JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —The Titans left here last night feeling bluer than their Color Rush uniforms. They knew they'd let another winnable game slip away in the closing minutes of a 19-13 loss to the Jaguars.
"This hurts, man. It's tough,'' linebacker Zach Brown said. "Nobody likes losing. Everybody hates it. We have to find a way to win these games."
The Titans (2-8) held the lead most the second half on Thursday night, but the Jaguars won it late, scoring on a five-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Blake Bortles to tight end Julius Thomas with just 3:30 left to take the lead. The play was set up by a 63-yard punt return by Rashad Green.
When the Titans got the ball back, a fumble by tight end Phillip Supernaw set up another field goal for the Jaguars, giving them a six-point lead.
Still, the Titans had one final chance. But after driving to the Jacksonville 23-yard line after taking over at their own 20-yard line with 2:19 left, quarterback Marcus Mariota was sacked on the game's final play.
Mariota finished the contest 22-of-35 for 231 yards, and he was sacked four times. He also ran for a 23-yard touchdown.
"Every single drive we have, our mentality is to score,'' Mariota said afterward. "We had an opportunity at the end, and I should have just tried to throw it up there to give the guys a chance.
"I have to do a better job of giving the guys a shot."
It looked good for the Titans for a while.
The Tennessee Titans take on the Jacksonville Jaguars Week 11 in Jacksonville. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)
The Titans took the lead midway through the third quarter on a 23-yard run by Mariota, which made it 13-9. It was the first rushing touchdown of Mariota's career, and it capped a five-play, 81-yard drive.
The Titans had a chance to add to the lead, but a 53-yard field goal try by kicker Ryan Succop sailed to the left. Afterward, interim coach Mike Mularkey said he wishes he would've gone for it on fourth-and-2 from the Jacksonville 37-yard line instead of kicking the field goal.
Still, the Titans stiffened up immediately afterward when the Jaguars got the ball back and drove it deep into Tennessee territory. That's when Brown stepped up and intercepted Bortles on the 12-yard line, ending the drive.
In the end, however, mistakes at the end doomed the Titans.
"Every loss we've had has been tough if you ask me,'' linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. "We are right there, man, but we have to find a way to win. We have to find a way to win at the end of these games.
"We have to find that finishing formula. We played good for 95 percent of the game, but that five percent of the game is not good enough to win at the end. We are losing on that, and that is something we are not good enough to do. Week in and week out, we have to find a way to get over the hump."
The Titans jumped out to a 3-0 lead on their opening series of the game on a 47-yard field goal by Succop. It capped a 10-play, 51-yard drive that included a 21-yard pass from Mariota to tight end Delanie Walker.
The Jaguars tied the game at 3-3 just 10 seconds into the second quarter on a 31-yard field goal by kicker Jason Myers.
The Titans, however, reclaimed the lead at 6-3 in the second quarter on a 49-yard kick by Succop.
The Jaguars had a chance to move ahead just before halftime, but a sack by linebacker Brian Orakpo ended a Jacksonville drive, and the Jaguars settled for a 32-yard kick by Myers to make it 6-6 at halftime.
Time and again the defense stiffened up. When the Jaguars drove inside the two-yard line early in the third quarter, a third-and-goal stop by Woodyard from the two went for no gain, and the Jaguars settled for a field goal to make it 9-6 with 8:10 remaining in the third quarter.
Mularkey said the team needs to keep working. The Titans sacked Bortles four times in the contest, and held the Jaguars to 4-of-13 on third down. But it wasn't enough.
"We have to figure out a way to get over the hump,'' Mularkey said. "That is my job right now, to try and figure out how to get us over the hump in these games. We have to find a way to do it."
The Titans return to action on November 29 against the Raiders at Nissan Stadium.