Titans-Jaguars: What we learned

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said last week that being 1-5 as the Tennessee Titans' starter "was something that doesn't sit well with me."
So on Sunday, Fitzpatrick stood up and did something about it.
The Titans' quarterback, who took over under center in Week 10 for injured starter Jake Locker and has struggled since.
However, he shook off a tough loss last week during a career day by marching Tennessee past the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-16 to secure the Titans' first win in the AFC South this year.
"There was a lot of reasons this was an important game for us. Just that locker room after, to get that winning feeling back felt great," Fitzpatrick said. "To be able to get into victory formation at the end of the game and take a knee is something you want to be able to feel. And that's something we haven't felt for a long time. To get that feeling back was the most important thing."
Fitzgerald finished 17-for-26 passing for 181 yards with one touchdown and an interception just one week after throwing for a career-high 402 yards and four TDs.
The Titans (6-9) came in having lost five of the last six and were one of two teams in the NFL without a divisional win. But Tennessee ensured it would not need a victory next week in its season finale at home against the Houston Texans to avoid being blanked in the division.
The Jaguars, meanwhile, lost their second game in a row and fell to 4-11 on the year. Their home woes also continued for Jacksonville, which is now just 2-14 at EverBank Field since last season.

What the Titans said
"We knew when he went out there they would try to get him a touchdown. Part of me wanted him to score. He's had a great career. When you play 14 years in this league, it's a great accomplishment." -- Titans head coach Mike Munchak, a former NFL lineman, on seeing the Jaguars call an offensive play and try to get a touchdown in the final home game for veteran center Brad Meester, who announced earlier this week he was retiring after 14 years in the NFL, all with Jacksonville

What the Jaguars said
"I don't know if our team would say, 'Let's go out next week and get our fifth (victory).' I think our team would say, we've gotten better from the time we started to where we are now. At least there's a sense that we've grown and that we've gotten better and we've been more competitive -- and it's given us a chance." -- Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley, when asked how his first season as head coach in Jacksonville compared with his first year as the defensive coordinator in Seattle.

What we learned about the Titans
1. Running back Chris Johnson still has something left in the tank. Johnson was bruised and bloodied after Sunday's win -- just like the good old days. The Titans' star, who is mired in another disappointing season by his standards, carried the ball 22 times for a tough 90 yards in Sunday's 20-16 win against the Jaguars. The way a running back in the NFL measures success is by 100-yard games, and although Johnson has only broken 100 yards once this season (150 yards, Week 8 vs. St. Louis), he's had three games in the 90s, including Sunday's. Johnson, the NFL's 2009 rushing champ with 2,006 yards that season, won't come close to reaching that mark this season as he still sits 140 yards shy of 1,000. Johnson's decline in production has something to do with the emergence of backup Shonn Greene, who led the Titans with 91 yards Sunday and appears to complement Johnson well. If Johnson can be satisfied with a dual role in the offense going forward, the Titans' 20th-ranked running game could be one of the best in the league next year.
2. The Titans are resilient. One week removed from an amazing comeback to force overtime against Arizona -- only to lose by a field goal in the extra frame -- the Titans made sure Sunday that their latest rally wouldn't be for naught. Down 13-6 heading to halftime and then behind 16-6 shortly after intermission, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Titans' running game and their defense led Tennessee back. The Titans, who have lost three games in the last month by three points or less, stuffed Jacksonville's offense to the tune of 85 yards in the second half, while Johnson and Greene pounded out 181 total yards on the ground. Fitzpatrick also threw a second-half touchdown, snapping their three-game losing streak. Fitzpatrick said of the comeback: "The guys up front did a great job and the defense did a great job, too, holding them, allowing us to there at the end to kind of grind it out."

What we learned about the Jaguars
1. Jacksonville loves Brad Meester. The Jags' veteran center, who played his final game at EverBank Field on Sunday after a 14-year career in the NFL -- all with Jacksonville -- was honored before the game when he was the lone player to be introduced as they ran out of the tunnel. He received a nearly minute-long standing ovation from the fans, many of whom stayed around for Meester's postgame ceremony that was attended by his friends and family, including his wife and six daughters. Players from the Titans made sure to come by the Jags' locker room and shake hands or give Meester a hug after the game, and many fans waited for him outside in hopes of a picture or autograph from the player affectionately known as "Mr. Jaguar." The 6-foot-3, 300-pound former standout at Division I-AA Northern Iowa was selected by the Jags in the second round in 2000 and holds nearly every major service record with the franchise, including total seasons (14), games played (208), games started (208) and consecutive starts (93). And his value to the franchise for more than a decade was not lost on his younger teammates. "(The ceremonies show) appreciation for Brad," Jags fellow OL Uche Nwaneri said of Meester. "They understand what he's brought to the franchise for the last 14 seasons and they really respect what he's done and what he's all about with his professional nature and how he's always been a leader on the team."
2. Maurice Jones-Drew may have played his final game at EverBank Field. Jones-Drew, the franchise's star running back since 2006 and the NFL's 2011 rushing champ, suited up Sunday, despite a nagging hamstring injury, for what might have been his final game in Jacksonville. He only rushed for 45 yards in the loss to Tennessee on Sunday -- on par with his dismal season, during which he's averaged 48 yards a game and just 3.5 yards a carry -- and he refused to answer any questions about his future afterward. Jones-Drew held out for a new contract before the 2012 season -- a deal he did not get -- and rumors have flown that he has been unhappy ever since. He said earlier this month that despite the fact he is in the final year of a five-year contract with the Jags, he would like to remain in Jacksonville. "I want to be here and get it done," Jones-Drew told the NFL Network three weeks ago after Jacksonville's 27-20 win against Houston. That, however, may be tough with the emergence of backup Jordan Todman, who ran for 109 yards last week with Jones-Drew nursing his injury for only the second 100-yard game by a Jags' running back this season. The Jacksonville front office has hinted it may be looking to select a running back this summer in the 2014 NFL Draft.

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