The Jacksonville Jaguars' red-zone woes cost them a win last week.
They'll look to take better advantage of their chances Sunday when they visit the Tennessee Titans, who are in the midst of one of the longest home losing streaks in league history.
Jacksonville (4-7) built momentum by winning three of four, including a 19-13 victory over the Titans on Nov. 19. The Jaguars took a step back Sunday, though, falling 31-25 at home to a San Diego team which had lost six straight.
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They outgained the Chargers 420-369 but reached the end zone once in four red-zone possessions. San Diego, meanwhile, converted on four of five opportunities.
Jacksonville has scored touchdowns on only 41.7 percent of its red-zone trips to rank 30th in the NFL, and 26.7 in the past four contests. It's also allowing opponents to score TDs on a league-high 67.6 percent of red-zone possessions.
“It hasn't cost us the last couple of weeks,” said tight end Julius Thomas, who caught a career-high nine passes for 116 yards and a score. “But you play against a team like the Chargers with a lot of veterans out there and they find a way to punch it in. You look down at the scoreboard at the end of the game and you say, 'If we score two more touchdowns instead of field goals, we get this one.'”
Two of those drives were killed by penalties on Blake Bortles for throwing from beyond the line of scrimmage. Bortles is 10 of 23 in the red zone in the last four games and his 47.5 red-zone completion percentage on the season ranks 26th.
Tennessee (2-9) took a late 21-17 lead against Oakland last week after trailing by 11, but lost 24-21 in controversial fashion. B.W. Webb was flagged for holding receiver Amari Cooper on an incompletion on fourth-and-eight at the Titans' 36, and the Raiders completed a 12-yard TD pass two plays later with 1:21 remaining.
Interim coach Mike Mularkey was upset with the call and said the officials missed a false start and offensive pass interference by Oakland on the same play.
“So I vented my frustration about that, and they said if you guys have any questions on that, call them, because they said it was a poorly officiated play,” Mularkey said. “It should never have even started, the play never should've started.”
Tennessee's 11-game home skid is tied for the third-longest ever. The record is 14 in a row by Dallas in 1988-89 and St. Louis from 2008-10. The Titans' most recent home victory was 16-14 over Jacksonville last Oct. 12.
Jaguars receiver Allen Hurns is in the league's concussion protocol, though he hasn't been ruled out for Sunday. He's caught 40 passes for 758 yards and seven TDs.
A Hurns absence could mean more targets for Thomas, who reached the end zone for a second straight week Sunday after scoring once in his first five games with Jacksonville. Thomas ranked second among tight ends with 24 TDs over the last two years, but building a rapport with Bortles has been slowed by a broken right hand in the preseason and an abdominal injury.
“Me and Blake are going to continue to grow,” he said. “Like I tell you guys all the time, it doesn't happen overnight. We were able to connect and we'll continue to do the things in practice that we need to do to start to understand each other more, but it's coming along.”
Tennessee tight end Delanie Walker has emerged as Marcus Mariota's favorite target. Walker has averaged 86.8 receiving yards in his last four games and had eight receptions for a season-high 109 against the Jaguars two weeks ago.
Bortles needs two passing TDs to break David Garrard's single-season team record of 23, set in 2010. He's thrown at least two in six of his last seven contests.