NASHVILLE, Tenn. —** What a Rush.
The Titans turned in a dominating performance on Thursday night, beating the Jaguars 36-22 in an impressive all-around effort at Nissan Stadium. Decked out on their light blue Color Rush uniforms, the Titans turned the Jaguars black and blue before a national television audience.
And they gained more confidence in the process.
"I think it speaks loudly,'' Titans tight end Delanie Walker said. "I think everyone saw how we felt coming in at halftime, and how we felt coming in after the game. I know they are not blind.
"I think they understand this is the way we need to play every week. … Guys like this feeling."
The Titans were feeling it on Thursday night.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota was sharp. He completed 18-of-22 passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns, with a passer rating of 148.1, before being relieved by back-up Matt Cassel late in the contest. Mariota has 10 touchdown passes vs. one interception in the last four games.
Running back DeMarco Murray ran with authority, and finished the game with 123 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. It was Murray's fourth 100-yard effort in the past six games. Running back Derrick Henry also contributed to the attack, with 60 rushing yards and his first career NFL touchdown.
The Titans ran for 214 yards against the Jaguars, and it sparked four scoring drives in the second quarter alone.
"It is hard to run the ball in this league, and it is definitely hard to run for 200 yards,'' Murray said. "… We have a good team, and we all believe in that and we have all said that all along. Just to see the three phases play collectively well throughout the night, obviously it wasn't perfect.
"But to have that game, it was huge for us going forward."
Yes, most important for the Titans is the fact the team improved to 4-4 with the win, and matched Houston (4-3) for the most wins in the AFC South in the process.
At the season's midway point, the Titans eclipsed their win total (3) from last season. After starting the season 1-3, the Titans have won 3 of their last 4 games.
"I'm proud of our guys, very proud,'' Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. "I'm proud of the way they do things. We wanted to win this quarter, that was important, and we had a home stint. We let one get away (against Indianapolis) and it was important to come back.
"There's a pack here right now at this stage of the year with a lot of teams around us … and we're going to try and stay in it and come out of this pack at some point. We need to stay in it and we did that tonight."
The Titans jumped out early.
The Titans took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter on a 32-yard field goal from kicker Ryan Succop, then they really got rolling.
It became 10-0 when Mariota connected with receiver Kendall Wright on a 36-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the second quarter.
Less than five minutes later, the Titans made it 17-0 on a six-yard touchdown run by Henry. Henry's first career touchdown capped an 8-play, 69-yard drive.
"It felt good,'' Henry said. "It's something I'll remember for the rest of my life."
But the Titans weren't done yet. On this night, there would be plenty more to celebrate.
A 14-yard touchdown run by Murray made it 24-0. Then, on the final play of the first half, Succop made a 22-yard field goal to stretch the lead to 27-0 at the half.
The Titans outgained the Jaguars 354 to 60 yards in the first half.
The Titans played suffocating defense in the first half, and held the Jaguars in check until the end, when Jacksonville added some late scores when the game was out of reach. Linebackers Derrick Morgan and Avery Williamson had sacks for the Titans.
The Jaguars did finally break through and score on their opening possession of the second half, driving 75 yards on 11 plays and scoring on a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Blake Bortles to tight end Julius Thomas. The ensuing two-point conversion made it 27-8.
But the Titans quickly answered back. A 47-yard pass from Mariota to Walker put the Titans deep in Jacksonville territory, and moments later Mariota connected with receiver Rishard Matthews on a four-yard touchdown pass to make it 33-8. The Jaguars added two late scores when Bortles connected with Allen Hurns for a five-yard touchdown and then Bryan Walters for a seven-yard score.
The Titans have scored 26-plus points in four straight games for the first time since 2003.
They'll return to action on November 6 against the Chargers, in San Diego.
"We let some games get away from us (earlier this year) but that's kind of typical of an NFL season,'' Mariota said. "To stand here and be 4-4, to be in the thick of it with our division is really important. That's all we can really ask for now and just take it one game at a time.
"I don't think the mentality changes. We just want to continue to win and continue to get better every single day. Eventually, hopefully, we will pick up our heads when the season's done and like where we're at."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 8 action at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)