By Karen Christensen // @ksc47
Titans 15 – Jacksonville 10
Division rivals Jacksonville Jaguars were not gonna make it easy for the Tennessee Titans. The Jags were already in the playoffs, but they still played their first line players and were going all out against the Titans at freezing Nissan Stadium in Nashville on the last day of 2017. The Titans have lost three games in a row and this was their last chance to survive and get into the playoffs. They succeeded and made it in. It was another “ugly” win for Tennessee. It was another low scoring, not the most exciting game. The end result is that the Titans are in the playoffs for the first time since 2008 is beyond exciting.
The only touchdown that the Jacksonville Jaguars were able to score was at the beginning of the fourth quarter when running back Derrick Henry and quarterback Marcus Mariota had a miscommunication and ran into each other; the ball popped up in the air and was picked up by Jags defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. A bit of a disaster and an embarrassment to Derrick Henry who was the featured RB for the Titans as the number one running back DeMarco Murray was out from a knee injury. The Titans defense had held the Jaguar offense scoring to only three points before the Jags defense scored their one touchdown off of a Titan mistake.
Henry’s game was not all bad luck; he had a big 66 yard run in the second quarter after catching a screen pass which he ran in for a touchdown. Henry carried the ball 28 times for 51 yards. After the game he stated that he was not happy with his play, he felt that he had played “soft”. He will be the featured back again this week as Murray has been ruled out for the Chiefs game. He may be disappointed in his performance last week, but Henry should be proud of the fact that per Next Gen Stats he is the third fastest running back this season, reaching speeds of 21.64 MPH.
Derrick Henry with a 66-yard touchdown pic.twitter.com/5pHQyqpj4o
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 31, 2017
Other notable moments from the December 31 game against the Jags: Safety Kevin Byard had two interceptions. The second interception sealing the Titans win and getting the team into the playoffs. Byard has now been named First Team All-Pro by the Associated Press and has twice been named the Defensive Player of the week in 2017. Byard has not been able to get into the end zone with his picks, but he has a goal of getting that pick six during the playoffs. Kicker Ryan Succop kicked three field goals, the Titans sacked the Jaguars’ QB Blake Bortles twice and rookie cornerback Adoree Jackson forced a fumble that was recovered by Jayon Brown.
Much loved quarterback Mariota had his notable moment at the end of the fourth quarter with a little over two minutes left to play. Mariota had a thirteen-yard run where he stiff-armed Jaguar safety Barry Church (Church hit the ground) and then Mariota gave Church the stare down. Take that Jags, we’re going to the playoffs. Boom!
— NFL (@NFL) January 1, 2018
The Titans ended the regular season with a record of 9-7, and a 5-1 record in the AFC South, with the one loss to the Houston Texans. The last time that the Titans were in the playoffs was in 2008. According to NFL.com, the Titans had a 1.9 percent chance to win Super Bowl 52.
Talk Playoffs with Karen on Twitter @ksc47