I guess losing ugly has become a way of life for the Tennessee Titans as they lost again this time in prime time Thursday against divisional foe Jacksonville.
Both teams seem to try to see who can land the better draft pick in the upcoming NFL draft, something usually won by the Jaguars except last season. What irony. To think 16 years ago these two teams had the best records in the league with the Titans edging out the Jags to go to the Super Bowl. Of course Tennessee lost that game to the “Greatest Show on Turf” aka the St. Louis Rams. The Titans have yet to make a deep run in the playoffs since and the Jaguars have never been to a Super Bowl and haven’t sniffed a .500 record in years
Well, if you’re going to lose ugly do so as the Titans have all year as they are now 2-8. “It’s frustrating especially in prime time Thursday night the way we lost it. I felt like the team played good at the end by driving the ball down the field,” said Titans tight end Delanie Walker. “In the end, you can’t have sacks in crucial moments like that. I felt like we made a lot of mistakes out there. We made some penalties on both sides of the ball, mistakes that you can’t have.”
The game was a see-saw battle that saw Jaguar coach Gus Bradley face off against Tennessee’s Mike Mularkey who he replaced in Jacksonville last season. Mularkey, of course is the interim coach of the Titans who fired Ken Whisenhunt during the bye week. It was hard to tell who wanted to win or lose as the teams traded two field goals in the first half before the Jaguars took the lead – yes guess it, another field goal in the third quarter.
The Titans finally broke this trend as rookie QB Marcus Mariota engineered a five-play 81-yard drive to take the lead. The final 23 yards of that drive were courtesy of the number two overall draft pick as he ran for his first career touchdown to give Tennessee a 13-9 lead.
The lead held up briefly before Jaguar QB Bake Bortles found Julius Thomas from five yards out with 3:34 to play to male the score 16-13.
“There’s nothing more frustrating than kicking field goals, especially when you’re inside the five. I think that our offense works really hard at being able to execute in the red area. To struggle with it was a little bit frustrating but it’s always great when you can go down there and get points,” said Thomas.
14 seconds later Marcus Mariota passed to Phillip Supernaw who was stripped of the ball giving the Jaguars the ball back on the Tennessee 28.
The Titans’ defense stiffened and Jacksonville kicked their fourth field goal of the game to make the score 19-13.
But there still was time left. With 2:19 remaining Mariota began what everyone was hoping would be his first comeback victory. They got the ball on their 20 and began to drive. Mariota completed 6-of-8 passes as he drove Tennessee deep into Jacksonville territory. With five second remaining in the game and the ball on the Jaguars’ 23 Mariota was sacked as time ran out again for the team.
“In this game and last week too, so we’re getting these one possession games and we’ve been in them all year. To see us do enough to get the win is great. I think we’re seeing who we are. We need this spirit, we need this will, the trust and the faith that they have in one another, that’s what I told them, I said speak about that,” said Bradley. “That’s what’s great about this team. I’m sure there will be many more to come like this, in these one possession games. Fortunately we came out of the good end this time and we’ll get back to work.”
The Titans remain in the cellar of the AFC South with the loss even though they are ironically only three games out of first with six games remaining. It is their fourth loss by only one possession. Four of the team’s eight losses came by a grand combined total of 12 points. If luck had been in their side (not Andrew, although that would have helped also) the Titans would have a two game lead over both Indianapolis and Houston who both have 5-5 records.
“It’s tough. We’ve been in a lot of close games and lost a lot of close ones. We have to be able to finish. This team works hard. You can feel the frustration, but we can’t hang our heads. We have a lot of games left,” said Mariota. “Our defense is playing at a really high level. They keep giving us more and more opportunities. We just weren’t able to capitalize on turnovers. We just have to do a better job of scoring points.”
Sunday the Titans return home to Nissan Field where they will take on the Oakland Raiders. Kickoff is scheduled for 1pm and will be aired of CBS.
– Dave Weinthal
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