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Past no motivator


It was once one of pro football's most intense rivalries, but that was three years ago. Following the Titans' 1999 AFC title game win in Jacksonville, games between the two teams have never seemed to mean quite as much. The two teams have never been at the tops of their games simultaneously, again.

The Titans remained in the playoffs in 2000, while the Jaguars went into decline. Then, last year, both teams fell hard. This year, it's the Jaguars who are in ascent, while the Titans have reached the lowest point in their Nashville history.

So, how about one more for old times? You know, Steve McNair, Eddie George and Frank Wycheck against Mark Brunell, Fred Taylor and Jimmy Smith. Why not?

Well, that may sound nice but it stirs no interest in the Jaguars locker room. The past is apparently very old news. These are two teams who will be fighting for today when they meet at The Coliseum this Sunday in Nashville.

For the 3-1 Jaguars, it's an opportunity game; the opportunity to effectively make the AFC South a two-team race. For the Titans, it's a desperation game; the Titans are desperate to breathe life back into their season following a dismal 1-4 start.

"Tom (Coughlin) told us this morning that it's a new year, a new team and different circumstances. Their backs are to the wall and they could care less about what happened in the past," quarterback Mark Brunell said.

"We just want to win. It's a rivalry but it's different to every guy. To me it's a road game; it's not payback. I just want to win this game. Would winning this week make it more special because it's the Titans? No," Brunell said.

So that's the kind of flavor coming out of both locker rooms this week. Until someone fires the first salvo, there would seem to be no particular spice for this game, other than what it means to each team's immediate future.

That's where Coughlin has been very thorough in cautioning his team against complacency. At 1-4 and a bye to follow this game, Tennessee is expected to leave it all on the field Sunday. They know this is their chance to get back into the division title race; a win over the Jaguars, followed by consecutive road wins at Cincinnati and Indianapolis.

"They're going to be ready to play. That head coach will have them ready to play. Don't worry about 1-4," Jaguars wide receiver Patrick Johnson said.

How about 3-1? Should we worry about that?

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