5 things to know after Titans beat Jaguars 20-16
The Tennessee Titans finally have a division win.
One more might just keep coach Mike Munchak around.
The Titans turned in their most complete game in weeks, maybe
even months, to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-16 Sunday and end
a three-game losing streak.
Shonn Greene and Chris Johnson combined for 181 yards rushing
and a touchdown. Nate Washington scored on a 30-yard reception in
the fourth quarter. And Tennessee’s defense stuffed Maurice
Jones-Drew on a key fourth down late.
All were huge carrying the Titans (6-9) to their third win since
September – and first AFC South victory in five tries.
”The second half was finally how we wanted to play,” said
Munchak, whose team lost eight of its previous 10 games.
As the losses mounted, Munchak’s future became murky. Getting
swept by Jacksonville surely would have created cause for concern
in Tennessee’s front office.
But the Titans overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half
and held Jacksonville (4-11) to 85 yards after the break.
And they made just enough plays down the stretch.
Washington slipped behind Alan Ball and caught Ryan
Fitzpatrick’s pass early in the fourth for the go-ahead score. He
finished with six catches for 117 yards.
The Jaguars were in position to take the lead after that, but
Ropati Pitoitua tackled Jones-Drew for a loss on a fourth-and-1
play at the Tennessee 20 with 5:21 remaining.
”This thing could have gone the other way,” Munchak said. ”It
didn’t. We’re not happy with this season. The best we could do is
to finish out the season by beating two division teams. We got one
today, finally, and we’ll be doing our best to get one at home next
Tennessee closes the season against lowly Houston, and winning
out could help Munchak’s case.
”There were a lot of reasons it was an important game for us,”
Fitzpatrick said. ”Just the locker room after, to get that winning
feeling back, to be able to get in victory formation at the end of
the game and take a knee, that’s the kind of stuff you want.
”We haven’t been able to feel that for a long time.”
Aside from Tennessee’s much-needed win, here are five things to
know about the Titans and Jaguars following one of three games on
this weekend’s NFL schedule that had no playoff implications:
MEESTER’S GOODBYE: The Jaguars honored retiring center Brad
Meester with a reception – the pass-catching kind. Offensive
coordinator Jedd Fisch called a screen play for the 14-year veteran
who announced Wednesday that Sunday’s game would be his home
finale. Meester reported as an eligible receiver, moved from center
to tight end and then caught the screen pass. He had fellow
offensive linemen Uche Nwaneri and Austin Pasztor out front and
plenty of open space. But Meester ran right into Nwaneri’s
backside. ”I couldn’t figure out what to do,” Meester said. ”Am
I going outside? Am I going inside? Is he moving?” The play gained
9 yards and set up Jacksonville’s first touchdown.
SIX PACK: Johnson needs 50 yards in Tennessee’s season finale
against Houston to become the sixth player in NFL history to run
for 1,000 yards in each of his first six seasons. If Johnson does
it, he would join Barry Sanders, Curtis Martin, LaDainian
Tomlinson, Eric Dickerson and Corey Dillon in the exclusive
LEWIS’ ROLL: Marcedes Lewis’ hot streak landed him in the
franchise record book. Lewis caught a touchdown pass in his fourth
consecutive game when he hauled in a 4-yard pass following
Meester’s catch in the first quarter. Lewis tied the franchise
record for consecutive weeks with a TD reception held by Reggie
Williams (2007) and Cecil Shorts III (2012).
FOURTH-DOWN FUN: In a relatively meaningless game, both coaches
gambled early and often on fourth down. The Titans converted three
of four attempts, using one fourth-down run to set up a field goal
in the second quarter. Another conversion came two plays before
Washington’s go-ahead TD catch. Tennessee’s failed try came at the
Jacksonville 1-yard line. The Jaguars were 1 of 3 on fourth down,
with the one conversion leading to a field goal.
HUGE MISS: One of the biggest plays of the game was a blocked
extra point. After Jacksonville scored to take a 13-6 lead just
before halftime, safety Bernard Pollard blocked Josh Scobee’s extra
point. It loomed large when the Jaguars trailed 20-16 and were in
field-goal range late. Instead of being able to tie the game,
Jacksonville went for it on fourth-and-1 and got stymied.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org