Final

Jaguars 17

(8-6, 2-5 away)

Titans 24

(7-7, 4-3 home)

Coverage: CBS

1:00 PM ET, December 17, 2006

LP Field, Nashville, TN 

1 2 3 4 T
JAX 7 3 0 717
TEN 7 0 17 024

Top Performers

Passing: D. Garrard (JAX) - 233 YDS, 1 TD, 3 INT

Rushing: M. Jones-Drew (JAX) - 25 CAR, 98 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: R. Williams (JAX) - 4 REC, 88 YDS

Hot Titans turn to defense to pull out win over Jags

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Tennessee Titans found three more ways to keep their magical ride alive.

The 24 points in 10 minutes to beat the New York Giants? Stunning. A 60-yard field goal to beat Indianapolis? Historical. Vince Young's 39-yard touchdown run in overtime at Houston? Impressive.

Scouts Inc.'s take ...
Four turnovers proved to be just too costly for Jacksonville. With the Jaguars outgaining the Titans in every offensive category, three interceptions thrown by David Garrard (above), two of which were returned for touchdowns, plus a Jaguars fumble that was returned 92 yards for a touchdown were the difference.

Rather than rely on their superior run game, the Jaguars appeared to panic and tried to get back into the game by gambling on the long-passing game. Jeff Fisher and the Titans remained calm and did not try to stray from their game plan, which was to avoid turnovers and do just enough to score some points.

On Sunday, Young and the offense couldn't move the ball against the Jaguars. So the Titans' defense beat up David Garrard and returned turnovers 83, 92 and 61 yards for touchdowns and beat Jacksonville 24-17 for their fifth straight victory.

Credit a franchise-record three defensive TDs and a team-record 370 yards of returns.

"I was just thinking, 'Don't get caught,'" rookie Cortland Finnegan said of his 92-yard fumble return for a TD. "I just wanted to get in the end zone and put some points up on the board. You run faster when a play like that happens, and then you find out how winded you are at the end. It was a fun thing."

Adam "Pacman" Jones returned an interception 83 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead. Then the Titans broke open a 10-10 game in the third quarter despite the Jaguars running 32 consecutive offensive plays -- not counting a penalty that nullified a 33rd.

Finnegan picked up Garrard's fumble and returned it for the go-ahead TD with 4:51 left in the third period. Six plays later, safety Chris Hope picked off a pass and ran 61 yards up the left sideline for a 24-10 lead.

"To have to play that number of plays against them consecutively, I've got to take my hat off to our defensive guys," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. "A valiant effort to be on the field that long, and you've got to give the defense credit for this win."

Elias Says
Vince Young
Young
The Titans' win was their seventh with Vince Young starting at quarterback. During the 40 years since the first common draft by NFL and AFL teams, that's the highest victory total by a player who was the first QB chosen in his respective draft year. The previous record was held by Jim Plunkett, the first overall pick in 1971, who posted a 6-8 mark starting for the Patriots.

The fine print: We consider the first quarterback chosen in the 1988 draft to be Tom Tupa of Ohio State, who played some QB during the early years of a long career as an NFL punter. The Cardinals labeled Tupa a "punter" on draft day. But Tupa was called a "QB-punter" when he signed in July. He threw six passes in his rookie season, and he started a total of 13 games as a QB over the following three seasons. All this matters because the second QB chosen in 1988 was Chris Chandler, who won nine games as a rookie -- that is, two more than Vince Young.

• For more Elias Says, Click here.

Tennessee (7-7) won for the seventh time in nine games, keeping its faint playoff hopes alive. The Titans' defense was on the field for 82 plays over 44 minutes, 22 seconds, but had five sacks and forced four turnovers.

With Jacksonville (8-6) losing, Indianapolis clinched the AFC South title the Colts couldn't grab last week when they were routed 44-17 by the Jaguars. Coach Jack Del Rio said his team played well except for the turnovers.

"It's the great neutralizer. You can't lose a turnover battle like that, and you can't have those turnovers returned for touchdowns," Del Rio said.

Jacksonville pulled within 24-17 on Garrard's 3-yard TD toss to Matt Jones with 2:37 to go, and the Jaguars tried an onside kick. Stephen Tulloch recovered for Tennessee, but the Titans had to punt it back with 61 seconds left.

