By Andrew Kahn
In a battle of 2-12 teams, Jacksonville overcame a slow start to earn a 21-13 win. It wasn’t a masterpiece—the Jaguars totaled just 288 yards—but it wasn’t sloppy either. The game featured no turnovers and just 10 combined penalties.
Jacksonville’s fast finish
Down 10-0 late in the first half, Jacksonville engineered an 11-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. With 31 seconds left, Blake Bortles threw a well-placed back shoulder fade to tight end Mercedes Lewis for a four-yard score. The Jags got the ball to start the second half and executed a similar drive, which included a first down on a double pass—Bortles threw it backwards to receiver Cecil Shorts III near the left sideline, and he threw near the right sideline to Jordan Todman. Toby Gerhart scored on a one-yard run to give Jacksonville a lead it would not relinquish.
Tennessee’s strong start
Tennessee, which has now lost nine straight, looked like the more engaged team early on. Charlie Whitehurst, starting because of injuries to Zach Mettenberger and Jake Locker, hit all six of his pass attempts on the opening drive, including an eight-yard touchdown. Kicker Ryan Succop made a 50-yard field goal to give the Titans a 10-0 cushion.
Can’t get off the ground
Part of the reason the Titans could not hold their lead was an ineffective rushing attack. For the tenth straight game, Tennessee did not crack 100 yards on the ground. Rookie Bishop Sankey, Shonn Greene, Leon Washington, and Whitehurst combined for 95 yards on 28 carries, good for just a 3.4 average. The longest of the night was an 11-yard gain. Whitehurst connected on 24 of 35 passes for 287 yards, but it wasn’t enough.
Show me the money
Sixth-year defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks did more than just preserve his team’s victory last night when he sacked Whitehurst on the game’s final play. He also earned himself a fat check, triggering a $600,000 bonus by surpassing eight sacks on the season. Marks, who spent his first four seasons in Tennessee, celebrated with a familiar gesture: “I had to do the Manziel,” Marks said after the game, according to ESPN.com. “I pointed to the press box to [Jaguars GM] Dave [Caldwell] and threw out the Manziel, so I thought that was pretty fun.” The Titans had the ball on the Jacksonville 35 and were trying to attempt a final heave into the end zone.
Losing to win
The loser of this game may have had more to gain, as the Titans became the first team to 13 losses, giving them the inside track for the No. 1 draft pick. They finish the season against the Colts. Oakland and Tampa Bay also have just two wins. Did Mettenberger show the Titans enough this season to dissuade them from taking a quarterback in the draft? Tampa Bay, for sure, will be after a QB. Unlike the NBA, the NFL does not have a lottery system for its draft picks.
Andrew Kahn is a regular contributor to CBS Local who also writes for Newsday and The Wall Street Journal. He writes about the NFL and other sports at AndrewJKahn.com. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn.