JACKSONVILLE – There was ceremony, and plenty of excitement, too.
There was also a Jaguars lead into the third quarter, but as the second half wore on the defense wore down – and the reality of an injury-depleted roster showed up in a big way.
Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne threw two first-half touchdown passes Sunday, but the Tennessee Titans (6-9) rushed for 184 yards as a team to rally from a 10-point second-half deficit for a 20-16 victory over the Jaguars (4-11) in front of 60,559 in the 2013 regular-season finale at EverBank Field.
The Jaguars missed a chance for a fifth victory in seven games following the bye, and missed a chance to move to 4-1 in the AFC South this season.
The Titans' rally came in the final game at EverBank Field for Jaguars veteran center Brad Meester, who was honored after the game.
Meester this past week announced he will retire following the season – his 14th in the NFL and 14th with the Jaguars.
The Jaguars took a 16-6 lead early in the second half on a 36-yard field goal by Josh Scobee, but Tennessee running back Shonn Greene's 1-yard run with 4:01 remaining made it 16-13.
Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's 30-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Nate Washington with 14:25 remaining gave the Titans a 20-16 lead.
Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne completed 24 of 34 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown and an interception on the Jaguars' final series, with Fitzpatrick completing 17 of 26 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown with one interception.
Chris Johnson rushed for 90 yards for Tennessee and Greene rushed for 91 yards.
The Jaguars led 13-6 after moving well offensively much of the first half.
Henne completed 15 of 21 passes for 181 yards in the first half, continuing a second-half-of-the-season trend in which he has started games strong. His most memorable pass of the game: a nine-yarder to Meester that gave the Jaguars a 1st-and-goal at the 1. It was Meester's first career reception.
Henne passed four yards for a touchdown to tight end Marcedes Lewis on the ensuing play to give the Jaguars a a 7-3 lead. Titans kicker Rob Bironas had given the Titans a 3-0 lead with a 45-yard field goal with 9:09 remaining in the first quarter.
Bironas' 52-yard field goal with 1:55 remaining in the second quarter cut the Jaguars' lead to a point, but Bironas' kickoff went out of bounds to set up a seven-play 60-yard drive.
Henne passed seven yards to Mike Brown to cap the drive, but Titans safety Bernard Pollard blocked Scobee's point after to make it 13-6, Jaguars, at halftime.
This came midway through the third quarter. The Jaguars took a 16-6 lead when Scobee converted a 36-yard field goal, but the Titans' offense got traction immediately after that, moving 80 yards for Green's 1-yard touchdown. The Jaguars went three-and-out on their next possession and the Titans moved quickly to take the lead when Washington beat cornerback Alan Ball down the left sideline.
1.There may be no more memorable Jaguars highlight this year than one that came late in the first quarter. It wasn't even a touchdown, though it did set one up. On 2nd-and-8 from the Titans 13, Meester – playing his final game at EverBank Field – lined up at tight end. The play went to Meester, with the 14-year veteran catching a screen pass and gaining nine yards to the Titans 4. The crowd at EverBank cheered wildly. One play later, Henne threw to Lewis for a touchdown and a 7-3 Jaguars lead.
2.Lewis' four-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter continued a productive second half of the season for the eight-year veteran. He has a touchdown reception in the last four games, which is a career-high and ties a franchise record.
3.Second-year defensive end Andre Branch continues to be a force in the second half of the season. He had a sack late in the first half Sunday and now has six for the season, including five in the last six games.
LOOKING ON . . .
1.The Titans had an efficient drive going on their first series until a pair of plays by Jaguars defensive lineman forced a field goal. First, defensive end Tyson Alualu stuffed Johnson for no gain on 2nd-and-1 at the Jaguars 26. On the next play, defensive lineman Abry Jones – active because Roy Miller was sidelined with a shoulder injury – knocked tight end Delanie Walker off his route in the backfield, enabling Jones and middle linebacker Paul Posluszny to sack Fitzpatrick to force a 45-yard field goal by Bironas.
2.Rookie linebacker LaRoy Reynolds shared some snaps with John Lotulelei at outside linebacker. Lotulelei started in place of veteran Russell Allen, placed on injured reserve this week with a concussion sustained against Buffalo last week.
3.The formula that helped the Jaguars win four of their first six games after the bye wasn't there Sunday. The Jaguars turned their season around by running efficiently and being stout against the run. They held their first five opponents after the bye to fewer than yards rushing and had rushed for more than 100 yards as a team in four consecutive games entering Sunday. On Sunday, the Titans outrushed the Jaguars, 182-63. The Bills rushed for 198 yards against the Jaguars last week.
Jaguars cornerback Dwayne Gratz sustained a first-half ankle injury and did not return. Defensive tackle Brandon Deaderick sustained an elbow injury in the first half.
Wide receiver Ace Sanders sustained a finger injury in the first half and left tackle Cameron Bradfield sustained a second-half ankle injury, but each returned.
Also, Miller and outside linebacker Geno Hayes each missed a game for the first time this season for the Jaguars Sunday. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew played, as did safety Johnathan Cyprien. Jones-Drew had been listed as questionable after missing practice Wednesday and Thursday and working limited Friday. He also had missed last week's loss to Buffalo.
Miller, who had started the first 14 games despite playing much of the season with a shoulder injury, and Hayes – who also had started the first 14 games – were among seven players that also included quarterback Ricky Stanzi, running back Delone Carter, center Patrick Lewis, tight end Allen Reisner, defensive end Gerald Rivers also were inactive for the Jaguars.