Through a season of frustration and disappointment, the Jaguars had always clung to one, simple source of pride: Nobody had blown them out.
They had lost five games by a total of 10 points. No one had beaten them by more than nine points. The Jaguars had always been competitive. Then, the Tennessee Titans took that away, too.
Always, it's the Titans. They are the team that torments the Jaguars as no other team does.
In 1998, when they were the Oilers, they came to Jacksonville late in the season with the Jaguars poised to celebrate their first-ever division title. Then the Titans cancelled that celebration.
A year later, the Titans came back to Jacksonville with the Jaguars poised to claim the AFC title; one win away from the Super Bowl. And the Titans canceled that celebration, too, rallying in the second half to score a win from which the Jaguars have never recovered.
There were no celebrations planned for today's game. This was a game only about pride. Then the Titans shamed the Jaguars with a lopsided, 28-10 defeat that forbids this team from making any more statements about a field goal here, a touchdown there and what might've been.
Tennessee's win today was so absolute that it left Jacksonville with very little in the way of hope to take into the holidays. Oh, sure, there's plenty of reason to have hope for this team's future, but it's difficult to access that kind of enthusiasm after you've been manhandled.
The final stats were boosted by an 85-yard touchdown drive in the final minutes of the game, as the Titans' concerned themselves only with allowing that time would expire. Rookie quarterback David Garrard led that final drive; a feel-good effort that helped ease the pain of an afternoon of being whipped.
"I don't know what it is with that team," Fred Taylor said of the Titans, who've dominated the Jaguars to the point of embarrassment. "It's something different. We fight our hearts out. I wouldn't say we're afraid. There's something about that squad. It goes back to the AFC championship game."
Always, it goes back to Jan. 23, 2000. It was the darkest day in this franchise's history, but today wasn't far behind. A heavy feeling hung in the air. It was clearly despair. You were either angry or sad; take your pick.
By halftime, the Titans had run 37 plays to the Jaguars' 18. The Titans had more than doubled the Jaguars' yardage output, and enjoyed a 118-16 advantage in rushing yardage.
"It was a total shellacking. We didn't play well and we got our (butt) whipped," Marcus Stroud said.
And that's what hurts the most. The Titans had even taken the Jaguars' dignity.
Now we are left to ponder the future of this franchise. Everyone is expecting offseason changes. Everyone wants to know what those changes will be. All we can do is wait.
"Only one man decides what happens with everything," Mark Brunell said, referring to owner Wayne Weaver, of course.
A week from now, this team will be turned over completely to Weaver. Sixteen games will have been played. All of the necessary information will have been accumulated. All eyes will turn in Weaver's direction.
Coach Tom Coughlin knew it would be this way. Three consecutive losing seasons are plenty of warning for any coach. But Coughlin was hoping his team's performance against the Titans would be a mark on the positive side of his ledger.
Yeah, there's something about that team.