Titans Produce Six Straight Scoring Drives in 36-22 win over Jacksonville
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee had a short week to prepare for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and after a debilitating 34-26 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in week 7, a short week was more than welcomed.
Donning an all Titan blue look, one that seemed unanimously more appealing than that of their opponents "mustard yellow" uniforms, the Titans truly did light up Thursday night with an impressive 36-22 victory.
“I’m proud of our guys, very proud,’’ said Titans coach Mike Mularkey. “I’m proud of the way they do things. We wanted to win this quarter, that was important, and we had a home stint. We let one get away (against Indianapolis) and it was important to come back.
"I'm very happy with the way these guys came out on a short week. They had a good week of preparation and it carried over into the game again."
Quarterback Marcus Mariota continued his great play as of late, as the second-year man went 18-of-22 passing for 270 yards and 2 touchdowns. Mariota put his team in a good enough position to allow his backup, veteran Matt Cassel, to play most the 4th quarter.
Over the past four games, Mariota has thrown for 949 yards, 10 touchdowns and just one interception.
Mariota's counterpart, Blake Bortles, had a night that looked good on the stat sheet, but in reality, was one that led to questions on whether the third-year man should be benched.
Bortles passed for 337 yards and 3 touchdowns on Thursday. All three Jacksonville's scores came in the second half after Tennessee had taken their foot off the gas and entered a "prevent" style of defense.
Jacksonville's first 5 possessions ended in a punt, with three coming via a three-and-out.
The Titans entered halftime Thursday with their largest lead of the season, as the now 4-4 squad held a commanding 27-0 advantage. After punting on their opening possession, the Titans would go on six consecutive scoring drives.
"We built kind of a rhythm," said Mariota on the consecutive scoring drives. "I thought we ran the ball well. We were able to make some 3rd downs which gave us an opportunity to continue those drives. That's the goal every week, to score on every drive."
A Ryan Succop field goal put Tennessee on the board with 3:31 left in the 1st quarter.
Tennessee's next drive was a quick one, as the Titans marched 66 yards on 4 plays for their first touchdown of the day. Mariota hit Kendall Wright on a perfect 36-yard pass in the back of the end zone.
The rushing attack was key for Tennessee on Thursday, as the team totaled 214 yards on the ground. DeMarco Murray picked up his fourth 100+ yard game in the last six weeks, running for 123 yards and a score.
Murray's touchdown came one play after tight end Phillip had a 45-yard touchdown catch be called back after replay-review showed he stepped out at the 15. Murray originally ran towards the right tackle, but cut back and ran across field, eventually scoring at the left pylon.
Murray pushed his total on the season to 756 yards on the season. Through 8 games, Murray already has 54 more yards than he did last season with Philadelphia. Murray also has 160 carries through the halfway point, 33 less than he had in 15 games in 2015.
Rookie Derrick Henry found the end zone for the first time in his professional career Thursday, as his 6-yard scamper put Tennessee up 17-0 in the 2nd quarter.
“It felt good,’’ said Henry on his first score. “It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Henry finished the day with a season high 16 carries and another season high in yards, 60. The rookie also made 4 receptions for 37 yards.
Thursday's 2nd quarter was the highest scoring quarter for Tennessee all season, as the Titans put up 24 points.
Jacksonville started the second half with a 75-yard drive, culminating with Bortles finding tight-end Julius Thomas for a 10-yard score. Bortles would score on a two-point conversion after running on a quarterback draw.
The Jaguars would add another score with 3:11 left in regulation, as Bortles connected with Allen Hurns from 5-yards out. Bortles would find Brian Walters on the last play from scrimmage for a 7-yard touchdown.
Hurns led all players in receiving Thursday, bringing in 7 receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown. Allen Robinson made 6 catches for 70 yards.
Receiver Rishard Matthews caught his third touchdown of the year, a 4-yard score on Tennessee's first drive of the second half.
Special teams had been an area as of late where Tennessee had been disastrous. The Titans looked to have improved in that category Thursday. Kicker Ryan Succop went 3-for-3 on field goals, but he did miss an extra point. Rookie LeShaun Sims recovered a muffed punt by Jaguars' return man Marqise Lee.
Defensively, Tennessee failed to force Bortles to turn the ball over, but the team did record 2 sacks in the win. Avery Williamson recorded a sack, and Derrick Morgan picked up a sack for the fourth consecutive game.
Tennessee's offensive line did not allow Mariota to be sacked once. Left guard Quintin Spain injured his knee in the loss to Indianapolis, forcing Brian Schwenke to start in his place.
"They did a great job," Mariota said of his offensive line. "They handled the blitzes up front. Those guys did an awesome job establishing the line of scrimmage in the run game.
"Those guys deserve a lot of credit. They played really well tonight."
Left-tackle Taylor Lewan, one week after recording his first career touchdown, had to be removed for a play by Mularkey after an unnecessary roughness penalty. The personal foul was Lewan's second of the season, and both have occurred in the red zone.
Houston currently sits atop the AFC South with a record of 4-3, but a loss Sunday against the Detroit Lions would place Tennessee in a tie for first place in the division.
Tennessee will travel to San Diego in week 9 to take on the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers will face the reigning Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos on Sunday.
All information provided via www.titansonline.com and espn.com. Stats provided via www.pro-football-reference.com.