JACKSONVILLE – This time, early fight wasn't nearly enough.
And this time, for the first time in a while, the game got away from the Jaguars early – largely because of a familiar nemesis and their all too-familiar best player.
Derrick Henry – the Tennessee Titans' powerful, stiff-arming running back and the NFL's leading rusher – turned in another dominant performance against the Jaguars, powering the Titans as they pulled away for a 31-10 victory at TIAA Bank Field Sunday afternoon.
"We keep fighting, we do the best we can, we take advantage of every opportunity and go from there," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said. "With the record and what's going on, obviously, they have a lot of things that you can just check out on, whether you're a coach or whether you're a player.
"But these guys haven't done that. None of us our proud of the record. Am I proud of the guys and proud of this team, about the way they go about their business? I am."
Henry, who turned in memorable performances in late-season victories over the Jaguars each of the last two seasons, continued that trend Sunday by rushing 26 times for 215 yards and two touchdowns.
"If he gets through the line and he gets out into the second level, he gets out into open space with his stiff-arms, with his speed, he's a dangerous runner," Jaguars middle linebacker Joe Schobert said. "He's obviously got good vision so he knows when to bounce it if guys are crashing too hard on the outside, which he did a couple times today.
"You've just got to really be on top of it, dot your I's and cross your T's."
Henry's 36-yard touchdown run late in the first half gave the Titans a 14-3 lead that never got smaller.
"Again, it's not from a lack of effort," Marrone said. "It's just sometimes those other guys win, too. They win on those plays and they cost us, and that's one of the things that happen."
The Jaguars (1-12) lost a 12th consecutive game, extending their franchise record for consecutive losses in a single season. The Titans improved to 9-4 and won their third consecutive game in the series.
The loss featured yet another quarterback change for the Jaguars, with second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew II – the Jaguars' starter in Games 1-7 before a thumb injury – replacing an ineffective Mike Glennon in the third quarter.
"He threw some good balls and we left some plays out there and he had some drops," Marrone said. "It's just tough. I think it's not on one person."
Minshew, who entered with the Jaguars trailing 31-3, completed 18 of 31 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. Glennon, starting his third consecutive game, completed 13 of 23 passes for 85 yards and no touchdowns with an interception.
"I just told the guys, 'Let's just go have fun. We can't worry about the score; we can't worry about anything else. Let's just go enjoy this, play the game. It's not like we're doing chores, we get to play a game,''' Minshew said. "I think it got something going a little bit, wish it had been better."
Glennon had replaced rookie Jake Luton three games ago. Luton had started three consecutive games after Minshew reported his thumb injury.
The Jaguars had been competitive in four of five games since a Week 8 bye, losing narrowly to playoff-contending Green Bay (24-20), Cleveland (27-25) and Minnesota (27-24, overtime) during that span.
The Jaguars kept Sunday's game close for a quarter and a half, but Henry's 36-yard touchdown started a 24-0 Tennessee run that turned a 7-3 game into a 31-3 lead on four consecutive possessions. Henry's one-yard run midway through the third quarter put the Titans ahead by 28 points, with Minshew entering the game on the ensuing series.
Jaguars running back James Robinson, who entered the game as the NFL's third-leading rusher, rushed for 67 yards on 12 carries – and went over 1,000 yards rushing for the season with a 47-yard run early in the fourth quarter. He became the fastest undrafted player in NFL history – and fourth overall – to rush for 1,000 yards as a rookie.
"They had a good defensive plan," Robinson said. "They shot gaps, and I mean, they just did well on defense."
Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill, after throwing four touchdown passes in a Week 2 victory over Jacksonville, completed 19 of 24 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions Sunday.
The Jaguars sacked Tannehill once, with linebacker Joe Giles-Harris getting to him in the second quarter.
Step by step:
*The Titans took a 7-0 lead when wide receiver A.J. Brown caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill in the back corner of the end zone with 7:56 remaining in the first quarter; Brown caught the pass one-handed over cornerback Sidney Jones IV, with Tannehill throwing after handing off to Henry and receiving a pitch from Henry. The Jaguars' first drive had ended when kicker Aldrick Rosas slipped and had a 53-yard field goal blocked by defensive lineman DaQuan Jones.
*The Titans controlled the game's momentum and continued to outgain the Jaguars early in the second quarter. But the Jaguars stayed close when safeties Jarrod Wilson and Andrew Wingard tackled Titans running back Jeremy McNichols for a two-yard loss on 4th-and-2 from the Jaguars 9 with just under 10 minutes remaining before halftime. The Jaguars cut the lead to 7-3 with a 53-yard field goal by Rosas with 3:27 remaining in the half; the play was set up when defensive tackle Doug Costin recovered a fumble by Titans wide receiver Corey Davis at the Titans 40. Henry's 36-yard run came on the ensuing series, and the Titans then pushed the lead to 17-3 with a 53-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski on the final play of the half.
*The Titans pulled away quickly to start the second half, with Tannehill throwing a five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Geoff Swaim on the first series of the third quarter and Henry scoring on a one-yard run on Tennessee's next series. Minshew on his first possession pulled the Jaguars to within 21 points, 31-10, with 2:59 remaining in the third quarter with a five-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Keelan Cole. Neither team scored in the fourth quarter.
*Notable: *Center Brandon Linder was among seven players made inactive by the Jaguars 90 minutes before kickoff Sunday. The Jaguars' other inactives Sunday were: Rookie quarterback Jake Luton, cornerback Luq Barcoo, linebacker Kamalei Correa (hamstring), linebacker Quincy Williams, tight end Tyler Davis and defensive end Reggie Gilbert. Cornerback Sidney Jones IV played after missing three games with an Achilles injury and tight end Tyler Eifert played after being questionable this week with a shoulder injury.
*Injury report: *Jaguars safety Josh Jones sustained a shoulder injury in the first quarter and returned before leaving the game later with the injury.