The Tennessee Titans wrapped up an ugly season by making some NFL history. Mike Munchak thinks their young talent showed enough to keep him on the job as head coach for another season.
Mike Mularkey’s job security in Jacksonville, along with his general manager’s, looks to be much more at risk.
Tennessee became the first team in NFL history with two players scoring twice on returns in a game as the Titans beat the Jaguars 38-20 Sunday in their season finale.
”We got a glimpse of what we should be capable of doing more regularly on Sundays,” Munchak said.
Darius Reynaud scored on two punt returns and Zach Brown returned two interceptions for touchdowns all in less than 5 minutes, and the Titans (6-10) finished by winning two of their final three games. Reynaud also became the first player in franchise history to return two punts for TDs.
Titans owner Bud Adams will decide if that’s enough to keep Munchak with two years left on his contract after Tennessee set a franchise mark for most points allowed in a season with 471, worst in the NFL this season.
”It’s about winning football games and believe me, he’s not going to keep me in the job just because I’ve been here,” said Munchak, who has worked for Adams for 30 years as a player and coach.
”I think it’s all about business, and it’s about who can do the job. Who do you want representing your ball club? And I feel that I’m the best person for that job.”
The Jaguars (2-14) wrapped up their worst season with their 12th loss in 13 games.
Now owner Shad Khan has to decide whether to fire general manager Gene Smith and possibly Mularkey. Their last best hope for this season ended later Sunday when Denver routed Kansas City 38-3, giving the Chiefs the top draft pick in April with the Jaguars at No. 2.
Mularkey dodged the question when asked about their futures.
”We all work extremely hard, and everybody has from Gene on down, and not to have any reward at all from these games it’s been difficult,” Mularkey said.
Fans showed their unhappiness with Tennessee’s second losing season in three years by staying away, but the Titans at least made it interesting as Reynaud also set a franchise record with 160 yards on punt returns to go with his TDs of 69 and 81 yards.
Brown scored his two TDs after dropping another possible interception in the second quarter.
The Titans needed the 28 straight points from defense and special teams to take control on a day where their offense produced just one touchdown and a 48-yard field goal by Rob Bironas.
The Jaguars outgained Tennessee 375-221 and held the ball for more than 32 minutes. Mike Harris even blocked a Brett Kern punt and ran it back 19 yards for a TD with 2:16 left.
”We had total control of what we were doing and we were moving the ball, so it’s on us,” Henne said.
But Tennessee also sacked Henne seven times and finished with three interceptions.
Jacksonville led 14-7 with Henne tossing a 5-yard TD pass to Jordan Shipley and a 30-yarder to Justin Blackmon.
The Jaguars made Keith Toston the fifth different running back to start a game this season, and he had a career-high 66 yards on 12 carries by halftime as the Titans missed tackles and dropped three would-be interceptions. Toston finished with 74 yards.
The Titans took the lead for good in the span of 75 seconds as Brown picked off a Henne pass and returned it 79 yards for a touchdown with 1:48 left in the second quarter.
Derrick Morgan sacked Henne to force the Jaguars to punt, and Reynaud raced untouched 69 yards for a TD with 33 seconds left.
The Titans finally forced the Jaguars three-and-out to open the third quarter, and Reynaud made franchise history by returning his second punt 81 yards as he first went to his right before reversing back to the left and going up the sideline with rookie Coty Sensabaugh throwing a key block. That TD put the Titans up 28-14.
”When I saw Coty, my eyes just got big,” Reynaud said.
Two plays later, Tommie Campbell deflected a Henne pass that Brown picked off and ran 30 yards for his second TD and a 35-14 lead.
”The first one I dropped it, but coach told me that he was going to throw me another one,” Brown said. ”I was just waiting for me. He threw it to me two times.”
Notes: This was the 17th time in Tennessee history with multiple return TDs in a game. … The Titans also had three return touchdowns Sept. 23 in an overtime win over Detroit. Reynaud had a 105-yard kickoff return in that game. … The Seahawks had four interception returns for TDs on Nov. 4, 1984, against Kansas City in a 45-0 rout, and three different players scored those TDs. The Titans finished 1-5 in the AFC South … Blackmon’s five TDs tied Matt Jones (2005) for most by a rookie in Jacksonville history. … Jaguars TE Marcedes Lewis had a career-high 103 yards receiving.