Titans Make Statement, Pound Jags 36-22

Posted at 5:37 AM, Oct 28, 2016

The Titans have been the worst team in the NFL the last two years, but not anymore. 

Yes, the Jaguars are a bad team, but the Titans haven't always been able to beat bad teams, and Thursday night's 36-23 victory on national TV wasn't as close as the score appears. 

In a matchup of franchises that have split meetings every year dating back to 2009, Tennessee dominated this contest from the start. The offense racked up 27 points on a NFL season-high 354 yards while the defense pitched a shutout in the first half en-route to the teams' first AFC South division win of the year. 

"We kind of took the life out of them," Titans linebacker Avery Williamson said. 

It was a performance we haven't seen from a Titans' team in quite a while. The last time they played this well at home was a 38-13 victory over the Jets in 2013. This was a complete team effort as the offense and defense complimented each other perfectly to overwhelm a Jaguars team that played about as bad as they looked in their monochromatic, spicy brown mustard Color Rush uniforms. 

Marcus Mariota threw for 270 yards and two touchdowns, rebounding along with the rest of the team from a disappointing performance in Sunday's loss to the Colts.

Mariota's 36-yard touchdown pass to Kendall Wright on the first play of the second quarter started the offensive onslaught. The Titans scored 24 points in four drives, capped by a 90-yard drive that ended in a short Ryan Succop field goal at halftime. 

"I'd say that's about as good as we can do," said tight end Delanie Walker, who had four catches for 75 yards in the game. 
Meanwhile, the defense forced Jacksonville to punt on all five of its first half possessions, and allowed just one touchdown before garbage time in the fourth quarter. 

The win moves the Titans into a tie in the win column with the first place Texans in the AFC South. It also gives them four wins, besting last year's season win total in just the first eight weeks of the season. 

"Guys are tired of losing, and are doing everything they can to try to change that," left tackle Taylor Lewan said. 

There's no question this is a different Titans' team. October wins over the Dolphins, Browns and Jaguars have been far from guarantees in recent years, but are wins you have to have to be a playoff contender. 

Halfway through the season, the Titans have proven they will beat up on bad teams. We're still yet to see if they can breakthrough and start beating good teams. 

But that opportunity now awaits in the second half of the season with games against the Packers, Broncos, Chiefs and Texans remaining. Those are the games the Titans will have to start winning to become a true contender. 

Perhaps the greatest testament to this team's new attitude came when star running back DeMarco Murray was asked what the team's 4-4 record meant after the struggles of the past few seasons. 

"I think we have goals of being better than .500," said Murray, who ran for 123 yards on 21 carries, topping the 100-yard mark for the fourth time in the last six games. 

Sitting at 4-4 at the end of October for the first time in five seasons, Murray and the rest of the Titans can finally set their sights higher. 

They are no longer a bad team; they will play meaningful football games in the second half of the season. 

And that's where we will figure out just how good they actually are.