JACKSONVILLE – You couldn't be there without feeling it.
Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said that was true before the final home game of the 2014 regular season, and it was true during it and afterward, too.
The Jaguars' fans showed up and were a factor Thursday.
And those fans mattered very much.
"I think as I'm getting to be more and more around Jacksonville, you really feel the fans and just how much passion they have," Bradley said Friday, a day after the Jaguars' 21-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans at EverBank Field in the 2014 regular-season home finale. "Before the game, pre-game – how they were all here – then to stick through it the whole game …"
Bradley said that mood extended to players on the game's final play, when defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks sacked Titans quarterback Charlie Whitehurst to end Tennessee's final drive.
The sack not only secured the victory, it triggered a $600,000 bonus in Marks' contract for reaching the eight-sack mark for the season. Players mobbed Marks. Bradley said Marks told him afterward what he liked best was that it seemed teammates were happier than he was about the moment.
Bradley paused and smiled.
"I don't know if I completely agree with him on that," Bradley said, laughing, "but there were guys who did have a genuine appreciation for him. It was a cool end for the whole night. It was a great atmosphere and cool to be a part of it."
The Jaguars, after a 1-10 start, have won two of their last four games, rallying from double-digit deficits each time. They beat the New York Giants, 25-24, after trailing 21-0 on November 30.
"I really like the development of our guys," Bradley said. "I think as a coaching staff we want to be around a bunch of guys that love football and they have really, really good spirit and it's infectious and they can't wait to come to the facility and work. I believe we've got guys with that type of energy. Now it's a matter of giving them reps and just working with them as a staff. …
"Obviously we know we're going to have to add some players through the draft and through free agency to build on these strengths that we have, but I really like the development and the dynamics of the team. We've just got to keep speeding it up as much as possible."
Also around the Jaguars Friday:
*Bradley lauded the play Thursday of rookie linebacker Telvin Smith, who finished with 15 tackles, as well as rookie quarterback Blake Bortles and the wide receivers. "Some guys stepped up," Bradley said. "Different guys did it at different times. … Overall, it was a really good team effort." …
*Bradley said a key to the Jaguars being able to rally from a 10-point first-half deficit was the running late in the first half by running back Toby Gerhart. He rushed for 24 yards on three consecutive plays, setting up an 80-yard drive that ended with a four-yard touchdown pass from Bortles to tight end Marcedes Lewis. "The whole team became energized because of that," Bradley said. …
*Bradley said a review of the video showed that running back Jordan Todman's 62-yard fourth-quarter touchdown run was helped by a fake reverse handoff on the play. Todman faked a handoff to wide receiver Marqise Lee, which froze the defense just enough to create a lane for Todman. "It gave us a little bit of space," Bradley said. "I think sometimes that's what happens with defenses with fake reverses and cut plays and slide plays and things like that. At times the defender can lose his eyes, not sure right where the ball is. There's just a little bit of hesitation." …
*Bradley said Todman likely would not have been in the game in that situation if not for an injury to starter Toby Gerhart, who was out of the game with a rib contusion. …
Relive the top plays from the Jaguars Thursday Night Football win over the Tennessee Titans.