NASHVILLE, Tenn. – That old Tennessee feeling.
The Jaguars got it again in a big way Thursday night – and as usual, the feeling wasn’t good.
Tennessee Titans 30, Jaguars 9.
Same feeling – though this one perhaps felt a bit worse than usual.
“Sad,” cornerback Jalen Ramsey called it after Jaguars fell behind 16-2 at halftime and 30-2 midway through the third quarter in a nationally-televised game at Nissan Stadium.
Ramsey was asked why he called it that.
“We got our ass beat – what did it look like?” he said, forcing a smile.
Safety Tashaun Gipson agreed.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Demoralizing … any type of word that can explain the frustration … We said, ‘Hey, man, this is our national-televised game.’ That was spoken so much this week. For us to go out there and play like this with the world watching …
“I doubt people were watching past halftime, to be honest with you.”
“To go out and play like that, it’s tough – and it’s frustrating,” Gipson said. “I don’t have the answers. I don’t think anybody has the answers. I don’t think the coaches have the answer. I truly don’t know.”
The Jaguars, four days after an uplifting 6-0 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, on Thursday missed a chance to win a second consecutive game to start December. They have lost eight of nine games.
This one came in unusually one-sided fashion. The Jaguars not only never led, they allowed Titans running back Derrick Henry to set a franchise record for rushing yards – this just four days after the Jaguars’ best defensive game of the season.
“Teams that go on the road come out slow usually,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “It is what it is. We tried to overcome it. Things didn’t go our way.”
Not that a victory Thursday would have “saved” or “salvaged” anything so grand and glorious as a playoff appearance. No, that was far too distant to dream considering the Jaguars’ 4-8 record entering Thursday.
But the Jaguars throughout the seven-game losing streak spoke of pride and professionalism. If those words sounded like empty quotes then, they rang more true after beating Indianapolis.
They talked, too, of playing a spoiler role in December. They played that role against Indianapolis.
Four days later, they couldn’t do it again.
And they didn’t come close.
They didn’t come close because they couldn’t come close to stopping a Titans running game that had been just OK all season but was suddenly dominant. Henry, who has hurt the Jaguars often in his career, hurt them worse them he ever has before. Henry rushed for four touchdowns, easily scoring on two of them.
He also rushed for a 99-yard second-quarter touchdown that completely changed the game’s momentum. He didn’t score easily on that one. Instead, he stiff-armed his way past not only cornerback A.J. Bouye but linebackers Leon Jacobs and Myles Jack.
Henry finished with 238 yards rushing on 17 carries, a 14.0-yards-per carry average.
“You have to tip your hat to a guy who runs for that many yards,” Gipson said. “I’ve never been a part of nothing like that, a guy running like that. It was like little league out there. Everything he touched the ball, he was scoring it felt like.”
The nature of the loss, and the ease with which Henry ran at times, prompted questions in the post-game locker room of whether players had quit. Campbell rejected the suggestion.
“I seen guys chasing him, trying to make tackles,” Campbell said. “We just didn’t get it done.”
And while not stopping Henry was one problem for the Jaguars Thursday, it wasn’t the only problem.
The Jaguars’ beat-up offense, an increasing issue as the season has devolved, continued to stagnate – even with quarterback Cody Kessler looking a bit better and more aggressive in his second start than he did a week ago in his first.
Kessler indeed gave the Jaguars early life, looking sharp and confident in the first half and leading the Jaguars on a second-quarter drive inside the Titans 10.
That drive stalled when running back Leonard Fournette was stopped for a one-yard gain on 4th-and-goal from the 2, the Jaguars’ seventh consecutive offensive play from inside the Titans 7.
Henry’s 99-yarder came on the ensuing play.
Was the stretch of plays a microcosm of the season? Maybe, maybe not.
Whatever it was, it was the defining stretch of an ugly loss – the Jaguars’ fourth consecutive loss to the Titans and one that rivaled a 36-22 Thursday night loss in Nashville for one-sidedness and inexplicability.
“That was just a true drum,” Gipson called this year’s version.
Ramsey was asked afterward if he considered the performance embarrassing.
“Super … super,” he said. “Like I said, it was sad. Honestly.”
Yes, the Jaguars had that old Tennessee feeling Thursday.
And as usual, the feeling wasn’t good.