Titans turn in complete game, beat Jaguars 20-16

For the first time in weeks, maybe even months, the Tennessee

Titans looked like the team coach Mike Munchak envisioned.

The Titans had a power running game, some play-action success

and even a defensive stop down the stretch.

Nate Washington scored on a 30-yard reception in the fourth

quarter and Tennessee stuffed Maurice Jones-Drew on a key fourth

down late – both equally huge in helping the Titans beat the

Jacksonville Jaguars 20-16 and end a three-game losing streak

Sunday.

It also may have bolstered Munchak’s shaky job security.

”The second half was finally how we wanted to play,” said

Munchak, whose team had lost eight of 10 games since September.

The Titans (6-9) overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half

and held Jacksonville (4-11) to 85 yards after the break. The best

work came on the ground, where Shonn Greene and Chris Johnson

combined for 181 yards.

The key plays, though, came from Washington and the defense.

Washington slipped behind Alan Ball and caught Ryan

Fitzpatrick’s pass early in the fourth period 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 stymied Jones-Drew on a fourth-and-1 play at the

Tennessee 20 with 5:21 remaining.

”We were down 10, playing on the road again, not playing as

good in the first half as we had hoped, and all of a sudden 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

week.”

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.”

The game was one of three on this weekend’s NFL schedule with no

playoff implications. But it proved to be entertaining – thanks

mostly to retiring Jacksonville center Brad Meester.

The Jaguars honored 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.

”The thing that ran through my head was `Don’t drop the

ball,”’ Meester said. ”I knew I would catch a lot of flak if I

got open one time in my life and I dropped the ball. That was the

one thing I was focusing on is catching it. I caught it, got a few

yards, would have loved to have scored. That’s something I will

always remember.”

Thing got a little ugly after the catch, maybe expected for

someone making his first career reception.

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? I stuck there for a while

and finally went inside and there were a couple of guys waiting for

me. I was excited to know I got the first down.”

The play gained 9 yards and set up Chad Henne’s 4-yard touchdown

pass to Marcedes Lewis. It was Lewis’ fourth consecutive game with

a TD reception.

The Jaguars were up 13-6 after Henne hooked up with Mike Brown

late in the first half, but Josh Scobee’s extra point was blocked.

That proved big, especially when Jacksonville was in field-goal

range late but had to go on fourth down.

”I don’t think our guys flinched one bit,” Jaguars coach Gus

Bradley said. ”Sometimes, I told them, you can’t climb a smooth

mountain. There’s going to be roughness on the journey, and we need

those spots to learn from.”

NOTES: Johnson needs 50 yards rushing to become the sixth player

in NFL history to run for 1,000 yards in each of his first six

seasons. … Jones-Drew finished with 45 yards on the ground,

becoming the 46th player in NFL history to top 8,000 yards rushing.

… Lewis’ fourth straight game with a TD catch tied the franchise

record held by Reggie Williams (2007) and Cecil Shorts III

(2012).

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org