JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines five key plays from the Jaguars’ 34-14 victory over the Tennessee Titans in a 2023 Week 11 game at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville Sunday
1. Fourth and ye-e-e-e-e-s. Head Coach Doug Pederson stayed characteristically aggressive early in the second half Sunday. The result was the play that essentially secured a sixth victory in seven games. With the Jaguars facing fourth-and-four from the Titans 40 and leading 13-0 on the first possession of the third quarter, Pederson opted to go for the first down instead of punt. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence on the play scrambled to his left and passed to running back D'Ernest Johnson, who turned the play into a 34-yard gain to the Titans 6. "That was just something I felt at that time because we were moving the ball; felt good about it," Pederson said. "When I show confidence in the team and they respond like that, it just breeds confidence in them. We were able to kind of do that a little bit today on some of the fourth downs and sustain some of those drives, but that was a big one to really kind of keep the foot on the gas a little bit offensively and just helps our team with confidence." Lawrence two plays later scrambled left and dove into the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown and a 20-0 Jaguars lead with 9:12 remaining in the third quarter.
2. Fuuuumble – and a red-zone touchdown. The Jaguars on Sunday had early success in what has been a difficult area for them this season, scoring a touchdown on their first possession inside the Titans' 20-yard line. A three-yard touchdown pass from Lawrence to wide receiver Calvin Ridley capped the Jaguars' second possession of the game – an eight-play, 57-yard drive – and gave the Jaguars a 7-0 lead with 2:58 remaining in the first quarter. "If we get the right look, the right situation for certain plays, you know that he can really take advantage of them," Lawrence said of Ridley, who added of the play: "We practice it. I can show you the practice clip. It was the same exact route, catch, look and that is how you play football." One of the key plays of the first quarter started the drive when Titans rookie quarterback Will Levis fumbled a shotgun snap and Jaguars linebacker Foye Oluokun recovered at the Jaguars 43. A 20-yard pass from Lawrence to wide receiver Christian Kirk gave the Jaguars a first down at the Titans 21, with Ridley drawing an interference penalty to convert third down at the Titans 41 on the previous play.
3. All alone. When they were good Sunday, the Jaguars were very good – and they were really good early in the third quarter. The Jaguars forced a Titans punt one possession after Lawrence's scramble. They immediately drove 80 yards on six plays, with Lawrence capping the drive with a 20-yard pass to a wide-open Ridley in the back left corner of the end zone for a 27-0 lead with 3:22 remaining in the third quarter. "I thought [Christian] Kirk was going to get it, but they [the Titans defensive backs] left me," Ridley said. "Usually, they take me, and they left me. Made a great throw and catch." Lawrence keyed the drive with passes of 18 yards to Kirk and 26 to Ridley. "That was huge, to have Ridley have a good game," outside linebacker Josh Allen said. "I was waiting for that moment to happen. I knew he was capable of doing that every week."
4. Saaack. The Jaguars' defense came up big after a potentially costly penalty early, preventing an early potential Titans score. With the Titans facing fourth-and-five at their 42, rookie running back Tank Bigsby was called for offsides on a punt. Titans running back Derrick Henry converted the ensuing fourth-and-one from the Titans 46 with a four-yard run up the middle for a first down at the Jaguars 49. The Titans moved to the Jaguars 33, where they faced third-and-seven. Allen and safety Andre Cisco combined on a pocket-collapsing sack for a seven-yard loss that forced the Titans out of field-goal range and led to a Titans punt. The Titans on the drive used 13 plays and 8:59 to drive 30 yards. "That's really big; it's huge," Pederson said. "It's a lift for our team. It was great to see our defense do that and get off the field. Obviously, it was a lot of plays, and they just hung in there. Those things, they kind of lift and energize your football team in moments like that. I thought the defense today again played outstanding."
5. Inching ahead. The Jaguars didn't get a touchdown on their second red-zone possession Sunday, but they got a field goal that pushed their lead to double digits late in the first half. A 27-yard interference penalty on Titans cornerback Roger McCreary defending Jaguars wide receiver Zay Jones and a 18-yard reverse by Ridley on back-to-back plays moved the Jaguars from their 35 to the Titans 20. The drive stalled when Titans defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons tackled Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. for a one-yard loss on third-and-one from the Titans 11. Jaguars' kicker Brandon McManus' 30-yard field goal gave the Jaguars a 10-0 lead with 2:43 remaining in the second quarter.
5A. Deep down the sideline – and inching further ahead. The Jaguars, after controlling the first half, inched further ahead late in the second quarter – because of a methodical drive and an explosive pass play. After taking possession at their 29-yard line with 1:48 remaining in the first half, the Jaguars drove to the Titans 48 and faced second-and-10 there. Lawrence on that play threw deep down the left sideline, with Ridley catching it behind safety Amani Hooker for a 34-yard gain to the Titans 14. McManus' 25-yard field goal with :14 remaining in the first half gave the Jaguars a 13-0 lead.