Did anyone have a shootout on tap for today’s Titans-Jaguars matchup in Nashville? This is usually a slugfest featuring Derrick Henry running through the Jacksonville secondary, but we saw a much different game play out today.
Unlike last week, it was a hot start for the Titans on the offensive side of the ball. Jonnu Smith did all the heavy lifting, going 61 yards to flip the field and then hauling in a leaping contested touchdown to give Tennessee an early 7-0 lead.
A tipped pass from Gardner Minshew ended Jacksonville’s chance to answer as rookie Kristian Fulton picked him off. Ryan Tannehill quickly made the Jaguars pay, finding Corey Davis who continued his hot start to 2020 with a touchdown grab in the back of the endzone.
Down 14-0 early, Minshew didn’t fold. He immediately fired a deep strike to D.J. Chark, then quickly capped the drive with a toss to Tyler Eifert to cut the Titans’ lead down to 14-7. After 21 quick points out of the gates, the up and down pace finally slowed down as the two defenses settled in.
Midway through the second quarter, the story of the day was Jacksonville’s work on Derrick Henry. The Jaguars killer had just a handful of yards on nine carries through 25 minutes of action, but that started to change on the final Tennessee drive of the first half. Henry finally found some room to operate as Arthur Smith rode him into the redzone. The Titans milked the clock, then Tannehill found Jonnu Smith for another touchdown to make it a 21-7 game.
However, as we saw in Denver, this secondary can be leaky with no Adoree’ Jackson. It was Keelan Cole and Minshew moving the Jaguars down the field before the break, and Jacksonville added a field goal to bring us to 21-10. And then, inexplicably, the Jaguars botched a squib kick to immediately set up Stephen Gostkowski for a 51 yard attempt to close the half, which he drilled.
An eventful half ended with the Titans holding a 24-10 lead.
The Jaguars were able to regroup fight to open the third quarter. Jacksonville’s offensive line won up front, paving the way for James Robinson to get a drive rolling. Minshew remained accurate, attacking in the intermediate to keep the sticks moving. Very quickly, the Jaguars were in business. Robinson got loose in the redzone, finding the endzone to bring us back to a one score game.
What would Tennessee’s answer be? A healthy dose of Derrick Henry, of course. Jacksonville continued to do a good job bottling him up, but the Titans kept chipping away. Tannehill kept taking what he was being given too, keeping the Jaguars honest.
Tannehill answered with yet another touchdown pass, his fourth of the day, this time finding Adam Humphries. Gostkowski missed the extra point, keeping us at a 30-17 score.
Robinson picked up right where he left off on the next drive, flipping the field with a length run and setting up the Jaguars to answer. Minshew quickly found Keelan Cole for another touchdown to keep the pace of this game rolling. Josh Lambo matched Stephen Gostkowski with a missed extra point of his own to keep us at a seven point game.
To open the fourth quarter, the Jaguars forced a three and out. They went right back to Robinson, then Minshew found Chris Conley to move past midfield once again. Jacksonville’s second-year passer was impressive all day, and came through again in the fourth quarter. He tied the game up at 30-30 with a touchdown pass to Chris Thompson.
Without much production from Henry, this game felt like it was in Tannehill’s hands. But on the next key drive midway through the fourth quarter, Jacksonville forced a punt. So with 5:36 to play, Minshew and the Jaguars suddenly had a chance to take the lead. But the Titans’ defense finally got a stop as Jadeveon Clowney got pressure to end the drive.
With 3:29 to play, the ball was back in Tannehill and Henry’s hands. Derrick got the drive going, running through arm tackles to get to midfield. Tennessee got lucky with a defensive pass interference call against Myles Jack to move closer to field goal range. The drive would stall out at the Jacksonville 31, and Gostkowski was called upon to attempt to take the lead.
His 49 yard attempt was money, and the Titans took the lead back at 33-30. Minshew would get the ball back with 1:49 to play and no timeouts remaining.
Minshew scrambled, then completed a short pass to get to his own 45. The clock was ticking away, but then disaster struck. Minshew’s second tipped-pass interception fell into the hands of Harold Landry to end the game. It was Jack Crawford making the play for the Titans, who survived quite the effort from the Jaguars today.
Ryan Tannehill ended the day with four touchdown passes, throwing for 239 yards. Jonnu Smith finished with four catches for 84 yards and two scores, while Derrick Henry was held to just 84 yards on 25 attempts.
Tennessee’s leaky secondary continues to be an issue, surrendering 339 passing yards and three touchdowns to Gardner Minshew.
The Titans head to Minnesota next week to face the Vikings.