Perhaps it wasn't as pretty they they had hoped, but the Tennessee Titans rallied from 10 points down in the second half to claim a 20-16 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The victory at Everbank Stadium in Jacksonville ends a three-game losing streak as the Titans improved to 6-9, claimed their first AFC South win of the season
Tennessee's much-maligned rushing attack finally showed something on Sunday as Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene combined for 181 yards on 39 carries. Greene actually led the team in rushing with 91 yards on 19 carries, while CJ, the rumor of much speculation about being a candidate for being released in the off-season, had 90 yards on 22 attempts Sunday.
“The second half was finally how we wanted to play. I thought in the first half we were inconsistent in all phases. We didn’t look as good as I hoped coming out (for the second half), credit them for that. I felt the second half was really how well our defense played. We held them to about 85 yards of total offense. Our offense went out there and controlled the line of scrimmage to run the ball well. They converted on third downs, fourth downs and CJ had a huge gainer at the end. The guys made plays and that is the good part.," Coach Mike Munchak said.
The Titans struggled through much of the first half with only a pair of Rob Bironas field goals to show for their offensive output. After Bironas' second kick, a 52-yarder, the kickoff sailed out of bounds and the Jaguars' capitalized by scoring a second touchdown. However, the highlight of the first half for Tennessee might have been Bernard Pollard's blocked extra point that loomed large late in the game, forcing Jacksonville to have to score a touchdown rather than playing for a game-tying field goal.
"Even when they scored before halftime and we kicked the ball out of bounds, it was 7-6. That was a depressing drive because they scored a touchdown. But Bernard Pollard blocks the extra point and that is why they went for it when they were down four instead of being down three late in the fourth quarter," Munchak said. "It’s just our guys again. I talked at halftime about how good that play was. ...The guys stepped up and played. The beginning wasn’t like we hoped, but we worked our way through it."
The Titans trailed 16-6 following a Josh Scobee field goal, but answered with an 11-play, 80-yard march that Greene capped off with a 1-yard touchdown plunge.
Tennessee then scored at the start of the fourth quarter when Ryan Fitzpatrick found Nate Washington for a 30-yard touchdown. Washington had a big day for the Titans, catching six passes for 117 yards, a sizable chunk, considering that Fitzpatrick had only 181 yards passing on the day.
"You never really know going into a game, whose day it’s going to be, and I think that’s a good thing for us as an offense. Nate is always a guy that is a solid pro and you never know when it’s going to be his day," Fitzpatrick said. "I think that’s his third 100-yard receiving game of the year and he had a couple of big plays early. He’s been so reliable all year long and he’s a guy that I really trust and look to in the man coverage stuff and he did a good job today.”
It remains to be seen whether or not the victory was a step toward saving Munchak's job. Nonetheless, the Titans will close out the season at home on Sunday against a woeful Houston Texans team, which has lost 13 games in a row after a 2-0 start. The Texans' last victory came in overtime against the Titans back in week two.
“We have one more game left so the season is not over. We have another game we need to win,” Washington said.