JACKSONVILLE – Maybe Minshew Magic is for real after all.
Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II, making his second NFL start, passed for two touchdowns and the Jaguars’ defense turned in a second stellar effort in five days – this one in a critical 20-7 victory over the Tennessee Titans in front of prime-time crowd of 58,613 at TIAA Bank Field Thursday night.
The victory was the first for the Jaguars over the Titans since December 2016, with Tennessee sweeping the Jaguars each of the past two seasons.
“That’s a team we haven’t beat since I’ve been here,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “That was something that was weighing on my heart.”
Added defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, “It feels great. Two years in a row, those guys really had our number. We had their number today.
“I hope that bad taste in their mouths stays in there for a long time.”
Minshew, starting for injured starter Nick Foles (broken clavicle), threw touchdown passes on the game’s first two drives – and the Jaguars’ defense shut out the Titans for the first three quarters.
“It felt pretty good,” Campbell said. “This was a must-win. We were locked in and focused on a short week. We went out and played a decent ball game – good enough to win.”
Minshew, a sixth-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, completed 20 of 30 passes for 204 yards and the two touchdowns with no interceptions.
Minshew’s seven-yard pass to tight end James O’Shaughnessy turned an early muffed punt into a 7-0 lead, and Minshew capped the ensuing drive with a perfect pass to wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. for a 22-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Tennessee never got closer than 10 points again.
Minshew now has three touchdown passes this season, and Chark has a touchdown reception in each of the team’s first three games. Chark caught four passes for 76 yards Thursday.
Images from the Jaguars Thursday Night matchup with the Tennessee Titans.
The Jaguars registered nine sacks Thursday, with defensive end Calais Campbell getting three sacks and rookie edge defender Josh Allen finishing with two and a half. Defensive end Dawuane Smoot had a sack and a half. Defensive tackle Taven Bryan and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue had one each, with defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and linebacker Leon Jacobs splitting a sack.
The Jaguars and Titans are now both 1-2.
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 23 of 40 passes for 304 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions. Titans running back Derrick Henry, who rushed for 238 yards and four touchdowns in a Titans victory over the Jaguars in Nashville last December, rushed for 44 yards Thursday with a touchdown.
The game was the Jaguars’ lone scheduled prime-time, national-television appearance and came with many observers following the news regarding Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who reportedly has requested a trade from the team. Ramsey started and played the entire game.
*Step by step: *
*The Jaguars turned their first takeaway of the season – and the first Titans giveaway of the season – into an early lead, with Minshew throwing a seven-yard touchdown pass to tight end James O'Shaughnessy one play after Jacobs recovered a muffed punt. Minshew led a six-play, 62-yard drive on the ensuing series that ended with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Chark for a 14-0 lead with 6:36 remaining in the quarter.
*Neither team scored in the second quarter, with the Jaguars finishing the half having held Tennessee to 108 yards. Henry had 31 yards rushing at halftime and Mariota had 62 yards passing.
*The Jaguars pushed the lead to 17-0 with a 40-yard field goal by Josh Lambo with 7:54 remaining in the third quarter; Lambo’s field goal came one play after wide receiver Dede Westbrook dropped what would have been Minshew’s third touchdown pass of the game in the left side of the end zone.
*Tennessee cut the lead to 17-7 when Henry capped a 66-yard drive with a one-yard run with 12:04 remaining in the fourth quarter. Lambo’s 48-yard field goal with 7:34 remaining capped the ensuing possession and pushed the lead to 20-7.
*Injury report: *Jaguars wide receiver Chris Conley sustained a second-quarter ankle injury and returned. … Linebacker Myles Jack sustained a concussion in the third quarter and did not return. …
Notable: Cornerback A.J. Bouye started after missing this past Sunday’s loss to the Houston Texans with a hip injury, and Ngakoue started after missing the Texans game with a hamstring injury. Left tackle Cam Robinson made his first start of the season after missing the first two games with a hyperextended right knee. A.J. Cann started at right guard, with wide receiver Marqise Lee active after missing last week with a knee issue. Swing tackle Cedric Ogbuehi played after missing the first two games with a hamstring injury.* … *Cann rotated with Will Richardson Jr. much of the game and Robinson rotated with Ogbuehi. … The Jaguars’ early 7-0 lead Thursday was their first lead against Tennessee since their September 2017 meeting; it was their first seven-point lead versus Tennessee since their December 2016 meeting -- Doug Marrone’s first game as interim head coach.
*What’s next: *The Jaguars will play the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High Sunday, Sept. 29 at 4:25 p.m. Eastern.