Allen Rossum, starting at right cornerback with Jason Webster (hamstring) and Kevin Mathis (hamstring) unable to play, gave up a 20-yard completion to Jimmy Smith on the second defensive play of the game.
Rossum redeemed himself two plays later when Smith failed to catch another big gain along the left sideline, but the precedent was set. Including a 47-yard Hail Mary pass he completed to Ernest Wilford on the last play of the second quarter, Leftwich had 179 yards passing when David Garrard replaced him midway through the third quarter.
The most spectacular play was a 48-yard Matt Jones' 48-yard reception. Running past free safety Keion Carpenter down the middle of the field, Jones, a first-round draft choice from Arkansas, reached out with his left arm and cradled the ball for a beautiful diving catch.
Leftwich, the seventh overall pick from 2003, pumped twice before launching the long pass to Jones. Two snaps later, Smith avenged DeAngelo Hall's pass breakup on Atlanta's first defensive play as the 13th-year receiver took advantage of the left cornerback's mistaken decision to keep his back to the ball.
Smith only had to turn quickly, and Leftwich's 17-yard pass was right in his hands. LaBrandon Toefield ran for a 4-yard touchdown on the next play as Jacksonville cut the lead to 10-7.