While most Titans players said that they had no extra motivation this week heading into Sunday's game in Jacksonville, Brian Orakpo had no problems sharing his true feelings.
"We owed them," the Pro Bowl linebacker said. "They took food off my table last year, so we definitely owed them, I don't care what anybody else says. This is a tough place to play, Duval County or whatever they call it, it's a tough place to play but we wanted to make sure we came out with the right intensity, right focus and take care of what's in front of us and that was them."
The Titans came to Jacksonville on Christmas Eve a year ago winners of three in a row and still in contention to win the AFC South. But then Marcus Mariota suffered a broken leg in the third quarter and the Titans watched their playoff hopes get dashed with a surprising loss.
Still, most Titans' players said that was far from a big factor going into Sunday's 37-16 win.
"Maybe a little bit in the back of your mind," linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. "But we mainly wanted to come in here and win a game on the road and win our first division game."
HAPPY HOMECOMING FOR HENRY
Derrick Henry was a star high school football player in Jacksonville and Sunday he enjoyed a happy homecoming in his hometown, rushing for a game high 92 yards on 14 carries.
His 17-yard run in the third quarter was the first touchdown of the game on either side and it helped the Titans build a 16-3 lead.
Henry was used as the Titans' workhorse back in the second half after DeMarco Murray was sidelined with a hamstring pull, and he made the most of his opportunity.
"I'm just happy we got the team win," Henry said at his locker after the game. "Forget my performance and what I did. The offensive line, just everybody who blocked, helped me every chance I got today, but it's the team win that's the big thing."
TIGHT ENDS LEAVE THEIR MARK
Of the Titans four second half touchdowns, two of them came courtesy of tight ends. But they came in unconventional fashion.
First came a quick handoff to Delanie Walker to give the Titans a 23-3 lead late in the third quarter. The two-time Pro Bowler motioned on the play and received the handoff and practically walked into the end zone.
It was the first career rushing touchdown for Walker.
"I think that was probably the easiest touchdown of my career," Walker said.
The second touchdown came early in the fourth quarter on a beautifully designed screen pass designed for rookie Jonnu Smith.
A third round pick by the Titans last spring, Smith caught the ball on the right hash behind a convoy of blockers and ran virtually untouched for a 32-yard touchdown, the first of his career.
"That was a big play, obviously, by Jonnu," Titans head coach Mike Mularkey said. "The play set up great. It was a great play call by Terry Robiskie and just the way it unfolded there was nobody over there for our guys to block."
ROOKIES MAKE AN IMPACT
Besides Smith, two other rookies played prominent roles in Sunday's victory. Cornerback Adoree' Jackson and wide receiver Taywan Taylor made big plays as the Titans pulled away.
Jackson, the 18th overall pick in April's draft, fielded a punt at his own 20 with the Titans leading 9-3 in the third quarter and delivered an electrifying 46-yard punt return giving the offense a short field ahead of the game's first touchdown.
"They put me back on punt return, kick return just to get a spark and make something happen," Jackson said on his mindset after the game. "I'm thankful to make a return that led to a score. I just try to make plays when I get out there."
Taylor made his mark on the Titans' next offensive possession, running a simple go route down the sideline and making a diving 42-yard catch at the Jaguars' seven.
The Titans scored two plays later to take a 23-3 lead, and Taylor was happy to contribute to what became his first NFL win.
"Got that taste out of our mouth from last week, coming down here on the road," Taylor said. "And it matters a lot because it's a division game, so we wanted to come down here and take care of business."