JACKSONVILLE – The Titans recorded seven sacks of Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne, but found it more difficult to record seven points on Sunday in Jacksonville.
Tennessee didn’t capitalize on great field position to start the day, and suffered from disadvantageous field position most of the rest of the game in a 24-19 loss at EverBank Field.
The Titans’ defense forced a turnover on the first snap of the game when Sen’Derrick Marks batted a pass by Henne up into the air and Alterraun Verner won the battle for the football against Cecil Shorts III to give Tennessee the ball at Jacksonville’s 28-yard line. It was the second interception of the season for Verner and sixth of his career, but the Titans settled for a 38-yard field goal by Rob Bironas after failing to gain a first down.
“Obviously, a very disappointing loss for us in a game where we had plenty of opportunities,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said. “Right from the beginning, with the turnover, we struggled all day to score points and had to settle for field goals when we could have done much better than that. When you do that in this league, it ends up costing you.”
Settling for field goals became an unsettling pattern for Tennessee (4-7), which lost footing in its attempt to begin a late season charge for a postseason berth in its final six games. Bironas fired accurately from 40, 39 and 33 yards but missed a 42-yard attempt with 9:34 left in the first half, which Tennessee ended down 7-6.
“We had a chance with the playoffs, and now it’s definitely out of our hands,” Verner said. “I felt like we still had it under our control if we kept winning out. So it’s definitely frustrating because we still haven’t won a division game. We’re 0-3.”
The Titans’ starting field position average was their own 23, but that was skewed by having such good field position on its opening possession. Tennessee started inside its own 20 on eight of its 12 possessions, compared to Jacksonville, which started just one of its 12 possessions inside its own 20.
Tennessee recorded its most sacks in a game since recording seven against Jacksonville in 2008 and equaled its total in the three previous games combined.
The Titans sacked Henne three times on the Jaguars’ second possession. Zach Brown, who had a career-high two sacks, started the action with a tackle for a 2-yard loss, Akeem Ayers dropped Henne for a loss of seven, and Jurrell Casey moved Jacksonville 10 more yards back and out of field-goal range one play later.
Kamerion Wimbley added a sack of Henne for a loss of two in the second quarter, Brown got his second sack in the third quarter, and Michael Griffin and Karl Klug added sacks in the fourth quarter.
Griffin’s sack on a blitz took Jacksonville out of field-goal range early in the fourth quarter, and Klug’s pursuit of Henne forced a punt that gave the Titans the ball down 21-19 with 3:28 remaining, but the Titans lost the ball two plays later when Russell Allen tipped a pass Jake Locker intended for Jared Cook, and Dwight Lowery intercepted the ball and returned it to the Tennessee 36.
Damian Williams walked the tightrope by getting both feet down for a gain of 27 in the third quarter, and thought he had done so for a touchdown and the lead in the fourth quarter.
After the Titans moved the ball from their own 13 to the Jacksonville 15 with six straight completions by Locker, the second-year quarterback lofted a pass to Williams, but officials ruled that he didn’t get his right foot down in bounds.
Munchak decided to challenge the ruling, but officials said there was not enough evidence to overturn the call. A different verdict was hurt by a lack of camera angles, Munchak said, and a harsh shadow cast by Williams’ foot. The close call kept the Titans from reclaiming the lead with 10:21 left in the game and cost the Titans an important timeout.
“We knew in this game there were not going to be a lot of camera angles and they were not going to show us the replays upstairs or on the sidelines,” Munchak said. “Because of that and he (Damian Williams) was comfortable he got it in, so we thought we had a shot at it. The other side of that was when we got to the line of scrimmage, we weren’t going to get the play off, so you have to call timeout anyway, so we might as well challenge the play.
“The official told me if they had called it a touchdown, he wouldn’t have overruled it,” Munchak continued. “They couldn’t tell because of the shadow and the look they had, he couldn’t tell if he was in or out, so he had to go with how it was called on the field, which was incomplete.”
The Titans also had a first down gain on third-and-3 erased on video review in the second quarter when officials determined Nate Washington’s right foot landed out of bounds. The replay of that was much more conclusive.
Washington narrowly missed a touchdown grab in the third quarter when officials ruled he didn’t control a pass on the sideline of the end zone with both feet in bounds.
The incompletions on the near touchdowns forced field goals.
HIDDEN COST OF PENALTY
An offsides penalty against Derrick Morgan loomed large against the Titans in the third quarter.
Although it was offset by a penalty against Jacksonville on the play, it erased a stop by the Titans’ defense on third-and-7 and forced a replay of the down. Henne completed a deep pass to Shorts, who found an opening in the Titans’ secondary and zoomed untouched for a 59-yard TD and a 14-6 lead with 8:40 left in the third quarter.
BRITT BACK IN END ZONE
Despite falling behind 21-12 with 6:50 remaining, the Titans mounted a comeback.
Locker quickly led the Titans to a touchdown with four straight completions before Chris Johnson zipped for a 31-yard gain. Locker connected with Kenny Britt for a six-yard touchdown one play later. Locker was 5-for-5 on the drive for 47 yards on the possession as the Titans drove 78 yards in 1:58 to make it 21-19 with 4:52 remaining. It was the first TD for Britt since his game-tying score against Pittsburgh on Oct. 11.
Tennessee then forced a punt by Jacksonville and got the ball at its own 37 with 3:28 left. Jacksonville, however, stuffed Johnson for no gain, then recorded the first of its two late interceptions to seal the game.
SectionsFeatured Story, NFL, Sports, Tennessee Titans
TopicsAkeem Ayers, Alterraun Verner, Chris Johnson, Clarksville, Clarksville Sports Network, Damian Williams, Derrick Morgan, football, Jake Locker, Jared Cook, Karl Klug, Michael Griffin, Nate Washington, NFL, Rob Bironas, Tennessee, Tennessee Titans, Titans, Zach Brown
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