NASHVILLE, Tenn. –** As he packed his bags following his rookie season, Titans safety Kevin Byard looked ahead to 2017, and made his goals known:
• Make the playoffs.
• Make the Pro Bowl.
Despite leading all NFL free safeties in fan voting for the Pro Bowl – and leading the NFL in interceptions -- Byard wasn't voted to the all-star game. But the Titans second-year player from MTSU clinched the team's berth into the playoffs with an interception of Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles with just 10 seconds left.
And he said that was priority No.1.
"It is just an amazing feeling right now," said Byard, who had two interceptions in the game. "To be able to help this team win, and to be able to get a pick at the end. It means so much to me because I know it means so much to a lot of other guys. I'm so glad I was able to help my team. Now we have to keep it going."
Byard finished the season with eight interceptions, and two fumble recoveries.
On Sunday, the Titans played with a refuse-to-lose mentality on defense while winning 15-10 over the Jaguars. They kept the Jaguars offense out of the end zone, and forced turnovers. Jurrell Casey and Brian Orakpo had key sacks.
"If they don't score, we can't lose – that was the mindset," Casey said. "We just kept harping on that: Don't let them score. Don't let them score."
The Jaguars scored a touchdown on defense, but the offense couldn't muster a score.
Cornerback Logan Ryan said it was "fitting" the game ended with an interception by Byard.
"It's awesome, man," Ryan said of Byard. "Hopefully it caps off his all-pro year. He got snubbed for the Pro Bowl, 100 percent. But they say you don't make it the first year you deserve to. Hopefully he's All-Pro. …At the end of the day Kevin Byard is a huge reason we're in the playoffs. He got almost every turnover for us this year, and it was fitting it ended that way."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 17 at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)