NASHVILLE, Tenn. – This was gutty. And gritty. And glorious.
It was also the sort of game for the Jaguars you remember for a long time – and that gets you talking postseason again.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence played through injury to throw three touchdown passes and run for another, a maligned defense forced four takeaways and the Jaguars rallied from two first-half deficits in a 36-22 victory over the AFC South-leading Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium Sunday afternoon.
"It means a lot," Head Coach Doug Pederson said. "I'm proud of the guys."
The Jaguars (5-8) won in Nashville for the first time since 2013. The Titans (7-6) have lost their last three games and now lead the Jaguars by two games with four remaining.
"It just showed what this team is made of, and the direction we're headed," Lawrence said after playing through a toe injury that kept him out of practice Wednesday and Thursday.
"It's huge to get some momentum back for this last stretch at the end of the season."
Lawrence added, "We still believe everything's in front of us. This is a great start, great momentum. Our preparation was really good this week. We have to do that every week. That's where this team's growing. You see us starting to stack more games like this. It's fun to be able to be a part of it."
The Jaguars play host to the Titans in the January 8 regular-season finale. They also have games remaining against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday, the New York Jets on December 22 and the Houston Texans of the AFC South on January 1.
"It means we're closer to our goal," Jaguars defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot said. "We have to make sure we win our division games. That's what we did. We won the first one. We have to win against Tennessee and we have to win against the Texans to get where we want to go."
Sunday's victory came eight days after the Jaguars' most one-sided loss of the season – 40-14 to the Detroit Lions.
"They bounced back from last week; we talked a lot about that and how we all felt last week," Pederson said. "They understood last week was an embarrassment. We don't every want to coach and play that way. The way the players handled themselves this week, I thought, was really good and we have to do it again this week."
Lawrence, listed as questionable entering the weekend with a toe injury, completed 30 of 42 passes for 368 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions in a game the Jaguars trailed 14-7 in the second quarter.
The Jaguars scored on five consecutive possessions after that to take a 33-14 lead, with two consecutive drives ending in field goals by kicker Riley Patterson before three consecutive touchdown drives at the end of the second quarter into the third. The Jaguars extended the lead to 36-14 before a late Tennessee rally.
Engram caught 11 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Jones caught eight passes for 77 yards and one touchdown.
Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed 25 of 38 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Titans running back Derrick Henry rushed 17 times for 121 yards and one touchdown but rushed for two yards in the second half as the Jaguars pulled steadily away.
Walker's sack resulted in the first of four Jaguars takeaways – three in the first half – when Walker forced a fumble by Tannehill that Jaguars defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot recovered at the Titans 19, leading to the Jaguars' first touchdown.
Safety Andrew Wingard also registered an interception in the second quarter Sunday to set up a field goal, and Josh Allen's recovery of a fumble by Henry led to a go-ahead touchdown pass from Lawrence to wide receiver Zay Jones late in the first half. Linebacker Shaq Quarterman's hit on Henry forced the fumble.
Defensive lineman Arden Key recovered a fourth-quarter fumble – this one on a fumbled direct snap to Henry. That led to a field goal by Patterson that pushed the Jaguars' lead to 36-14.
"I know we're building something special," Allen said. "We talked about this. We put it in the air. This is one of the things we had to do to get where we need to be. Now, we have to move on. We have to be ready and go get the next one."
Step by step:
- Henry's three-yard touchdown run with 9:09 remaining in the first quarter capped a 10-play, 76-yard, game-opening drive and gave the Titans a 7-0 lead. Lawrence tied it 7-7 with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Engram with 6:01 remaining in the first quarter, a play set up by Smoot's fumble recovery at the Titans 19. The Titans pushed the lead to 14-7 on the ensuing series when Tannehill passed 10 yards to tight end Chig Okonkwo with 3:03 remaining in the first quarter.
- The Jaguars trimmed the lead to 14-10 with Patterson's 37-yard field goal with 8:52 remaining in the second quarter; Wingard's interception and return to the Jaguars 46 set up the drive. Patterson's 43-yard field goal with 3:10 remaining in the second quarter pulled the Jaguars to within 14-13. Lawrence passed 20 yards to Jones with :11 remaining in the first half to give the Jaguars a 20-14 lead.
- Lawrence capped a 12-play, 72-yard drive to start the second half, with his one-yard run giving the Jaguars a 27-14 lead with 7:53 remaining in the third quarter; Lawrence completed seven of eight passes for 67 yards on the drive. Lawrence's 21-yard touchdown pass to Engram on the ensuing series capped a five-play, 63-yard drive and pushed the Jaguars' lead to 33-14 with 3:07 remaining in the third quarter.
- Patterson's 33-yard field goal with 10:52 remaining in the fourth quarter pushed the Jaguars' lead to 36-14, a score set up by Key's fumble recovery at the Titans 30.
- The Jaguars' six inactive players Sunday were safety Andre Cisco (shoulder), wide receiver Kendric Pryor, outside linebacker De'Shaan Dixon, linebacker Chad Muma (ankle), defensive tackle Corey Peters and cornerback Tevaughn Campbell; Muma missed a game for the first time this season and Cisco missed a second consecutive game with the injury. Wide receiver Zay Jones played after being listed as questionable entering the weekend with a chest injury.
- Wingard sustained a shoulder injury in the first quarter and returned the game on the ensuing series. Walker sustained a fourth-quarter ankle injury.
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