NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Senior writer John Oehser examines five key plays from the Jaguars' 20-0 loss to the Tennessee Titans in a 2021 Week 14 game at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday
1. Scraaaaaamble! – and a flag. The Titans moved quickly to take early momentum, but their opening drive that led to an early lead was routine – until a key third-down scramble and a subsequent penalty against the Jaguars. The Titans faced 3rd-and-7 at the Jaguars 48 when Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill dropped to pass. The middle of the field opened, and Tannehill ran for an easy first down and 17-yard gain. The play turned into a 32-yard gain to the Jaguars 16 when safety Andrew Wingard was called for unnecessary roughness at the end of the play. Running back D'onta Foreman scored standing up on a five-yard run up the middle three plays later for a 7-0 Titans lead with 10:03 remaining in the first quarter.
2. It's gooooood. Sunday's game featured few big plays early, with the Titans controlling the first half true to their identity – running patiently and consistently, wearing the Jaguars down at the line. They held a 19:02-10:58 time-of-possession advantage at halftime, but the Jaguars remained within a touchdown much of the first half. Tennessee's methodical, patient approach made their long second-quarter possession a key point in the game. The Titans used 15 plays to move 62 yards on the drive, which stalled at the Jaguars 26. Titans kicker Randy Bullock, whose miss from 47 yards late in the first quarter kept the Jaguars in the game, converted from 44 yards to give the Titans a 10-0 lead with 3:10 remaining in the second quarter. The Titans had run 32 plays to 12 for the Jaguars at that point and had outgained the Jaguars 158-33. "The best defense is to sustain drives with first downs offensively] and obviously score points,” Jaguars [Head Coach Urban Meyer said. "That didn't happen today."
3. Picked … The Jaguars despite the Titans' first-half statistical dominance had a very real chance to start the second half – and they gained a measure of momentum on their first third-quarter drive, too. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence moved the offense from the Jaguars 25 to the 45 with the key play, a 14-yard pass, to wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. on 3rd-and-4 from the 29. Lawrence threw incomplete to tight end James O’Shaughnessy on the next play, with Titans safety Kevin Byard defensing the pass. Lawrence on the ensuing play threw hard and high over the middle to wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr., with the pass bouncing from his hands and intercepted by linebacker Rashaan Evans for a Titans first down at their 44. "That's tough, you know?" Lawrence said. "That's just a play that bounced their way. And then from there, we kind of seemed to go downhill." Credit to the Jaguars' defense for not making this a bigger play and forcing a Tennessee punt on the ensuing series.
4. Screeeeeeeeen! – and a flag. The Titans' first extended drive of the second half had a similar feel to their first-quarter touchdown drive – with a Jaguars penalty helping the Titans' cause. The Jaguars' defense continued to keep the game within reach, but then Tannehill beat an aggressive Jaguars defense with a screen pass to Titans and former Jaguars tight end Geoff Swaim. With blocking in front of him, Swaim got free down the left sideline for a 24-yard gain to the Jaguars 35 on 2nd-and-11 from the Titans 41. A low-block penalty credited to Wingard moved the ball to the Jaguars 20.
5. … and picked (again). Lawrence' four interceptions didn't define this game as much as the Titans' ability to methodically control the tempo and momentum – and to finish their two best drives of the game with touchdowns. But Lawrence's two interceptions in the third quarter hurt – and contributed mightily to the Titans maintaining their double-digit lead even as the Jaguars' defense continued to play some decent bend-but-don't break defense throughout the first three quarters. The Jaguars trailed 17-0 in the third quarter and were putting together one of their better drives of the day, with Lawrence passing deep to wide receiver Laquon Treadwell for 41 yards – the Jaguars' longest offensive play since a 66-yard touchdown run by wide receiver/returner Jamal Agnew in Indianapolis November 14. The Jaguars then faced 1st-and-20 at the Titans 3 when Lawrence threw short over the middle to wide receiver Tavon Austin. Linebacker Jayon Brown intercepted to give the Titans possession at their 33. "We had Tavon (Austin) on a route inside and he beat his man, but then the linebacker dropped out underneath it right as I thew it and they brought more guys than we could block," Lawrence said. "That's a tough one. Obviously, chalk that up on me. Pre-snap I didn't like the look and I was behind the clock, and I wanted to check it. I just should have called timeout. I rushed myself into that one. Hindsight, obviously, I would have wished I would have called the timeout to get us in a better situation."