JACKSONVILLE – The Titans beat the Jaguars 31-10 on Sunday here at TIAA Bank Field.
Here's a look at six things that stood out from the game as the team begins to turn its attention to next Sunday's game vs the Detroit Lions:
Titans receiver A.J. Brown is a human highlight reel, because he makes the hard look easy. Case in point: Brown's one-handed snag to cap off a flea-flicker, which gave the Titans a 37-yard touchdown on Sunday. Brown totaled seven receptions for 112 yards and one touchdown against the Jaguars. It was his third 100-yard receiving game of 2020 and the eighth 100-yard game of his two-year career. Brown is also human. While the second-year receiver has been beastly as a pro, he admitted after the game he's beaten himself up of late, after recent drops, fumbles, and criticism. Brown said he plans to lock in, and ignore the noise. "I'm trying to catch every ball. I'm not going out there to drop (it). So, each and every opportunity, I'm just trying to make the most of it. (I've) been in my own head a lot, but that's it, I just stopped caring what people think."
Things didn't look so good for the Titans late in the 2nd quarter. The team squandered opportunities, and let the Jaguars hang around. It was 7-3 with 3:27 before halftime. Then Henry took over, and the Titans punished the Jaguars. Henry ran for 215 yards and two of touchdowns, registering his fourth career game with at least 200 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He became the NFL's first player to record four such performances, breaking Jim Brown's NFL record of three games that was later matched by Barry Sanders and LaDainian Tomlinson. With four career 200-yard rushing games, Henry is tied with Jim Brown, Earl Campbell, Barry Sanders and LaDainian Tomlinson for fourth place in NFL history. Only Adrian Peterson (six), O.J. Simpson (six) and Tiki Barber (five) have had more 200-yard rushing performances than Henry. Henry also registered his ninth consecutive road game with at least 100 rushing yards, passing Chris Johnson (eight games from 2009-10) for the second-longest such streak in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer Barry Sanders (10 games from 1996-97) has a longer streak. I could list a ton more Henry accolades, but the simple description is he's special.
I mentioned how things didn't look good for a while for the Titans. So, this is the time to point out the incredible flurry of points in a short span. A 36-yard touchdown run by Henry with 44 seconds left in the 1st half was followed by a 53-yard field goal from kicker Stephen Gostkowski at the halftime horn, and that kick came after two quick completions by quarterback Ryan Tannehill after the Titans got the ball back with nine seconds at their own 37-yard line. Then came a five-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill to tight end Geoff Swaim just 2:36 into the third quarter. Add it all up and that gave the Titans 17 points in a span of three minutes and 20 seconds. I'm not sure I've ever seen the Titans score so many points in such a short period of time.
No, the Titans defense didn't record a sack. Yes, the Jaguars racked up 354 yards of offense. Still, the Titans had a different look on defense on Sunday. During some critical stages of the game, the Titans were able to harass Jacksonville quarterbacks, and force them into throwing the ball away, or into bad spots. They stiffened up when the Jaguars neared their end zone. Cornerback Malcolm Butler ended up with an interception, and several other Titans had chances. Linebacker Rashaan Evans was especially active, finishing with eight tackles and two passes defensed. Safety Kevin Byard was credited with a team-high 11 tackles. Safety Amani Hooker, cornerback Desmond King, and cornerback Tye Smith were all credited with tackles for a loss. The Titans played with more a swagger on defense on Sunday, and it was good to see.
Special Teams Played Special
The Titans impacted the game in so many different ways on special teams. Defensive lineman DaQuan Jones blocked a field goal on the game's first drive. Hooker took a direct snap, and ran for a first down on a fake punt. Gostkowski made the previously mentioned 53-yarder, and he was perfect on all four of his PATs. Punter Brett Kern was a magician, putting all four of his punts down inside the 20 – at the 11, 12, 13, and 19 to be exact. Titans coach Mike Vrabel deserves credit for being aggressive, special teams coach Craig Aukerman deserves props for a solid plan, and Titans players deserve credit for executing.
Tye Smith Stepped Up
The Titans have been ravaged by injuries in the secondary, especially at cornerback. Adoree' Jackson hasn't played, Kristian Fulton has spent most his year on Injured Reserve, and over the weekend Breon Borders joined him there. The string of bad luck has forced several players to step up when needed. On Sunday, it was cornerback Tye Smith. I wrote Smith's name down several times on Sunday, first for a play on run defense, and then for a nice play in coverage. Smith had a solid day for the Titans when the team needed it, and that's why he's getting extra props here. "My thought process was just to stay prepared," Smith said after the game, "and I believe I was prepared when the opportunity presented itself. … It's all about preparation, and I believe I was prepared, the coaches help me prepare, and the players helped me prepare. I just wanted to play with confidence and believe in myself and my ability."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 14 at TIAA Bank Field.