Mike Thomas was having the best afternoon of his career even before the final play of the game - his winning reception against the Houston Texans.Confidence in himself has never been Mike Thomas' problem. Sunday in the Jaguars 31-24 win over the Houston Texans, the Jaguars showed just how much confidence they have in the second-year receiver, as well. They went to him in crucial situations and Thomas delivered.As a result, he notched a career high in receiving yards, even before scoring the game-winning 50-yard touchdown. Thomas had 99 yards before the game-winner and finished with 149 yards -- three more than Houston's All-Pro receiver Andre Johnson.
"I guess the more plays that I make, the more he'll come to me," Thomas said. "The more confidence he'll have in me. I wouldn't be out there if the coaches, Dave himself and the team, they didn't believe in my ability."
He was confident in his abilities even before his coaches and teammates were. Almost to a fault, some said of the second-year Jaguars receiver.
"We've had to kind of [say], 'Slow down there young man, let's learn the game, the way it's supposed to be played,' " Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said. "But he's really matured. He's making great plays for us, impact plays."
Entering Sunday's game, Thomas led the team with 33 catches this season for 387 yards and had one receiving touchdown. Though considered the Jaguars' second receiver after Mike Sims-Walker, his role has grown slowly but surely.
On Sunday, Garrard threw to him nine times and only threw to Sims-Walker four times."We keep talking about how Mike Thomas is an explosive receiver and he continues to make plays," Garrard said. "He really shows that he turns into a running back when he gets the ball in his hands. He does an awesome job with that."Thomas was responsible for three of the Jaguars' five longest plays -- the 50-yard game-winner, a 27-yard catch on a first down in the second quarter and his 20-yard end-around.Early in the fourth quarter, Thomas caught a 13-yard pass on a third down that kept a Jaguars touchdown drive alive.Just before the two-minute warning before the end of the game, quarterback David Garrard perfectly placed a pass to Thomas as he was getting hit, and Thomas picked up 14 yards on the play.But when Thomas remembers Sunday's game, what stands out won't be all of that. It'll be a tip-drill play called "rebound" that won the game. Thomas was the "scoop man," tagged to hang back and wait for tight end Marcedes Lewis to tip the Hail Mary pass over to him.As Garrard saw Houston cornerback Glover Quin go for the ball, he hoped Quin would just bat it down instead of intercept it and ruin his passer rating.Quin did bat the ball down, but right into Thomas' arms, who ran into the end zone with no time left.Thirty minutes afterward, Thomas still couldn't believe it."It definitely was a surprise," Thomas said. "You don't expect that kind of play to go the way it's supposed to go. I caught it. I was a little shocked and stunned."The rest of his production, he expected from himself."I'm very confident," Thomas said. "I've got a lot of God-given ability. I'm a guy that plays with a lot of confidence. I guess some would say swagger."