The Titans got their fourth win in the last five games with a dominating 42-20 win over the Jaguars at Nissan Stadium today. At 6-5, Tennessee remains just a game behind the AFC South leading Texans, but have moved level with the Colts for second place heading into their now massive Week 13 trip to Indianapolis. A Raiders loss to the Jets today also means that the Titans are now tied with the Colts, Raiders, and Steelers for the second wildcard spot in the AFC.
It was the team’s most dominant win since their 43-13 opening day beatdown of the Browns and it was much needed after a few close contests in recent weeks. Here are the winners and losers from Titans 42, Jaguars 20.
Ryan Tannehill: Winner
Tannehill came into the game one of the hottest quarterbacks in the NFL and his performance today — 14 of 18 for 259 yards and 2 touchdowns plus another 43 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground — certainly didn’t show any signs of cooling off.
He improved to 4-1 as a starter during his time as a Titan and the conversation about whether he should be re-signed is quickly going to turn into a conversation about how long his contract extension should be if he keeps this up. Frankly, at this point, there isn’t much reason not to believe that he will continue to play well. Under Tannehill the Titans have put up at least 20 points in every game, averaging 29.4 over that stretch. If anything, Tannehill’s confidence — and the offense around him — appears to be ascending as the team has scored 77 points in their past two games.
Tannehill’s toughness was on display again in this game as he catapulted over two Jaguars defenders into the end zone for the team’s first of six offensive touchdowns in this game. He also showed the accuracy and arm strength that has helped elevate a Titans passing attack that suddenly looks pretty dangerous.
Derrick Henry: Winner
Derrick Henry owns the Jaguars. Plain and simple. Once again, the Titans big back thumped his hometown team with 19 carries for 159 yards and 2 touchdowns, including this 74-yard score during a 3rd quarter avalanche of points for the Titans offense.
Just look at the speed once Henry hits the crease here! You could just feel this one coming too. The Titans had momentum going, the Jags defense was ready to break, and there is no one in the league with more experience breaking the Jags than Henry.
He is now up to 991 rushing yards on the season on 206 attempts for an average of 4.81 yards per carry. His lone blemish on the game was a rare lost fumble, but that happened well after the game was in hand.
Like Tannehill, the conversation about Henry’s future beyond this season is becoming more interesting by the day. While the passing game has certainly taken off, there is little doubt that 22 is the engine that powers the Titans attack. In general I’m not a huge proponent of paying running backs, but Henry is unique and this is a unique situation.
A.J. Brown: Winner
The rookie wide receiver had his second career 100-yard game today, going for 4 catches, 135 yards, and this 65 yard touchdown.
Brown continues to look like the real deal, particularly with his ability to make plays after the catch. He now has a team best 581 yards receiving on the season and certainly seems to be the pass catcher that the Titans offense tries to get involved most consistently on a week to week basis.
Corey Davis: Winner
Davis had just 2 catches for 29 yards in the game — and it’s probably fair to say that Brown has surpassed him in the WR pecking order at this point — but Davis made a couple nice plays and should have had a long touchdown on a deep ball that Tannehill just missed.
He also threw key block on Brown’s long touchdown. Some might scoff at complementing Davis’ blocking, but he’s a big part of the reason that this Titans offense is capable of so many explosive plays. The guy gives maximum effort in that phase and the team trusts him with some really tough blocking assignments as well.
Harold Landry: Winner
Another week, another sack for Landry. He’s now up to 8 on the season and has now recorded a sack in four straight.
This sack was particularly crucial as it thwarted the Jaguars opening drive and pushed them out of field goal range. Landry is a guy that the Titans defense can count on showing up each and every week. He’s proving to be the steal that we all thought he was at pick 41 in the 2018 draft.
Daren Bates: Winner
The veteran special teams ace made a fantastic play that contributed to the Titans big 3rd quarter when he forced and recovered a fumble on the kickoff following Henry’s first rushing touchdown.
Bates is still really good at what he does and this was a big play in turning this game into a laugher.
Adoree’ Jackson: Winner
Jackson is quietly having a really good season. After struggling with a couple missed tackles on Tyreek Hill two weeks ago, he was outstanding in that aspect this week, bringing Leonard Fournette down in the open field a couple times and regularly closing quickly when he did give up a catch.
Jackson was matched up on Jaguars star receiver D.J. Chark most of the game and held him to just 5 catches for 38 yards, his second lowest output of the season, despite the fact that Jacksonville attempted 48 passes while playing from behind.
LeShaun Sims: Loser
It’s hard to have too many losers in a game like this, but Sims probably qualifies. He was picked on early in the game and struggled to get his head back around on a few passes where he could have made a play. He also left early with a foot injury that could put his status for the Colts game in question. Not a great day overall for Sims.
Arthur Smith: Winner
This was a fantastically called game from Smith. He kept the Jaguars off balance consistently with a mix of Henry runs, play action passes, and screen calls. His game plan did an excellent job of neutralizing the fearsome Jaguars pass rush that tormented Tennessee in their Week 3 matchup and created a bunch of explosive play opportunities throughout the contest.
Smith has caught a lot of heat here this season, but it’s time to give credit where credit is due. The Titans produced 471 yards on just 52 offensive snaps for a blistering 9.1 yards per play average, an all-time record for the Titans franchise and the 27th highest single game average for any team in the Super Bowl era.
The hot run of play from the Tennessee offense over the last five weeks is growing more and more undeniable with each passing week. The 471 total yards today are the 10th most during the Titans era of this franchise. Arthur Smith, Ryan Tannehill, and Derrick Henry are making sweet sweet music together right now.
The Offensive Line: Winners
Ryan Tannehill was sacked just once — though that was a pretty bad sack and we will get that momentarily — and Derrick Henry rushed for 8.4 yards per carry. That’s a pretty solid day for the big boys up front.
They also had a couple big assists on Henry first down conversions, helping push the pile. Credit is due to Taylor Lewan for keeping his cool despite a couple cheap shots from Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell on him during the game. He didn’t retaliate and played a penalty free game.
This group is clearly trending in the right direction.
Dennis Kelly: Mixed Bag
Kelly played left tackle for one snap when Taylor Lewan got hurt and promptly allowed a strip sack that cost the Titans their unblemished red zone record over the last five weeks. However, he also turned around and caught a touchdown pass shortly thereafter after sneaking into the back of the end zone on a play action pass.
Big guy touchdowns are always cool.
Mike Vrabel: Winner
Vrabel has the Titans at 6-5 and firmly back in the playoff hunt after a 2-4 start to the season. His team didn’t cave when things looked bleak and has improved significantly as the season has worn on. That’s a sign of good coaching.
Another sign of good coaching is his record in games with extra days to prepare:
- 27-20 loss at Miami on opening day 2018
- 28-14 win at Dallas after 2018 bye
- 17-0 win at New York Giants after 2018 TNF
- 43-13 win at Cleveland on opening day 2019
- 24-10 win at Atlanta after 2019 TNF
- 42-20 win vs Jacksonville after 2019 bye
That’s five straight wins by two touchdowns or more for Vrabel with extra time to prepare.
The Titans will face a big test on the road next week in Indy. As fun as this run has been, this is the kind of game that Vrabel was hired to win.
The Jags season is effectively over after dropping to 4-7. Back to back embarrassing blowout division losses feel like a familiar end for them. Jacksonville is one of the biggest front running teams in the NFL. Once the Titans went up 14-3, you could just feel that they were ready to quit... and they did in short order. Throw in a couple goonish plays from Ngakoue and Campbell and you have your classic Jaguars game/season. Hopefully they decide to keep Doug Marrone around this offseason.