NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Senior writer John Oehser examines five key plays from the Jaguars' 36-22 victory over the Tennessee Titans in a 2022 Week 14 game at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday …
1. Methodical and familiar. The Titans took an early lead and established momentum with a drive that felt all too familiar to the Jaguars. The Titans on the game's first possession drove 76 yards on 10 plays, taking the lead in a methodical and steady fashion. There was no huge play but running back Derrick Henry rushed five times for 19 yards and quarterback Ryan Tannehill steadily worked the Titans downfield by completing four of five passes for 47 yards. Henry's three-yard run with 9:09 remaining gave the Titans a 7-0 lead and marked the ninth consecutive meaningful possession on which the Jaguars' defense allowed a score. The lone non-scoring drive in that streak came on the final drive of a loss to the Detroit Lions last week when the Lions kneeled to end the game.
2. Saaaaaack – and a fumble. The Jaguars regained momentum in impressive fashion midway through the first quarter with one of the biggest plays of the season to date for rookie outside linebacker Travon Walker. The No. 1 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, Walker on third-and-six from the Titans 28 rushed around the left side of the Titans' line and sacked Tannehill to force a fumble that Jaguars defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot recovered at the Titans 19. "That's the type of athlete he is," Pederson said of Walker. It gave Walker 3.5 sacks for the season, with the Jaguars tying the game 7-7 on the ensuing series when quarterback Trevor Lawrence passed 12 yards to tight end, Evan Engram, with 6:01 remaining in the first quarter. The Jaguars forced four turnovers and had four sacks Sunday. "Anytime you create turnovers early, it just sets the tone," Pederson said. "It's huge. It's something we talk about every week, trying to create takeaways. Defense did a nice job that day."
3. Second-quarter surge – and big play for Zay. The Jaguars withstood a fast start from the Titans and rallied in the second quarter in impressive fashion. The Jaguars steadily cut into the lead with field goals of 37 and 43 yards by kicker Riley Patterson, with the 43-yarder making it 14-13 with 3:10 remaining. The Jaguars then got a huge turnover – their third takeaway of the game against no giveaways to that point – when Jaguars linebacker Shaq Quarterman forced a fumble by Henry that Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen recovered at the Jaguars 22 with 1:49 remaining in the half. The Jaguars then drove quickly, with Lawrence throwing 20 yards to wide receiver Zay Jones with :11 remaining in the half for a 20-14 Jaguars lead. Jones caught the deflected pass and got both feet just in bounds, a decision on review after officials originally ruled the pass incomplete. "Did you see my reaction?" Jones said. "I felt as though I had it, then I was nervous because we're getting in the huddle and no one's stopping it. [Left tackle] Cam Robinson did a good job of saying, 'Zay we've got to focus,' and I was like, 'No, it's a touchdown.' We got the call, so it was good."
4. T-Law, T-Law, T-Law. The Jaguars built on their first-half momentum early in the third quarter, with Lawrence continuing the rapid development – and big-time playmaking – he has shown in recent weeks. Lawrence completed seven of eight passes for 67 yards on a 12-play, 72-yard drive to start the half. Lawrence capped the drive with a one yard run around the right side of the Jaguars' line to push the lead to 27-14 with 7:53 remaining in the third quarter, stiff-arming past linebacker Dylan Cole and outrunning cornerback Roger McCreary to the end zone. "I probably should have handed it [off]" Lawrence said. "It was one of those plays where if you make them it's great – like it was. If you don't make them, it's a bad play. It was one of those days where we made those plays. Great teams do that, and I think that's where we're heading and it's exciting." Lawrence's second touchdown pass to Engram (a 21-yarder) capped the Jaguars' ensuing possession and gave the Jaguars 26 consecutive points – and a 33-14 lead with 3:07 remaining in the third quarter. "It was cool to see our offense take off like that," Lawrence said.
5. Close the door. The Jaguars' defense played big in big moments Sunday, and one of the biggest was a late-game sack by Allen. The Jaguars' four takeaways Sunday led to 20 points. "I think that was the biggest thing – we played complementary," Lawrence said. "When the defense gave us a takeaway, we scored on it." But the Titans, after trailing 36-14, cut the lead to 36-22 and drove into Jaguars territory as the two-minute warning approached. The Titans faced second-and-10 from the Jaguars 20 with 2:36 remaining when Allen burst through the line and sacked Tannehill at the Jaguars 28. Tannehill threw incomplete on the next two plays, with the Jaguars running out the clock on