NASHVILLE—Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson upstaged Vince Young's return to the starting lineup with a record-setting performance that led the Titans to their first win of the season and likely extinguished whatever dream the Jaguars had of being a playoff contender.
Johnson rushed for 228 of the Titans' 305 rushing yards, in a 30-13 victory that left the Jaguars humbled and embarrassed. Both Johnson's and the Titans' rushing totals are Jaguars opponents records.
"We all saw the same thing. It wasn't acceptable at all," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said.
The loss left the Jaguars at 3-4, while the win will likely allow Young to remain the team's starting quarterback. The game was billed as Young's return, and he played efficiently in completing 15 of 18 passes for 125 yards, one touchdown and a 114.1 passer rating, but Young was not the difference-maker in the game.
"I don't recall Vince making any blocks or breaking any tackles," Del Rio said, then adding that Young did, indeed, scramble for some key first downs. "Give him credit; he's the winning quarterback."
Johnson was the star, but it could've just as easily have been Maurice Jones-Drew, who countered Johnson's touchdown runs of 52 and 89 yards with scoring dashes of 79 and 80 yards. It marks the first time in NFL history that one game produced four touchdown runs of 50 yards or longer.
Jones-Drew, however, clearly wins the award for highest yards-per-carry average, 22.1, the result of only getting eight carries in the game. At one point, he had rushed five times for 172 yards.
"I felt very confident coming here," Jones-Drew said after the game.
Jones-Drew's success begged the question: Why didn't the Jaguars run the ball more? The Jaguars' first nine plays were pass plays and Jones-Drew's first rushing attempt wasn't until midway through the second quarter and it resulted in an 80-yard touchdown run.
"We felt we could attack certain people. We just weren't able to make plays. We just left our defense out there too long," Jones-Drew said, diplomatically dodging the question.
Del Rio had a different answer. He blamed the Jaguars' failure to establish mix in play-calling or rhythm early in the game on the defense's inability to get off the field.
"My view on the start of the game is we didn't get off the field and give the ball back to our offense," Del Rio said.
Quarterback David Garrard suffered one of the worst performances of his career, completing only 14 of 27 passes for 139 yards and being intercepted twice en route to a 35.9 passer rating.
Del Rio was asked what happened to Garrard?
"I don't know I would say anything happened to David other than to say defensively we didn't do enough to let our offense win the football game. They doubled our time of possession," Del Rio said.
Nevertheless, the Jaguars rallied from a 13-0 deficit to have tied the game at 13-13 on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, which resulted in a 79-yard touchdown run by Jones-Drew. The conversion attempt was blocked but the Jaguars appeared to be in the driver's seat, until Johnson broke loose on a 52-yard touchdown run in the following possession.
"He's a great running back. He can break the game open at any time," rookie defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said of Johnson.
Del Rio accepted responsibility for the defeat but Garrard accepted blame for the players.
"We're the ones on the field. We appreciate Jack saying that but we have to do better as players," Garrard said.