Jaguars finally win at home, beating Titans 24-19
- Article by: MARK LONG
- Associated Press
- November 26, 2012 - 3:59 AM
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville's locker room had a much different feel Sunday afternoon.
The sound system was thumping. Coach Mike Mularkey was chest-bumping everyone around. And players were downright giddy about getting two days off.
No doubt, winning provided some much-needed relief for the Jaguars.
Chad Henne threw two touchdown passes, sparking the NFL's worst offense for the second consecutive week, and the Jaguars beat the Tennessee Titans 24-19. Jacksonville (2-9) snapped a seven-game losing streak and was competitive at home for the first time in six games.
"It's good to have something good happen, really good," said Mularkey, who rewarded players by giving them Monday and Tuesday off. "They needed that. A lot of people needed that. It was well earned."
Henne was the key.
Making his first start in more than 13 months, Henne found Cecil Shorts III for a 59-yard touchdown in the third quarter and hooked up with rookie Justin Blackmon for a 7-yard score in the fourth. It was similar to what he did last week at Houston, when he came off the bench in place of injured starter Blaine Gabbert and threw for 354 yards and four touchdowns.
"Hopefully this builds confidence for everybody throughout these next five games, builds new life," said Henne, who hadn't won a start since December 2010.
Henne completed 17 of 26 passes for 261 yards, most of them to Shorts (4 catches for 105 yards) and Blackmon (5 for 62). Shorts set a franchise record with his fourth reception of at least 50 yards this season, surpassing the previous mark set by Keenan McCardell in 1998 and tied by Jimmy Smith the following year.
"It just seems that everything is clicking right now," Blackmon said.
It was far from perfect, though. Henne's first pass was tipped and intercepted. He also was sacked seven times, including two instances that took the Jaguars out of field-goal range.
But he made up for those mistakes with clutch throws, the kind Jacksonville had been missing much of the season — especially at home.
The Jaguars were outscored 153-44 in five losses at EverBank Field. They trailed 3-0 after Henne's interception, but slowly seized control by holding the Titans to field goals most of the day.
Tennessee had the ball inside Jacksonville's 25-yard line six times — and came away with just one touchdown.
Rob Bironas made four field goals and was wide left from 42 yards away. His miss loomed large late in the game.
The Titans (4-7) cut the lead to 21-19 on Jake Locker's 6-yard pass to Kenny Britt with 4:52 remaining and had the ball with a chance to take the lead. But linebacker Russell Allen tipped Locker's pass over the middle, and safety Dwight Lowery — back on the field after a five-week absence — hauled in his first interception of the season.
Josh Scobee's 41-yard field goal with 24 seconds remaining left the Titans in desperation mode for the final few snaps.
Locker completed 23 of 40 passes for 261 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions. His final heave was picked off.
Chris Johnson ran 21 times for 80 yards, including a 31-yard run on Tennessee's lone touchdown drive.
The talk in the Titans' locker room afterward, though, focused on being flat despite having two weeks to prepare.
"I don't think guys expected to come in here and just walk out and win the game," coach Mike Munchak said. "Every team in the NFL is a good football team. If you don't think that, you're mistaken. I don't think our team prepared that way. I don't think we came here with that mindset today. We just didn't execute as well as we needed to to win the game."
The Titans had won two in a row on the road and looked to stay in the playoff hunt with a win after their bye week. Now, they're probably a long shot in the AFC postseason picture.
"This makes it tougher and tougher to keep your playoff hopes alive when you drop games like this," linebacker Zach Brown said. "We felt like this was a game where we were supposed to win."
NOTES: The Jaguars lost three defensive starters: CBs Derek Cox (hamstring) and Aaron Ross (dehydration) did not play the second half, and DE Austen Lane (leg) came out late. ... The Titans are now 3-2 in games decided by seven points or less this season.
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