NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Tennessee Titans found three more
ways to keep their magical ride alive.
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
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
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.
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.
The Titans are making it a priority for Marcus Mariota to create defensive hesitation with the way he sells play-action.
First Take's Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith express their dissatisfaction with Cowboys QB Tony Romo's performance against the Panthers before he was injured.
NFL Insider Field looks at the bleak future in Dallas and explains how both the team didn't endanger Tony Romo in his returning to the lineup before reinjuring his clavicle.
Matt Cassel was 0-4 in the starting role after Tony Romo's first injury this season, and it appears he'll get a chance to reprise the role for Dallas.
Packers receiver Davante Adams finished with just two receptions for 14 yards, despite being targeted 11 times against the Bears.
St. Louis' rookie running back is second among running backs and 10th overall in fan voting for the NFL's all-star game, the only Ram among leaders.