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Five key plays: Titans 31, Jaguars 10

Jacksonville Jaguars against the Tennessee Titans during an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020 in Jacksonville, Fla.
Jacksonville Jaguars against the Tennessee Titans during an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020 in Jacksonville, Fla.

JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines five key plays that shaped the Jaguars' 31-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday

1.Tennessee trickery. The scoring opened in wild fashion for Tennessee Sunday – and in disappointing fashion for Jacksonville. Running back Derrick Henry took a handoff from Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill on 1st-and-10 from the Jaguars 37. Henry pitched back to Tannehill, who threw deep to wide receiver A.J. Brown. The physical Brown caught the ball one-handed over Jaguars cornerback Sidney Jones IV, giving the Titans a 7-0 lead with 7:56 remaining in the first quarter. "They end up playing man there," Tannehill said of the Jaguars' defense. "They keep disciplined eyes on their guys, so the fake didn't do a whole lot. But you have a guy like A.J. … he got his hips in front of his guy. I was able to just put it up and he made a heck of a catch there holding off the defender and then bringing it in in the end zone." The play defined a frustrating start for the Jaguars; their first drive had ended when kicker Aldrick Rosas slipped and had a 53-yard field goal blocked by defensive lineman DaQuan Jones.

2.Fourth-down stop. The Titans held momentum much of the first half, outgaining the Jaguars 149-69 through the game's first 20 minutes. But the Jaguars stayed close early – thanks largely to a huge stop by a scrappy defense early in the second quarter. The Titans, leading 7-0, drove from their 25 to the Jaguars 9. Facing 4th-and-2 from there, Titans Head Coach Mike Vrabel opted to go for the first down. Running back Jeremy McNichols ran left and was stopped by safeties Jarrod Wilson and Andrew Wingard for a two-yard loss and a Jaguars first down at their 11.

3.FUMBLE!!! The Titans still had momentum late in the second quarter – and they still led 7-0 with 4:32 remaining in the half. Then Tannehill threw short to wide receiver Corey Davis. Defensive end Dawuane Smoot, who entered the game leading the team with 4.5 sacks this season, forced a fumble that defensive tackle Doug Costin recovered at the Titans 40. The Jaguars failed to take full advantage of the opportunity, but Rosas' 53-yard field goal four plays after the turnover cut the Titans' lead to four points and kept the Jaguars close until just after the two-minute warning.

4.Derrick Henry run up the middle. The Titans controlled momentum and tempo throughout the first half – in the final minute of the half, they got their payoff. Henry, who had huge games against the Jaguars in the teams' second meeting each of the last two seasons, assured that that would be the case again Sunday when he broke through a hole in the middle of the defense and scored on an easy 36-yard run to push the Titans' lead to 14-3 with :44 remaining in the half. That play capped a drive on which Henry ran on all five plays – for 75 yards. This was Henry's first breakaway run of the game, gave him 122 yards rushing and a touchdown on 15 carries to that point and gave Tennessee what turned out to be an insurmountable lead. "I think, for 25 minutes of the first half, we were knocking it out, producing," Jaguars middle linebacker Joe Schobert said. "And I think there was just a couple plays that got out that separated the score at the end of the first half."

5.Henry for 47 more. It was difficult to select any one play for the Titans in the second half as one that shaped the game's momentum because they had the game essentially in hand at halftime. But if any doubt about the outcome remained, it ended on the first series of the third quarter when Henry ran 47 yards to the Jaguars 5 on the Titans' fourth play of the half. Tannehill threw a five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Geoff Swaim – who played with the Jaguars last season – on the next play for a 24-3 lead with 12:31 remaining. Henry's one-yard touchdown run capped the ensuing series for a 31-3 Titans lead. "Obviously, the third quarter wasn't good for us," Schobert said. "We were able to kind of reload back in there towards the end, but you can't really have that. It's tough and it's something our young team has to learn, is just, you can't let one play snowball into the next."

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