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Rivalry ready to be re-born


Ask a Jaguars fan to name the Jaguars' number one rival and the answer will probably be the Titans. It makes sense. Both teams moved from the old AFC Central into the AFC South together. The rivalry, however, has a very brief history. In fact, it may have only existed for two games, both of them in the 1999 season.

Let's go back to week three of the '99 season. The Titans were playing in Jacksonville in a game that had to be rescued from a TV blackout by seven local businesses that bought the remaining tickets. The upstart, 2-0 Titans had yet to capture the interest of Jaguars fans, as a crowd of 61,502 sat through a day-long rain and watched the Titans rally for a 20-19 win that Samari Rolle clinched with an end-zone interception in the final minute of play.

With that play by Rolle, the rivalry was born. Until then, the Titans/Oilers were a team about which Jaguars fans were very cavalier.

Later that season, the Titans would strike another blow to the Jaguars, a 41-14 victory in Nashville. With that, the Titans had gotten the full attention of Jaguars fans for the AFC title game at Alltel Stadium on Jan. 23, 2000.

The Jaguars had a 14-10 lead at halftime. They had dominated the Titans in the first half and were only 30 minutes away from the Super Bowl, but then the roof caved in on the Jags and the Titans scored 23 unanswered points to run away with a 33-14 win.

Jags fans were now deep into Titans hate. The same team for which Jacksonville had nearly no interest early in the season, was now the bane of Jacksonville's existence. For all intents and purposes, however, the rivalry was over.

The Jaguars went into steep decline, while the Titans remained a playoff team. Then, by the time the Jaguars recovered to become a playoff contender again, the Titans were at the end of their run and went into their own salary cap-induced decline.

Now, they're both back. The Jaguars are on top of their game and the playoffs will be on the line for them this Sunday in Nashville. The Titans may not be a legitimate playoff contender, but they're still in the hunt and, more importantly, are making a statement for their future.

This Sunday, in Nashville, the rivalry will be re-born. This time, I think it's going to last a lot longer.

Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Titans.

  1. Make him be a passer—I'm talking about Vince Young. We know he can run. Let's find out if he can pass.
  1. Take what you want—The Titans' strategy will likely invite the Jaguars to pass, but good teams don't take what you give them, they take what they want. Run it!
  1. Make a big play—Especially in the passing game. A big pass play early will help the Jaguars take what they want.
  1. Fill the pass-rush lanes—That's how you contain a scrambling quarterback.
  1. Win special teams—We've been down this road before. Pacman Jones can make you pay in the return game.
  1. Match their intensity—The Titans and their fans are likely to be at an emotional peak for this game.
  1. Look at the calendar—It's December, a time for clinching playoff berths. A win will put the Jaguars on the verge of clinching.
  1. Beware of tricks—The Titans will have a bag full of them. Count on it.
  1. Forget about awards—Pro-Bowl and rookie of the year honors won't get you into the playoffs.
  1. Turn the tables—The Titans have always seemed to eliminate the Jaguars. It's time the Jaguars eliminate the Titans.
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