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Sunday, August 14, 2005



NFL FOOTBALL


Owens opens eyes with
circus catch in first game

JACKSONVILLE » As Chad Owens changed into his street clothes after his first NFL game, he was busy taking congratulatory phone calls.

His Jaguars had just beaten the Miami Dolphins 27-17 and Owens managed two catches for 61 yards.

The second reception was an eye-popping circus catch for 48 yards that brought a huge roar from the 64,072 fans at Alltel Stadium.

The crowd-pleasing grab came in the fourth quarter on a pass thrown by third-string quarterback Quinn Gray. Owens was running stride for stride with a defensive back and appeared to be trying to break up an apparent interception.

As Owens jumped, he popped the ball up with his bottom arm and controlled the ball with his other arm and cradled it to his body as he landed.

"It was nice to get that first catch, but the second one was my favorite," Owens said. "I was trying to break up the interception, but I was also trying to go for the ball and I was fortunate to pop it up there and concentrate enough to bring it in."

It was enough to catch the eye of head coach Jack Del Rio.

"Our young receivers really showed up," Del Rio said. "Owens made that spectacular catch and Matt (Jones, Jacksonville's first-round pick) made some plays."

Owens' first catch came in the third quarter with Jacksonville driving for a score after recovering a Dolphins fumble.

Jaguars backup quarterback David Garrard drilled a short pass to Owens in the right flat, and Owens turned it into a 13-yard gain.

"I hope I proved something tonight," Owens said. "That's nothing new for me. I've always had to prove myself."

Owens was less thrilled with his play on special teams.

Teammate David Allen returned a punt 76 yards for the Jags' first score. Owens had three punt returns for 19 yards and a kickoff return for 20 yards.

"I had one good return," Owens said. "But it's just something I have to get used to. The speed here is different. I'll keep learning, and I'll keep getting better."

It's hard to imagine there were 10 plays better yesterday, but Owens said he wouldn't be rushing home to see if his catch made the Top 10 plays on ESPN's SportsCenter.

"It would be nice, but it's not like I'm going to go home and glue myself to the TV and tape it," Owens said. "I'm just really happy to get out here and play, and for the team to win."



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