JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)—Coach Jack Del Rio’s quarterback decision got a lot more difficult Sunday.
Not surprisingly, Del Rio sidestepped the issue afterward. Starter Byron Leftwich, meanwhile, was nowhere to be found. As for Garrard?
“I’ll just wait until Jack, Byron or my wife tells me I’m going to start,” said Garrard, learned he was starting last week from his wife and this week from Leftwich.
“This is normal,” he said of the unsettled quarterback situation. “No one has ever told me they are handing me the reins. Byron is the starting quarterback of this team until somebody tells me otherwise.”
At the very least, Garrard made the most of his second straight start.
Garrard was even better after halftime, completing his first four passes for 78 yards and a score. He threw a perfect fade pass to Wilford for a 22-yard touchdown that pushed the lead to 27-0.
Although Del Rio has insisted Leftwich would be the starter if healthy, Leftwich wasn’t even in uniform Sunday after declaring himself ready to play earlier in the week.
Leftwich convinced Del Rio he was OK to play despite a sore left ankle three weeks ago at Houston. He played poorly, the Jags (5-3) lost and Leftwich has been on the bench since—watching Garrard lead the team to two victories.
“I’m glad I’m not the coach,” safety Deon Grant said. “It would be real hard to sit David down right now and real hard not to put Byron back in there. I guess that’s the coach’s fault for having two good quarterbacks.”
Garrard was 12-of-22 for 177 yards.
Young had much less success for the Titans (2-6), looking at times like, well, a rookie.
He was intercepted three times—all of them led to points for the Jags— sacked once and basically roughed up the entire game as Jacksonville improved to 4-0 at home.
“There’s no doubt he was very frustrated and this will be a tough one to swallow,” Titans receiver Drew Bennett said. “But the guy is a competitor, he’s a leader and he knows that the offense is counting on him.”
Young finished 15-of-36 for 163 yards, 80 of them in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach.
“We wanted to keep him in the pocket, get in his face and make him use his arm,” Jags defensive end Bobby McCray said. “Then we forced him into some mistakes.”
The Titans avoided a shutout when Young completed a 32-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to Bennett with 2:40 to play.
“We killed ourselves as a team,” said Young, who also had several passes dropped. “We have to go home, get past this and get ready for next week.”
Before the late TD pass, Young’s best play may have been a touchdown-saving tackle.
Rashean Mathis was nearing the goal line after his second interception—his seventh in the last nine games—when Young shoved him out of bounds. The Jaguars settled for a short field goal.
It was one of the few bright spots for the Titans, who had won their previous two games.
Jacksonville enjoyed countless highlights.
Fred Taylor and Maurice Drew combined for 135 yards rushing. Garrard’s three TD passes were a career high. The defense was stout for the second consecutive week—the Jaguars won 13-6 last week at Philadelphia—and even scored when Scott Starks picked off a pass and went untouched for 55 yards.
“We’re trying to make a statement,” Mathis said. “We let a couple of games slip away that we should have won. But the way we’re playing right now, it’ll be tough for anybody to beat us.”
Titans OT Daniel Loper was hospitalized with a lacerated spleen. He will remain overnight and monitored, coach Jeff Fisher said. … Tennessee played without DT Albert Haynesworth and CB Adam “Pacman” Jones. Both were suspended. … Jacksonville’s Josh Scobee has made 10 consecutive field goals. … Jags DT Marcus Stroud (ankle) missed his fourth straight game.