NASHVILLE – The Titans turned a tight game vs the Jaguars into a blowout on Sunday with an offensive explosion to start the second half.
And I do mean an offensive explosion – we're talking touchdowns on three consecutive plays on offense.
"That," left tackle Taylor Lewan said after the game, "was a fun game to be a part of."
Yes, the Titans scored three touchdowns in less than five minutes to start the second half and rolled to a 42-20 win over the Jaguars at Nissan Stadium.
The touchdowns came at a fast and furious pace, in every way imaginable.
They came on a day when Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed 14-of-18 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns while also running for 40 yards and two touchdowns.
They came on a day when Titans running back Derrick Henry once again electrified the crowd, running for 159 yards and two touchdowns.
They came on a day when receiver A.J. Brown caught four passes for 135 yards, including a 65-yard catch.
And they came on a day when the Titans improved to 6-5 while moving to within one game of the Houston Texans (7-4) for first place in the AFC South. The Titans have now won four of their last five games after a 2-4 start, not that coach Mike Vrabel is counting.
"You know, I couldn't even tell you how many we've won -- I know we've won one in a row," Vrabel said. "So we're able to just get a leg up in what we're trying to do. Try to find our next opponent, figure out where we play them and when we play them and start to prepare for them. This will be a huge week for us with the holiday season, with the holiday, Thanksgiving and a division opponent."
Next up, of course, is a game against the Colts in Indianapolis.
But Sunday's game was worth celebrating for at least a little bit.
In the third quarter, Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith went digging into his bag of tricks as the Titans racked up 248 yards and four touchdowns.
On the first possession of the third quarter, after a halfback pass from Henry to tight end Jonnu Smith drew a defensive pass interference penalty, the Titans had the ball at the one-yard line. That's when Tannehill completed a one-yard touchdown pass to tackle-eligible Dennis Kelly, who spun the ball before celebrating with his teammates as the Titans took a 14-3 lead with 13:13 left in the third.
"The last time I caught a pass was the fall of 2007 (in high school)," Kelly said. "I'm glad I got to put the skills to use. … It started with a, "Don't drop the ball, idiot." And then (on the celebration) we (pretended to) open up a cooler and shared (drinks) with the boys and we shot-gunned it."
Less than three minutes later, Henry took off and scored a 74-yard touchdown run that included another batch of stiff-armed, reminiscent of his 99-yard touchdown run against the Jaguars in December of 2018. Henry ended up in the end zone, and that made it 21-3 with 10:40 left in the third.
"I was similar," Henry said of last year's scoring scamper. "I was trying to keep them away. I kept trying to stay inbounds and keep moving down the field, and it worked again."
After linebacker Daren Bates forced a fumble – and recovered it – on the ensuing kickoff, Henry scored again, this time on a seven-yard run, which made it 28-3 with 10:24 remaining.
The three touchdowns came in a span of 4:36.
By scoring two rushing touchdowns in a 16-second span, Henry became the first player since Pro Football Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson (two touchdowns in 15 seconds in Week 10, 2006) to score two touchdowns within a 20-second span in a single game.
With his 74-yard touchdown run, Henry joined Napolean Kaufman (1997-99) and Robert Smith (1997-2000) as the only players in NFL history to record a rushing touchdown of at least 70 yards in three consecutive seasons.
"Derrick took the game over," Brown said.
But the Titans weren't finished. A few minutes later, Tannehill connected with Brown for the 65-yard touchdown, which made it 35-3 with 6:57 left in the third quarter.
"That was a fun stretch there, just guys executing," said Tannehill, who is now 4-1 as a starter this season. "You never know what can happen. We have playmakers on this field. That was a crazy stretch. The defense got us the ball back quickly right after that first touchdown, and obviously on the kickoff return. Guys made plays. We had opportunities, and we took advantage of them."
The Jaguars scored on a pair of one-yard touchdown runs by Leonard Fournette to cut the lead to 35-17 before Tannehill scored again on another touchdown run, which made it 42-17 with 9:47 left. The Jaguars kicked a field goal with 4:48 left to make it 42-20.
The second half scene at Nissan Stadium was a wild one, as chants chanted "Henry, Henry, Henry" on multiple occasions while celebrating one score after the next.
The first half lacked scoring, but it didn't lack some excitement.
The Titans took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter on another highlight-reel play from Tannehill.
One a second-and-nine from the Jacksonville 21-yard line, Tannehill took off to his right before cutting to his left and in the direction of the endzone. Tannehill collided with Jacksonville defender Tre Herndon at the goal-line, and after gong airborne he landed on his back in the endzone for a touchdown.
"I looked down and said, 'Uh, oh, this is going to hurt,'" Tannehill said, smiling. "But it was fun, and it was a good opportunity to get into the end zone."
The Jaguars cut the lead to 7-3 at halftime on a 49-yard field goal by kicker Josh Lambo, but that only set the stage for a crazy final 30 minutes.
Now, with five games left in the regular season, the Titans know they can't let up now.
"Our mindset is that we are still trying to get in," tackle Jack Conklin said. "You know it is one game at a time. We've got to go to Indy now and get another win. It's going to be a hard-fought battle and that's our mindset. Everyone starts looking at it and it is still a battle. We are still in the hunt. We still have got to keep fighting."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 12 of the 2019 season at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donald Page)