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Patient Titans Pound Jags Into Submission In 37-16 Win

Posted at 8:32 PM, Sep 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-17 21:45:31-04

It took the Titans more than a half to break through Sunday, but when they did they sucked the life out of a Jaguars team that entered the day full of confidence and established themselves as the early favorite in the AFC South with a 37-16 win. 

With the Titans losing in week one and the Jags' winning in Houston, this became a pivotal early season swing game, with the potential of a loss dropping Tennessee two games back of Jacksonville in the division race already. 

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It was a struggle early on as the Titans went three and out on the opening possession then allowed the Jaguars to drive 51 yard in 12 plays for a field goal. But they stayed patient, stuck with their gameplan and good things followed. 

"You got to be patient, it's a good football team over there," Titans head coach Mike Mularkey said. "We knew it was going to be a knock down, drag out type of fight. We knew that from the beginning and we stuck with the plan."

The defense led the charge, buckling down after that opening possession to not allow a single point on the Jaguars' next eight possessions. 

They forced consecutive three and outs, three straight turnovers and then three more points as they grabbed control of the game. 

"I think we just settled in," linebacker Derrick Morgan said. "Guys weren't trying to do too much, we were just in our gaps playing assignment football. When you have 11 guys on the same page that's the result."

The tide really turned with a pair of interceptions around halftime. First, with the Jags' driving, Avery Williamson tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage and newly-activated Curtis Riley grabbed his first career interception. The Titans capitalized on that with a 41-yard Ryan Succop field goal on the final play of the half to take a 6-3 lead into the locker room. 

Then they started the third quarter with a Da'Norris Searcy interception at midfield that set up another field goal drive as the Titans seized control. 

"That's what we need, when one side is struggling the other side has to pick it up and that's what we did," said linebacker Brian Orakpo. "And once our offense got going, they're impossible to stop."

With the lead and their defense dominating, the Titans' offense finally found a groove. After scoring just six points in the first half, they piled up 31 points on their first five second half possessions. 

They followed up the field goal to start the half with four straight touchdown drives, including a back-breaking 86-yard March early in the fourth quarter. 

"We knew it was going to be tough, they've got a great defense," said quarterback Marcus Mariota, who finished the day 15-27 for 215 yards and a touchdown and an interception. "We knew we just had to keep chugging along and we knew we could make some plays when it came around. I'm proud of the guys."

Derrick Henry led the charge with 92 carries on just 14 carries, including a bulldozing 17-yard run for the game's first touchdown in the third quarter. 

The Titans stuck with their run game, pounding the Jaguars over and over in the second half on a steamy September day. Eventually, they pounded them into submission. 

"We just started hitting, we started tiring them out," right tackle Jack Conklin said. "That's the smashmouth football we want to be known for."

It's the Titans first win in Jacksonville since 2013 and it's payback for a Christmas Eve loss in which the Titans lost Mariota to a broken leg and saw their playoff hopes dashed. 

It also snaps a streak of 11 consecutive road losses against AFC South opponents, but most importantly gives them a road win to start division play this year in what they believe can be a championship season. 

"It's important to win a division game," Mularkey said. "You have to win (them) and you have to win on the road to get to where we want to go."