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Win, or wait another year


It is their last chance this season to rid themselves of the Tennessee curse.

The last time the Jaguars beat the Titans, they were the Tennessee Oilers and they were playing in Vanderbilt Stadium. That was Sept. 27, 1998, and Fred Taylor was a rookie running back making his first professional start.

Since then, the Jaguars have lost five straight to the Titans. Of course, the Jaguars lost three to the Titans last season, the final of which was in the AFC title game on Jan. 23 of this year, when the Titans rallied from a 14-10 halftime deficit to win 33-14 in Jacksonville.

It sent the Titans to Atlanta where, at a Super Bowl press conference, coach Jeff Fisher rubbed salt in the Jaguars' wounds by snidely referring to Alltel Stadium as one of the Titans' home stadiums.

The Jaguars' record against the Titans has left the Jags defenseless. On Oct. 16 of this season, they suffered, yet, another loss to the Titans, 27-13, when the Jaguars weren't able to score a touchdown until the final moments of the game.

"It's past time," wide receiver Jimmy Smith said of beating the Titans. "We're as healthy as we're going to be this year. This is our best chance to beat these guys," he added of this Sunday's 4:15 p.m. kickoff at Alltel Stadium.

The Titans are 9-2 and coasting toward the AFC Central Division title and playoffs homefield advantage. Last year, Jacksonville was in that same envious position. Now, the Jaguars are playing strictly for pride, against a team that has stripped them of it.

"Just need to win it. There's no significance other than that. Just to show people we can put it on them," Taylor said of the importance of this Sunday's game.

Taylor embodies the Jaguars' best hope of victory. He will be attempting to complete a sixth consecutive 100-yard rushing performance. He is the hottest back in the league, coming off a 234-yard effort against no less a defense than the Pittsburgh Steelers. Sunday, Taylor will be pitted against Titans star runner Eddie George.

"He's a power runner. He doesn't have many moves. He just likes to get north and south," Taylor said of George.

Taylor is considered to be a cut-back runner, but he bristles playfully at the tag.

"I'm not a cut-back runner. I'm a take-whatever-you-give-me runner. I don't go out just looking for the cut-backs. That's the label I'm getting. I don't like that. I can take it out the front door if you give me that look. I'm a pure runner. That sounds better," Taylor said.

What would sound best for Taylor and the Jaguars is the cry of victory against their chief tormentors.

"It's a physical game. It's a game in which their defense is very aggressive. They're going to run the ball. You know exactly what their thinking is. You have to be a physical team. In this division, that's the way it is. That's what we've talked about all week, and that's what our intentions are," coach Tom Coughlin said following today's practice.

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