Jack Del Rio counted off the plays and circumstances that spelled doom for his team – Maurice Jones-Drew's fumble, a fumble return that was disallowed and Josh Scobee's mysterious leg injury – but it was an unthinkable inability to match up physically against the Tennessee Titans that was reason number one.
"We run it 18 times and they run it 49. There's usually a problem when it's like that," Del Rio said following a disheartening, 13-10 season-opening loss at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.
The Jaguars were dominated up front on both sides of the ball. The things the Jaguars did best a year ago, which is to say run the ball and stop the run, were what the Titans did to beat the Jaguars on the warmest kickoff-weekend game in Jaguars home-game history.
How bad was it? Well:
• Chris Brown rushed for 175 yards, as the Titans rolled up 282 yards rushing and a 5.8 yards-per-carry average to the Jaguars' 72 yards, which was made respectable only by quarterback David Garrard's 24 scramble yards.
• The bulk of the Titans' rushing yardage was right up the middle, long considered to be the strength of the Jaguars' defense.
• Tennessee was able to run out the clock with 2:46 left to play, pounding out two game-clinching first downs with six-yard runs by Lendale White.
"We'll look at the tape but it won't be fun. That's uncharacteristic of the football we play here. We have to get that fixed right away," Del Rio said.
The Jaguars coach was clearly dazed by the loss. He never expected to lose the line of scrimmage the way the Jaguars did.
Meanwhile, Garrard, the goat of the team's week 15 loss in Nashville last season, played well enough to keep the Jaguars in the lead for most of the game. Garrard gave the Jaguars a big, early boost with a 47-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver John Broussard.
Garrard continued his hot hand and would've given the Jaguars a 14-3 lead had wide receiver Matt Jones held onto a perfectly-thrown pass in the back of the end zone.
Early in the fourth quarter, Garrard drove the Jaguars from their 31-yard line to the Titans' 28. On second and 10, Garrard broke away from the rush and headed toward the right sideline, where he stopped and found Jones-Drew sitting open downfield. Jones-Drew caught the ball and advanced it to the Titans' eight-yard line, where it was kicked from the running back's grasp by tight end Marcedes Lewis.
Garrard would have two more chances to move his team to a score, but each resulted in a three-and-out. On one occasion, Garrard was victimized by a Dennis Northcutt drop along the sideline.
The day started poorly for the Jaguars when Scobee sustained a quad injury while kicking in pregame. Del Rio said it's likely the team will have to sign another kicker this week.
Scobee's injury left rookie punter Adam Podlesh to do the kickoff chores. Scobee was able to kick from short range – he booted a 22-yarder – but the Jaguars weren't able to attempt anything longer than 25 yards.
That presented a major problem in the third quarter when the Jaguars faced a fourth and 10 at the Titans 19-yard line. Normally, Scobee would come on for a 36-yard field goal attempt, but on this day the Jaguars were forced to play on. A shovel pass lost two yards and the Jaguars left three points on the field at a time when they led 10-6 in a game in which every point was precious.
"You end up losing by three. Obviously, that was a dramatic swing," Del Rio said of Scobee's injury and not being able to attempt a mid-range field goal.
All of that was easy to document, but what wasn't easy to explain or understand was the complete collapse of a proud run-defense. The question on everyone's lips was: What happened?
"Better team won. They played better. Tennessee wanted it more than the Jacksonville Jaguars," a somber Mike Peterson said after the game.
"When we broke down (against the run early), we let them get some momentum and stay on the field. We allowed some of that early, then late they just pounded us. We can't play like that and be any good on defense. We'll get it fixed. I promise you that," Del Rio said.
The Titans nearly held a 16-minute time of possession advantage. It didn't take long for the heat to take its toll on the Jaguars defense. By game's end, the Jaguars' tank was on empty.
"I know it's been said a lot, but if you can run it and stop the run, you have a pretty good chance of being successful," Del Rio said. "We're not going to have days like this. We took it on the chin today. We need to stay the course and fix the things that weren't so good today. We'll fix these things and be a good football team."