Locker suffers foot injury during Titans' loss to Jaguars
NOV 10, 2013 5:02p ET
The metaphorical injury came with the Titans' embarrassing 29-27 loss to the previously winless Jacksonville Jaguars, who had lost their first eight games by an average of 22 points. The win also snapped a 13-game losing streak dating back to last season when they also beat the Titans in November.
The real injury came when Titans quarterback Jake Locker hurt his right foot while being tackled while running an option play in the second quarter and didn't return to the game. His status going forward will be determined by tests Monday morning.
A victory over Jacksonville in front of an otherwise stunned 69,143 in attendance at LP Field would have pulled the Titans (4-5) to within one game in the AFC South division race behind Indianapolis (6-3), a surprise 38-8 loser at home today to St. Louis -- and guess who comes calling on the Titans for a nationally-televised game Thursday night? That's right, those very same Colts.
"We just didn't play very well," Titans head coach Mike Munchak said after his team committed four turnovers -- including a fumble by running back Chris Johnson on the team's first play -- and a safety in the loss. "That goes without saying, probably, but I need to say it.
"You can't fumble on the first snap of the game when you have a run. We did some things you can't do against any team, let alone against a team that we knew was struggling."
It appears the Titans have lost Locker for at least Thursday's game against the Colts. He addressed the media after the game while on crutches and wearing a boot on his right foot and said tests will be done Monday to determine the extent of the injury.
"I don't know exactly how (the injury) happened," said Locker, who this season had previously missed two games -- losses to Kansas City and Seattle -- with knee and hip injuries. He also missed five games last season with a shoulder injury.
"At this point, you hope and pray it's not (a season-ending injury) and just hope for the best," Locker added. "It's tough. You want to be out there. You want to be on the football field with your teammates."
Munchak said he would be surprised if Locker would be able to play Thursday against the Colts.
"I can't imagine (Locker) would be able in three days to play as sore as he was," he said. "We'll just see."
Despite the loss, the Titans still gained 362 total yards compared to Jacksonville's 214. In relief of Locker, backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 22-of-33 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns and nearly rallied the Titans to victory in the second half.
Trailing 22-13 with just under six minutes to play, Fitzpatrick guided a five-play, 72-yard scoring drive to pull the Titans within 22-20 with 4:14 to play. He completed four straight passes, including a 26-yarder to wide receiver Kendall Wright that took the ball to the Jaguars 9-yard line. Fitzpatrick capped the drive with a 4-yard run on a draw play.
After the defense held the Jaguars on downs, the Titans got the ball back with 3:13 remaining and trailing by only two points. But on the third play of the drive, Fitzpatrick was stripped of the ball while in the pocket by blitzing cornerback Will Blackmon, who raced to the end zone to give Jacksonville a 29-20 lead with 2:32 to play.
Even then, the Titans still marched right down the field on the next possession to pull within 29-27 with 40 seconds remaining when tight end Delanie Walker hauled in a 14-yard scoring pass from Fitzpatrick. The Jaguars recovered the ensuing on-side kick and ran the clock out for their first victory under rookie head coach Gus Bradley.
"We had plenty of opportunities there in the second half to come back," said Fitzpatrick, who started for Locker but played poorly during his two-game absence. " ... There's a lot of stuff that happened in that game that didn't go our way, and a lot of it was because of us. There's nobody to blame but us."
The Titans held Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew to only 41 yards on 21 carries, while veteran quarterback Chad Henne completed 14-of-23 passes for 180 yards with no touchdowns, two interceptions and a paltry 49.2 rating. Conversely, Titans running back Chris Johnson, who had gained 150 yards in last Sunday's win at St. Louis, was held to 30 yards on 12 carries.
"I thought it was a great illustration the first half when we played pretty well," said Bradley, whose team never trailed and led 13-7 at halftime, "and then how were we going to play in the second half? Then, we come back and then when it got close, can we stay in here or are we going to talk at the end of the game about we got to learn to finish?
"But we don't have to, and that's great. And now we've got to take the next step."
Leading 13-7 at halftime, the Jaguars marched the opening drive of the second half 79 yards on eight plays to build the lead to 20-7. Henne completed all four pass attempts on the drive, which was capped by a 5-yard scoring run untouched around the left side by backup running back Jordan Todman.
Jacksonville was aided on the scoring drive by two personal foul penalties called on Titans strong safety Bernard Pollard. One was a late hit on Henne as he was sliding to the ground, while the other came when a blitzing Pollard leaped and landed on top of Henne's head after he threw a pass from the pocket.
The Titans pulled to within 20-10 on their first possession of the second half when kicker Rob Bironas made a 39-yard field goal. The big play of the drive was Fitzpatrick connecting with rookie receiver Justin Hunter on a 40-yard reception.
Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner made his league-leading fifth interception of the season off an errant pass from Henne intended for wide receiver Cecil Shorts, giving the offense the ball at the Jaguars' 26-yard line. But Tennessee couldn't convert on a single first down and had to settle for a 37-yard field goal by Bironas to pull within 20-13 with 12:50 to play.
Jacksonville took a 22-13 lead on a safety with 7:44 remaining when Titans center Rob Spencer, who was subbing for injured starter Brian Schwenke, was called for holding Jaguars tackle Sen'Derrick Marks in the end zone while rushing Fitzpatrick.
"Those things should not happen in the league," Munchak said of his team's miscues. "We put ourselves in bad spots. Even when the defense got us turnovers, we fumbled back to them.
" ... Yeah, we fought back. We had chances. And with two and a half minutes left, we thought we were going to win the football game by a point."
On the Titans' first play from scrimmage of the game, Johnson fumbled the ball. Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny forced and recovered the fumble. The Jaguars then handed the ball three times to Jones-Drew, the last of which was a 6-yard scoring run up the middle.
After consecutive offensive series with three plays out without a first down by the Titans, the Jaguars extended the lead to 10-0 midway through the first quarter on a 32-yard field goal by kicker Josh Scobee. Henne had two big completions on the drive -- a 27-yarder to tight end Marcedes Lewis and a 22-yarder to wide receiver Cecil Shorts -- to get into field-goal position.
The Jaguars turned the Titans' second turnover of the first half -- an interception thrown by Jake Locker that was picked off by Jaguars cornerback Dwayne Gratz -- into a 44-yard field goal by Scobee and a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter.
After Titans middle linebacker Colin McCarthy picked off a pass from Chad Henne to give Tennessee the ball at the Jaguars' 34-yard line, the Titans gave the ball right back to Jacksonville when a botched hand-off from Locker to Johnson was fumbled.
Locker had been injured on the previous play and was unable to reach Johnson for the exchange. Locker didn't return to the game after the fumble.
Fitzpatrick entered the game to engineer an eight-play, 54-yard scoring drive to pull the Titans with 13-7 with 41 seconds remaining in the first half. Fitzpatrick completed all five pass attempts on the drive, including a 9-yard scoring strike to tight end Taylor Thompson to cap the drive.
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