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Classic Titans Games #3: Chris Johnson Vs. Maurice Jones-Drew

The two running backs squared off in a huge game on the ground in 2009 that went in the Titans’ favor.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Tennessee Titans Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Let’s dive right into the meat and potatoes of the third edition of Classic Titans Games. Chris Johnson’s legacy in the NFL was pretty special in regards to his first three seasons in the league, all Pro Bowl seasons. But it was his 2009 season (2,006 rushing yards on 358 carries and 14 rushing touchdowns along with 503 yards and two touchdowns in the air) that most people remember.

As one of the more iconic players in Titans history, Johnson’s 2009 created many fond memories for fans. Perhaps the pinnacle was his performance in Week 8 of that season, a home game against the Jaguars on the first day of November. At the time the Titans were 0-6—a massive fall from grace from their 13-3 season in 2008—and were looking for any hope to at least avoid becoming the second team to finish 0-16, let alone make it back to the playoffs.

The Titans managed to defeat the 3-3 Jaguars by a score of 30-13, thanks to an incredible performance from CJ2K, who carried the ball 24 times for 228 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

But Johnson wasn’t the only one with an incredible day, as Jaguars back Maurice Jones-Drew himself rushed for eight carries, 177 yards, and two touchdowns. Between CJ2K and MJD, the two combined for 405 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns.

With that said, let’s get right into the summary of a classic duel between two legendary AFC South running backs.

After the Titans started their opening drive going up 3-0, the two teams traded punts three times before Vince Young led the offense on a scoring drive to put Tennessee up 10-0 with a little over nine minutes left in the first half.

The defense intercepted David Garrard, and on the first play of the Titans drive Johnson used his speed to go on a 22-yard run, just barely stepping out of bounds on what would’ve been a touchdown. The Titans eventually settled for a field goal, putting them up 13-0 with under six minutes left in the first half.

But on the first play of the Jaguars’ proceeding drive, Jones-Drew took the handoff to the house on a sensational 80-yard touchdown to cut the Titans lead to 13-7. Both teams traded punts to end the first half at the same score.

Jacksonville got the ball to start the second half, and on the very first play from scrimmage, Jones-Drew ran another long carry to the house, this time for a 79-yard touchdown, but kicker Josh Scobee could not convert the extra point, leaving the game at a 13-13 tie. Jones-Drew’s two touchdown runs accounted for 159 of his 177 yards on the day, so while his stats and touchdowns were indeed sensational, they were a little inflated.

But the Titans responded by scoring 18 unanswered points, starting on the following drive. The Titans converted two first downs before Johnson took a handoff for 52 yards and the touchdown to put Tennessee back on top 20-13. The play itself was notable for broadcaster Gus Johnson’s call, who proclaimed CJ2K had “getting away from the cops speed.”

Following a Jaguars punt, the Titans put together a field goal drive to increase the lead to 23-13. The Jacksonville offense managed to put together a decent drive, but were stopped at the Titans’ 38, and were forced to punt the ball back.

On the third play of the Titans drive, beginning on the first play of the fourth quarter, Johnson officially put the game away for good, doing it the only way he could have. Using great power, he broke through tackles, got blocks downfield, and ran for the 89-yard touchdown to give Tennessee a comfortable 30-13 lead.

The Titans defense controlled the rest of the game, preventing the Jaguars from putting any more points on the board, sealing a 30-13 victory, the Titans’ first win on the season. Before Derrick Henry’s insane game last season—also against the Jaguars—Johnson’s 228 rushing yards were the franchise’s single game record.

Interestingly enough, the the Titans became the only team in NFL history to lose their first six games then win their next five. Ultimately, the finished the 2009 season 8-8, coming up short of the postseason. Still, the team had this showdown between Chris Johnson and Maurice-Jones Drew to remember, with Johnson and the Titans coming out on top against their AFC South foe.