NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Jaguars showed a ton of progress Sunday. That was welcome news for Head Coach Gus Bradley.
The better news? The progress brought victory.
On a day when the defense forced four turnovers, the Jaguars took a 13-point lead in the second half and held on for a 29-27 victory over the Tennessee Titans at LP Field in Nashville Sunday, with the result giving Bradley his first victory as the Jaguars' head coach.
The Jaguars are now 1-8 this season; the Titans are 4-5.
Jaguars cornerback Will Blackmon all-but sealed the victory with a sack/forced fumble of Titans backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, returning the fumble 21 yards for the clinching points with 2:32 remaining.
The Titans had cut the Jaguars lead to seven, 20-13, with a pair of second-half Rob Bironas field goals, but Titans guard Chance Warmack was called for holding in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter.
That safety gave the Jaguars a two-possession lead, 22-13.
Fitzpatrick's four-yard touchdown run with 4:15 remaining cut the Jaguars lead to 22-20. After Tennessee forced a three-and-out, the Titans had a chance to drive for the victory. But on 3rd-and-9 from the 30, Blackmon blitzed from Fitzpatrick's right, forcing the deciding turnover.
The Titans cut the lead to 29-27 with a 14-yard pass from Fitzpatrick to tight end Delanie Walker with 40 seconds remaining, but Jaguars safety Johnathan Cyprien recovered the ensuing onside kick to secure the victory.
Fitzpatrick replaced an injured Jake Locker (foot) for the Titans at quarterback in the second quarter, completing 22 of 33 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns. Locker completed 4 of 9 passes for 24 yards and an interception, and Titans running back Chris Johnson finished with 30 yards rushing on 12 carries.
Chad Henne completed 14 of 23 passes for 180 yards and no touchdowns with two interceptions for the Jaguars. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for 43 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
The Jaguars led 20-7 after a 5-yard run by Jordan Todman with 10:17 remaining in the third quarter, but Tennessee cut into the lead after that, with Bironas converting a 39-yard field goal for Tennessee late in the third quarter and a 37-yarder early in the fourth.
Bironas' second field goal came three plays after Henne's second interception of the game.
The Jaguars played one of their most impressive halves of the season, taking advantage of three Tennessee turnovers to lead after two quarters.
The Jaguars took the early lead off the first of those Titans mistakes.
Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny forced a fumble by Johnson on the game's first play. Posluszny also recovered at the Titans 19, and when Jones-Drew scored on a 6-yard run three plays later, Jacksonville led, 7-0.
The Jaguars allowed just one first-quarter first down and 46 yards in the period, extending the lead to 10-0 on a 32-yard field goal by Josh Scobee with 6:31 remaining in the quarter.
Scobee extended the lead to 13-0 with a 44-yard field goal with 10:23 remaining in the quarter, a score that came seven plays and 19 yards after the first interception of Jaguars rookie cornerback Dwayne Gratz's career.
Gratz's interception came off an overthrown pass by Titans quarterback Jake Locker, who left the game two series later with a shoulder injury.
Fitzpatrick replaced Locker, cutting the lead to 13-7 at halftime with a nine-yard pass to tight end Taylor Thompson with :41 remaining in the half.
With 2:32 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Jaguars led, 22-20, but the Titans faced 3rd-and-9 at their 30. They also had momentum after cutting the Jaguars' lead from nine to two on the previous possession. But on 3rd-and-9, Blackmon blitzed and stripped Fitzpatrick of the ball. Blackmon caught the fumble out of the air and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown.
1.The Jaguars' defense reversed its recent trend of shaky starts, forcing a fumble on the game's first possession and forcing three-and-outs on the next two drives. The Jaguars had allowed touchdowns on the first two possessions of their last three games leading into last week's bye. The Jaguars held the opponent without a score for the first four possessions for the first time this season.
2.The Jaguars took advantage of three Titans turnovers to lead by six points at halftime. The only other time the Jaguars have forced three turnovers this season was in a 35-19 loss at Denver.
LOOKING ON . . .
1.Tight end Marcedes Lewis had one of the Jaguars' most impressive plays of the season early, catching a short pass from Henne and turning into a 27-yard, aggressive, tackle-breaking gain.
2.The Jaguars opened the game with a clear commitment to establish Jones-Drew and the running game. He ran on five of the Jaguars' first six plays, a stretch that included a 6-yard run for the game's first touchdown.
Wide receiver Stephen Burton left the game in the fourth quarter with a head injury and did not return. He missed four games earlier this season with a concussion.
Guard Will Rackley missed the game with a concussion, having been made inactive shortly before the game. Guard Mike Brewster started in his place.
Wide receiver Mike Brown also started in place of Ace Sanders at wide receiver.
Wide receiver Stephen Williams (Achilles) also was inactive, as were quarterback Ricky Stanzi, linebacker Nate Stupar, wide receiver Kerry Taylor defensive end Abry Jones and cornerback Jamell Fleming.