A game that was supposed to be a battle of rushing attacks and featured running backs never materialized. The Tennessee Titans had a very different game plan.
The Titans came out throwing, as starting quarterback Vince Young pitched completions of 28 and 23 yards in the opening drive of the game. The second of those passes gave the Titans a quick, 7-0 lead en route to an easy, 30-3 victory at EverBank Field on Monday Night Football.
What does it say that with the best player on the field in their backfield, the Titans elected to pass the football?
"We need to improve on the back end to make plays and get off the field," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said of his team's pass-defense, which has been ranked near the bottom of the league all season.
Young had to leave the game on the next series, when he sustained a knee injury while recovering a fumbled snap from center. Aged veteran Kerry Collins replaced Young and completed 11 of 16 passes for 110 yards, one touchdown and a 108.9 passer rating.
If those stats don't impress you, consider that the Titans were eight of 14 in third-down conversions, which allowed them to dominate time of possession by five-and-a-half minutes. Meanwhile, the Titans defense dominated the action, knocking starting quarterback David Garrard out of action late in the first half. Garrard sustained a concussion when his head struck the ground as he was being hit following a pass attempt.
"I'll have to lean on the doctors," Del Rio said when asked if Garrard can be expected to play in Kansas City on Sunday.
Garrard was replaced by newly-acquired Trent Edwards, who completed 14 of 24 passes for 140 yards, two interceptions and a 40.3 passer rating. The second of those interceptions was not Edwards' fault. It should've resulted in a touchdown pass but wide receiver Tiquan Edwards had the ball ripped from his grasp by defensive back Vincent Fuller.
"Not the night we were looking for. We turned it over four times. I thought we were ready to play much better football," Del Rio said.
The loss leaves the Jaguars at 3-3 and alone in last place in the AFC South, but just a game behind the other three teams. Where the Jaguars are in the standings, however, is not the issue for this team. They have been uncompetitive in the three games they've lost, which has tainted their wins and fueled a national perception that the Jaguars are not a playoff contender.
Wide receiver Mike Thomas enjoyed the team's only statistically-satisfying performance. He caught eight passes for 88 yards. Meanwhile, Maurice Jones-Drew was held to 57 yards on 17 carries, tight end Marcedes Lewis had a nightmarish night that included a drop on a critical third-down play and a fumble at the Titans' 10-yard line, and wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker disappeared again (two catches for 16 yards) following a break-back game in Buffalo the previous week.
There were nearly no highlights for the Jaguars. Even Josh Scobee's field goal was a disappointment, as it was the result of a 12-yard sack when the Jaguars were at the Titans' three-yard line.
"We don't have time to evaluate this one or hang our heads very long. I've already started thinking about Kansas City; they've got 24 hours on us," defensive end Aaron Kampman said.
The Jaguars will play twice on the road – at Dallas, too – before their bye week. They would seem to be at a crossroads in their season.