NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The familiar word no longer worked Saturday afternoon.
The Jaguars lost to the Tennessee Titans, 23-17, in front of an announced 69,143 at LP Field in downtown Nashville, Tenn., on Saturday afternoon, and when the Jaguars' second consecutive loss was over, Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew said it no longer was accurate to talk of near-misses or frustration.
That time ended a while back, Jones-Drew said.
"It's past frustrating," Jones-Drew said. "It hurts."
That was the mood around the Jaguars' locker room afterward.
The Jaguars, who now have lost three of four games under interim coach Mel Tucker, talked of missed opportunities and unsatisfactory execution.
Mostly, they talked about disappointment over another game lost that could have been different.
"It was very disappointing," Tucker said. "The guys fought hard. The effort was there all the way to the end, but we didn't execute well enough on our side of the ball. We didn't make enough plays.
"They made more plays than we did throughout the game. We came up short."
The Jaguars (4-11) need a victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the regular-season finale Sunday to avoid finishing 4-12 for the second time in franchise history. The last time was the 1995 expansion season.
Asked the focus moving forward, Jaguars defensive end Jeremy Mincey replied, "Colts," he said.
"It's time to play the Colts," Mincey said. "We have to get ready for the Colts."
Between now and then, Tucker said the focus will be on continuing to improve after a game in which the Jaguars and multiple opportunities to overcome a difficult start.
Tennessee (8-7) took a 10-0 lead on a 51-yard field goal by Rob Bironas and a 55-yard touchdown from Matt Hasselbeck to tight end Jared Cook, but an impressive drive by rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars offense got Jacksonville back in the game, and the Jaguars stayed within range thereafter.
The first-half touchdown drive was one of the best of the season for Gabbert and the offense. He completed 5 of 5 passes for 68 yards, and Jones-Drew's 10-yard run bade it 10-7, Titans, with :19 remaining in the quarter.
A 1-yard run by running back Jamie Harper with 12:03 remaining in the second quarter made it 17-7, but Josh Scobee's first field goal – a 39-yarder 31 seconds before halftime – in four games made it 17-10 entering the third quarter.
Hasselbeck completed 24 of 40 passes for 350 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions playing against a Jaguars defense that started just one of the four players in the secondary who started opening day.
"No excuses, no explanations," Tucker said. "This is a production-based business. We have to get the job done and we didn't as a team."
Two more field goals by Bironas, one from 51 yards in the third quarter and another from 35 yards in the fourth, made it 23-10 before the Jaguars forced two turnovers to give themselves a chance in the fourth quarter.
The first fourth-quarter Titans turnover – an interception by Morgan Trent off a deflection by nickelback Drew Coleman – failed to yield points. The Jaguars drove to the Tennessee 9 after Morgan's return to the 18, but Gabbert's pass to wide receiver Jarett Dillard was deflected by cornerback Jason McCourty.
Safety Michael Griffin intercepted in the end zone to end the threat.
"I support that call," Tucker said. "We just didn't execute it. Give them credit."
That left the Titans with a 23-10 lead, but after safety Dawan Landry recovered a fumble by Harper, the Jaguars had a first down at the Tennessee 35.
A 1-yard run by Jones capped a 35-yard drive and made it 23-17, with 3:44 remaining. It was Jones' first rushing touchdown since November 11, 2007, also at Tennessee.
The Jaguars still had a chance, but a 29-yard pass from Hasselbeck to Cook converted 3rd-and-2 from the Titans 22. Two plays later, Chris Johnson ran around right end for a 13-yard gain and a first down just before the two-minute warning.
Hasselbeck kneeled to drain the clock after that.
"We have one more game guaranteed us," Tucker said. "There's no quit in any of these guys and these guys will prepare. These guys will play hard."
*Rookie free agent Kevin Rutland had his leg stepped on in pre-game and did not play. Rutland has been starting, but Tucker said when his leg was stepped on the decision was made to play Rutland only in an emergency role. Third-year veteran Morgan Trent, signed in early December, started in his place. "It happens," Tucker said. "Morgan Trent had an opportunity to step up and play."
*The Titans' first touchdown came on a 55-yard pass to Cook, who beat middle linebacker Paul Posluszny down the middle of the field. Posluszny took responsibility for the play afterward, but Tucker said, "That was a poor match-up. Give them credit. We were in a poor match-up situation. He was where he needed to be. He got outrun. That happens sometimes. It hurt us."
*Starting cornerback Ashton Youboty left the game in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury. With Rutland limited, David Jones played in his place.
*Wide receiver Mike Thomas said the off-season will be an important time for not only the Jaguars' wide receivers and Gabbert. "We're going to have to put in a lot of work this off-season to get a feel for one another," Thomas said. "It's not there, apparently. We have to work to get it right. It will come and hopefully, things will start turning around for us. It's going to be a process. We just have to keep working on it."