JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Titans lost 20-16 to the Jaguars here on Saturday night.
Here's a look at six things that stood out from the contest:
It was a short season for quarterback Josh Dobbs in Tennessee. After joining the Titans late last month, Dobbs started the final two games for the team. On Saturday night, Dobbs stepped up and made some big throws. He was gutsy on third down, and he threw a strike to tight end Chig Okonkwo for a touchdown. Dobbs threw an interception as well, and he lost the football on a strip sack in the closing minutes. On the night, Dobbs completed 20-of-29 passes for 179 yards with the TD and INT. Dobbs deserves a lot of credit for giving the Titans a chance. After the game, he said he's thankful for the opportunity. "Obviously, losing sucks, especially with the magnitude of the game," Dobbs said. "Not only personally, but the guys. … It's been a tremendous journey. I'm proud of my effort, I'm proud of the team's effort and I'm proud of how guys fought."
The Late Strip Sack
The biggest play of the game came late, and it immediately created some buzz amongst Titans fans. On a third-and-six from the 35, Dobbs was hit from behind and fumbled, and Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen picked it up and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown to give Jacksonville the lead with 2:51 left. Titans head coach Mike Vrabel didn't make a big fuss about the play, saying he hadn't seen the replay. Dobbs didn't complain, but he did wonder aloud if it was the right call. "I felt like my arm was moving forward," Dobbs said. "When you throw the ball, and the ball goes forward after the guy hits you, it feels like … I'm a physics guy, so it's pretty simple. But I haven't seen the play, so I don't know when he hit me in the act of throwing. When you are on the road, they do a great job of not showing replays of big plays. I'll check it out on film and see, but it was definitely a tough one."
Sure, I would have been nice if the Titans would've generated more of a pass rush. The defense tallied just one sack in the contest (DT Teair Tart), while hitting Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence just four times. But the defense played well enough to win. In the December 11 contest at Nissan Stadium, Lawrence threw for a career-high 368 yards and three touchdowns. On Saturday night, Lawrence threw for just 212 yards, and the Jaguars managed just 13 first downs. The Titans also held the Jaguars to just 19 rushing yards in the contest. The Jaguars frustrated the Titans at time by converting 5-of-11 on third down, but time and again the defense gave the team a chance. Unfortunately, the offense couldn't hold up its end of the bargain in the second half, when the Titans managed just three points.
How's this for a crazy stat: The Jaguars scored 10 points in the fourth quarter despite having minus-1 total yards. The late third quarter interception thrown by Dobbs set up a Jacksonville field goal early in the fourth quarter, and then the Jaguars scored on the late strip sack touchdown. "It cost (us) the game," Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said of the turnovers. "In this league you can't turn it over and give up defensive scores. But we're all in this thing together and that's the most important thing that we have to recognize."
Titans running back Derrick Henry ran for 109 yards on 30 carries against the Jaguars, and he also caught a screen pass and took it for 19 yards. Henry's most memorable play of the night, however, was his stiff-arm of Jaguars safety Rayshawn Jenkins on a 14-yard run. Henry sized Jenkins up on the play, and shoved him out of his way. On the next play, the Titans found their way into the end zone on a Dobbs-to-Okonkwo pass.
When the game ended, the scene on the field – the Jaguars celebrating – and in the Titans locker room – dejected players with tears in their eyes – told the story. Tears rolled down the face of Titans defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons as he talked about his season, and playing on a bum ankle. He said he'd do it all over again because of the love he has for his teammates. A number of players talked about how different the team could end up being in 2023. The Titans players are scheduled to clean out their lockers and go their separate ways on Monday. "We expected more from ourselves this season, and that's the most disappointing thing," safety Kevin Byard said. "A lot of questions have to be answered with this franchise, so we'll see what happens over the next few months."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 18 at TIAA Bank Stadium.
The Tennessee Titans prepare to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 18 at TIAA Bank Stadium.
The Tennessee Titans arrive at TIAA Bank Stadium for their Week 18 Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Tennessee Titans travel to Jacksonville for their Week 18 game at TIAA Bank Stadium. (Tennessee Titans)