against the Bengals and nine of their last 10. If the trend continues, the Bengals would fall to 0-9 overall for only the second time in franchise history; the 1993 Bengals opened 0-10. They're coming off their most lopsided back-to-back losses in franchise history — 38-10 to Pittsburgh and 35-6 at Houston.

Around the league

Packers: Green Bay released Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, the franchise sacks leader, on Saturday. The defensive end had been with the team for nine seasons and appeared in 124 games, starting 74. He had 74½ sacks for Green Bay, passing Reggie White's 68½ in 2007.

Browns: Cleveland ended Ryan Tucker's season by placing the offensive lineman on injured reserve with a knee injury. The injury kept Tucker out of the previous two games. He missed the first four games of the season because of a hip injury.

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