It was a valiant effort today by a young Jacksonville Jaguars team that couldn’t hang on in its week two matchup versus the Tennessee Titans, ultimately falling short 33-30 on the road in Nashville.
“We did some good things. But at the end of the day, we fell short.” Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said in his post-game press conference opener.
That would be the theme of the day for the Jaguars, who allowed the Titans to get off to a quick 14-0 lead, seemingly in store for yet another one of those games in Nashville. While the Jaguars did start slow, the offense certainly finished fast.
On the day, Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II completed 30 out of 45 of his passes for 339 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, proving incredibly efficient during the second half of the game, completing 16 out of 21 of his passes for 149 yards two touchdowns and one interception.
Rookie running back James Robinson would join in for the team’s offense, adding 100 rushing yards on 15 carries and the first touchdown of his career.
#Jaguars RB James Robinson’s first career TD. Excellent vision and balance. pic.twitter.com/jjyWHVRvOs— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) September 20, 2020
The Jaguars would end the game with 480 yards of net offense with the Titans lagging behind with 354 net yards, a positive to take away from the game, and a testament to how well the team’s offense performed through adversity.
Minshew’s first interception would come early in the game on a ball that was intended for tight end James O’Shaughnessy. While the throw was well-intended, rookie receiver Collin Johnson was in the area, ultimately jumping up to make a play, tipping the football right into the hands of Titans rookie cornerback Kristian Fulton.
“I don’t blame Collin at all,” Minshew said post game when asked about the interception. “He went up, he’s trying to make a play. It was just super unlucky. Felt good with the ball, felt good with the decision. It’s one of those deals sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce your way.”
A young team, the Jaguars would never give up, however. Marrone doesn’t question his team’s makeup, ability to keep pushing.
“I never question that from this team. I really don’t,” said Marrone. “You know, the unselfishness that they have, it just doesn’t matter. They’re trying to celebrate with each other and trying to get somebody to make a play every time. Like I said, we’ve got to just clean a couple things up and on a quick turnaround. “
What the team needed to clean up was evident in the first half of the game in which the Jaguars failed to stop the Titans for the majority of the day.
In the first half against the Jaguars’ defense, Titans’ quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed 12 of 14 of his passes for 172 yards and three touchdowns, something that was caused thanks to a combination of a lack of pass rush by the Jaguars’ defense and their, perhaps over-reliance in stopping the run, Jaguars defensive tackle Abry Jones said following the game.
The Jaguars netted just one sack on that day that would come from rookie first-round pick K’Lavon Chaisson, his first career sack.
“As far as the pressure on Tannehill, I think we just got to do better getting off the play-action blocks and things like that,” said Jones. “I think this game we was probably a little locked in a little bit too into the run, kind of bared our eyes and kind of worked out late to work against the pass. But I think that’s just how it is with every game. I think moving forward we’re going to try to focus on that more because I really think that was a real big part of the game.
“I think our DBs do a good job but we just can’t leave them out there covering for about six to ten seconds, so we’ve got to do a better job getting off those blocks.”
The Titans entered halftime with a 24-10 lead off the heels of a end-of-half kicking blunder that led to the Titans’ final field goal of the half with just 12 seconds remaining.
Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo kicked what appeared to be an attempt at a squib kick, what Marrone called post game a “power kick” to get in between the Titans special teamers. A blunder that was simply a mistake on execution ultimately gave the Titans a free three points.
“I mean, (Lambo’s) a guy that works his butt off,” said Marrone. “And we have confidence in him. And it’s just one of those things that it just wasn’t executed.”
While the team’s defense did struggle early, giving up 24 first-half points, the Jaguars held the Titans to just nine points (one touchdown, one field goal) in the second half, allowing the offense to rally back.
Much of that was thanks in part to the team’s resilience against the Titans’ rushing attack, specifically running back Derrick Henry who was able to muster just 84 yards on 25 carries (3.4 yards-per-carry) with a long of 15 yards.
“It’s one of those things that we know, that’s something we built for a while,” Minshew said following the game when asked about the team’s resiliency late in the game. “I think we - anytime we get into situations, we don’t hit panic mode, we don’t start pointing fingers. We’re just gonna try to step up, do our job and support the team as best we can. And I feel like we did a lot of that on both sides of the ball today.”
While down 30-23, the Jaguars needed a late-game touchdown with just 7:29 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Jaguars, and Minshew, would drive the ball nine plays for 86 yards and ultimately score on a beautiful 14-yard touchdown pass from Minshew to running back Chris Thompson on a running back wheel route with pressure breathing down the quarterback’s neck.
All tied up after this @ChrisThompson_4 touchdown‼— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) September 20, 2020
: CBS | #DUUUVAL pic.twitter.com/FSl7KQFaW4
“I had a good matchup with him on a linebacker,” said Minshew of the touchdown throw to Thompson, “and that’s that’s a match that we expect to win. Anytime we get Chris on linebacker.”
The team’s late-game rally proved too little, too late, however. The Jaguars would give the ball back to the Titans with just over three minutes remaining in the game, allowing the team to go down to score a game-winning field goal.
Controversy would occur on the drive as linebacker Myles Jack was called for what the Jaguars’ defense felt was a phantom pass interference call. The play occurred on a on third-and-five on the Jaguars’ own 44-yard-line with 1:57 remaining in the game.
“I mean, a lot of us don’t believe that that was really a pass interference,” Jones said when asked about the interference call. “But you know, [the] ref is going to make his call.”
The Jaguars would hold the Titans to a field goal, however, the interference set up Tennessee perfectly, allowing Titans kicker Stephen Gostkowski to nail a 49-yarder with just one possession ultimately remaining for the Jaguars.
Minshew and the team’s offense began the drive well with gains of 11 and 9 yards, however on a second-and-1 with 51 seconds remaining in the game, Minshew would throw a pass that was tipped up in the air by Titans defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, and ultimately intercepted by linebacker Harold Landry, ending the cardiac cats’ final attempt to secure a victory.
The Jaguars will have a short week in front of them with the Miami Dolphins coming to town for a Thursday Night matchup. The team, Marrone says, will have to get to work quickly on its gameplan.
Ultimately, the Jaguars fell short in what could have been a great comeback to begin to end week two.
- Jaguars center Brandon Linder (knee) left the game as questionable and did not return.
- Jaguars nickel cornerback DJ Hayden left game game after being evaluated for a concussion and did not return.