Three plays later, Reynaldo Hill picked off Garrard's pass to seal the victory.

"I have never been a part of a day quite like this; I don't even know if I have seen a day quite like this ...," Garrard said. "It is upsetting, and I definitely have a horrible taste in my mouth."

The Jaguars came in with the NFL's fifth-stingiest defense, and they did their job in trying to protect a one-game lead in the wild-card chase. The Titans had the ball for only 96 seconds in the third quarter and 15:38 overall and finished with a season-low 98 yards of offense.

But it was Tennessee's defense, statistically the worst in the league allowing 364.4 yards per game, that made the biggest plays. The weary Titans even kept the Jaguars out of the end zone despite Jacksonville having first-and-goal at the Tennessee 6 midway through the fourth quarter.

A review wiped out a bobbled 1-yard TD catch by Marcedes Lewis. Then the Titans stopped Maurice Drew on third down at the 1, and Adam Jones broke up a fourth-down pass to Matt Jones in the end zone, drawing a standing ovation from the cheering fans.

"They did all that work for nothing pretty much," Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck said. "It's demoralizing to a team [to] drive down 80 yards, about to punch it in and you're doing everything right on offense. You're doing everything right but scoring. That's got to be tough."

Then Young and an offense that picked up three first downs through three quarters ran off three minutes to give the defense its best rest since halftime.

The Jaguars rolled up 396 yards despite losing running back Fred Taylor to a strained right hamstring on his second carry. Rookie Drew scored his 13th TD this season on a 12-yard run in the first quarter and finished with 98 yards. He left the game in the fourth quarter with a left leg injury.

A bad omen may have been Taylor pulling up lame when he could have scored. Three plays later, Adam Jones stepped in front of a pass for Williams and ran it back for a 7-0 lead in the first quarter for a 14-point swing.

Game notes


The Jaguars missed a chance to even this series, and the Titans now lead 13-11, not counting playoffs. ... Young tied Dan Marino and Kerry Collins for most wins by a rookie quarterback since 1970 and is now 7-4 despite completing only eight passes Sunday. ... The Titans finished 4-2 in the AFC South. ... It was Jones' fourth interception this season, but his first returned for a touchdown. It was the fourth TD of his career.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
Jacksonville
Tennessee
1st Downs235
3rd down efficiency
10-190-8
4th down efficiency
0-20-1
Total Yards39698
Yards per play4.82.9
Total Drives30
Passing20357
Comp-Att
22-378-15
Yards per pass
5.53.8
Interceptions thrown
30
Sacks-Yards Lost
4-303-28
Rushing19341
Rushing Attempts
4116
Yards per rush
4.72.6
Penalties2-254-40
Turnovers40
Fumbles lost
10
Interceptions thrown
30
Possession44:2215:38

Passing Leaders

JAXC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Garrard22/372336.3134-30
TENC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Young8/15855.7003-28

Rushing Leaders

JAXCARYDSAVGTDLG
Jones-Drew25983.9117
Garrard6437.2020
TENCARYDSAVGTDLG
Henry12373.1016
Young441.008

Receiving Leaders

JAXRECYDSAVGTDLG
Williams48822.0035
Jones-Drew34715.7037
TENRECYDSAVGTDLG
Wade34816.0022
Jones11414.0014

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERJAXTEN
TD6:00Adam Jones 83 Yd Interception Return (Rob Bironas Kick) 07
TD11:57Maurice Jones-Drew 12 Yd Run (Josh Scobee Kick)
Drive: 10 plays, 67 yds, 5:57
77
SECOND QUARTERJAXTEN
FG3:38Josh Scobee 43 Yd
Drive: 9 plays, 42 yds, 5:07
107
THIRD QUARTERJAXTEN
FG1:36Rob Bironas 27 Yd
Drive: 4 plays, 5 yds, 1:36
1010
TD10:09Cortland Finnegan 92 Yd Fumble Return (Rob Bironas Kick) 1017
TD13:52Chris Hope 61 Yd Interception Return (Rob Bironas Kick) 1024
FOURTH QUARTERJAXTEN
TD12:24Matt Jones 3 Yd Pass From David Garrard (Josh Scobee Kick)
Drive: 5 plays, 59 yds, 1:44
1724