NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Next up: the Buffalo Bills.
That will be the opponent for the AFC South Champion Jaguars (10-6) in their first home playoff game in 18 years, with the Bills (9-7) scheduled to visit EverBank Field in an AFC Wild Card Playoff game Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
To hear Doug Marrone tell it, that's where thoughts turned immediately following the Jaguars' 15-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans in the 2017 regular-season finale at Nissan Stadium Sunday afternoon.
"We're going to go back and plan and take a good look at things," Marrone said. "We're not going to be out there celebrating the New Year. We're going to be working to see what we have to do to get ourselves ready."
The consensus in the Jaguars' locker room on Sunday after the game? That despite the disappointment of losing their last two regular-season games, what happened against Tennessee will not be a factor next week.
"Momentum's always nice, but you can get momentum the first play of the game," defensive end Calais Campbell said. "Momentum ebbs and flows; it comes and goes. The way to get momentum is to come out and get the first game."
Linebacker Myles Jack said Sunday will be forgotten quickly.
"Every game matters, but once we get out of 48 hours – Monday or Tuesday – this game doesn't matter," Jack said. "We've got the playoffs, and that's the most important thing. This will only make guys madder and more excited to play. I think this will bring the hunger out of us. It's good timing."
Marrone during his post-game remarks discussed the status of three injured starters who missed Sunday's game, saying that nose tackle Abry Jones (back) and left tackle Cam Robinson (abdomen) were trending in the right direction. "I think there's a good opportunity for that," Marrone said of the duo playing Sunday. Marrone also said there was hope that wide receiver Marqise Lee could play Sunday after missing the last two games with an ankle injury. "That will help," he said.
Images from the Jaguars season finale against the Tennessee Titans.
First-year wide receiver Jaydon Mickens, twice the AFC's Special Teams Player of the Week this season, struggled in a big way Sunday. Most notably, Mickens made two key mistakes on one second-quarter punt return, not only muffing the punt but being called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for hitting a Titans gunner after calling or a fair catch. Tennessee recovered at the Jaguars 23 and the penalty gave the Titans a first down at the Jaguars 12. Ryan Succop's 25-yard field goal three plays later gave Tennessee a 9-3 lead. Mickens later muffed a punt he eventually fielded at the Jaguars 2 and returned three yards. "He obviously had a tough day today, but if he's the type of kid I think he is he'll be able to bounce back," Marrone said.
The Jaguars' defense held the Titans to 232 yards – 66 of which came on a second-quarter screen pass that running back Derrick Henry turned into a touchdown – but defensive players afterward focused on their inability to force turnovers. The Jaguars forced just one turnover – a fumble that defensive end Yannick Ngakoue turned into a 67-yard fourth-quarter touchdown. "We've got to get those takeaways," Jaguars safety Barry Church said. "In order for us to get wins and put our offense in better position we have to be able to take the ball away. We got the one but we need to be able to force more." The Jaguars committed four turnovers and produced one Sunday a week after committing three and forcing one in a loss to the 49ers.
This was a tough game for the Jaguars' wide receivers. Not only did a lost fumble by rookie Keelan Cole lead directly to a Titans first-half field goal, rookie wide receiver Dede Westbrook dropped a pass that would have resulted in a 34-yard third-quarter touchdown. The drop cost the Jaguars a chance to cut the Titans lead to 15-9. "The ball was placed perfectly on the money," Westbrook said. "It's my job as a receiver and me calling myself a playmaker to make that play. At the end of the day, I know this game fell in my lap and of course I didn't execute the play. It's good I have next week to bounce back and I owe the next one to the team."
"I thought Leonard [Fournette] was good running the football. I thought he did a nice job. I just thought we were never able to get into a good rhythm and make that play on offense to get us going."
"The season's over. The playoffs are now here. This is where it's for all the marbles. We look forward to getting back out on the field in a playoff game and playing our best ball of the season."
"When you talk about adversity, those guys need to come back and show they're ready to go. They've got to come back just like all of us do."
---Marrone on the Jaguars' young wide receivers
"In the playoffs, everybody knows it's different. It's a different type of atmosphere. It's a different vibe. Things are heightened up. We knew they would be all in for this game. I think we had chances to win this game. We just didn't make the plays we needed to."
*--Cornerback Jalen Myrick *
"Playoffs are a different speed. It's a different monster. It's a whole different game. Everybody in here knows that. We just have to hopefully get a W."