Jaguars-Titans: What we learned

Bucky Dent, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Throughout Sunday's game, Jacksonville cornerback Will Blackmon carried a crumpled piece of paper in his sock with personal and team goals written on it.
"I will cause a fumble, we will win as a team and we will give our coach a game ball," it read.
Blackmon did all three on one play with 2:32 left in the game, sacking backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, forcing a fumble and lugging it back 21 yards for the touchdown which lifted the Jaguars to a 29-27 upset of the Tennessee Titans at LP Field.
It was the first win for Jacksonville's first-year coach, Gus Bradley, after eight straight double-figure losses to open the season. Coming into the game, the Jaguars had been outscored 264-86 and hadn't led in a game in over a month.
The Titans not only lost the game, but also lost a quarterback. Jake Locker left with a foot injury in the first half, The Tennessean reported that it appears to be a season-ending Lisfranc injury, although Locker will undergo further tests to confirm that preliminary diagnosis.
The Jaguars scored first in this one and never trailed, although their edge was a shaky 22-20 when Tennessee (4-5) got the ball back with 3:13 left after forcing a 3-and-out. On third-and-9 from the 30, Fitzpatrick dropped back to throw as Jacksonville blitzed.
"I like coming in on the blitz from the nickel (defense)," Blackmon said. "I was ready for it. It's something I love to do."
It was the last of four turnovers for the Titans that cost them 17 points, as well as a chance to draw closer to first place Indianapolis in the AFC South. The 6-3 Colts, who visit Tennessee on Thursday night, lost 38-8 to St. Louis.
It's the third straight year that the Titans have lost in the season's second half to a division foe with no or one wins. They fell to 0-13 Indianapolis in 2011 and suffered a 24-19 defeat last season at one-win Jacksonville.
"We talked about that going into the game," Tennessee coach Mike Munchak said. "Obviously, there's a lot of disappointed people in the locker room and I know our fans are disappointed. We can't blame anyone but ourselves. We didn't take care of business."
The Titans were 13-point favorites going into this one, but gave the Jaguars hope on the game's first play as running back Chris Johnson fumbled at the end of a 4-yard run. Linebacker Paul Posluszny recovered at the Tennessee 19.
Jacksonville cashed it in three plays later when running back Maurice Jones-Drew pounded six yards off the left side for a 7-0 lead 91 seconds into the game. It was the Jaguars' first lead since the first quarter of a 34-20 defeat in St. Louis Oct. 6.
"To have that come into play right away this week," Bradley said of scoring first, "was a great confidence-builder."
Jacksonville's defense, which entered the game ranked last in the league against the run, limited the Titans to 83 yards on 27 carries. Johnson, who gashed St. Louis for 150 yards on 23 attempts last week, managed just 30 yards on 12 rushes.

What the Titans said
"This is the NFL. Anyone can beat anybody on any day." -- Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick when asked by a reporter how it felt to "lose to the worst team in the league."

What the Jaguars said
"That's the challenge that we have this week now. We played pretty good, we did some good things, can we handle it?" -- Coach Gus Bradley on the team earning its first win.

What we learned about the Titans
1. Backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is too mistake-prone to count on for winning play. While Fitzpatrick did hit 22 of 33 passes for 264 yards and accounted for all three touchdowns, he also gave up Jacksonville's winning score when he was stripped of the ball while being sacked by cornerback Will Blackmon, who returned it 21 yards for a touchdown. Fitzpatrick threw four interceptions in losses to Kansas City and Seattle when Locker was hurt in October, and doesn't make good decisions under pressure.
2. This team wasn't ready to play. From a fumble on the game's first play to a handful of key penalties which cost them yardage or gave the Jaguars first downs, the Titans weren't mentally sharp. It's the third straight year the Titans lost to a winless or one-loss team in the season's second half, a sign that coach Mike Munchak might not be reaching this group of players.

What we learned about the Jaguars
1. Field position made a big difference. With good kick coverage, the Jaguars forced the Titans to start their first three drives at their 15, 13 and 11. Tennessee's offense didn't get a first down on either possession, setting the tone for the day. Jacksonville must do little things like cover kicks well and win the field position battle to have a chance to win games.
2. Quarterback Chad Henne nearly cost the Jags a win. Henne was 14 of 23 for 180 yards, but was picked off twice and was lucky not to give up two more interceptions. While the loss of wide receiver Justin Blackmon to a season-ending suspension robs the Jaguars of their best offensive weapon, Henne has to make better decisions and not put it in a bind with turnovers. The defense bailed him out Sunday.

What to Read Next