NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Talk about a game that had it all.
Want points? Sunday's Titans-Jaguars game had plenty of them. The two teams combined for 41 points in the fourth quarter, making it the highest scoring fourth quarter in the NFL this season.
Want big plays? This one had them as well, but none was bigger than quarterback Marcus Mariota's 87-yard touchdown run. It was the third longest run by an NFL quarterback since 1960.
But most important for the Titans – the wild and wacky game ended with a 42-39 win, which snapped an 11-game home losing streak.
"It's draining, I can't lie,'' tight end Delanie Walker said with a smile. "It went down to the last minute and it was nerve-wracking, but it's football. No one ever said it was going to be easy.
"After all the Ls, to finally get a W in the home stadium, it was big. It was exciting, man. And I'm glad we could do it for the city of Nashville."
The Titans improved to 3-9 with the win, and they topped their win total from last season's 2-14 mark in the process. The team improved to 2-3 under interim head coach Mike Mularkey.
"Proud, I mean, very proud of them,'' Mularkey said of his emotions afterward. "I think they thought it was important for me to win because of my previous history (as a head coach) with the other team. I told them last night, no, it was important to win for all of us in the room, the coaching staff and the players, because of how hard we work. That's why I want to win. That's why this is so much better of a feel, because I know how important it was to all those guys in that room."
"It's just amazing the resiliency, again, being in the same sort of game we've been in really the last couple of weeks for sure, and a lot of games this year. … We've talked about finding a way to win and we've found a way, and different ways this week to win the game, but I was very proud of how they stuck together on that sideline. They're an amazing group to coach."
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was spectacular in the win. He completed 20-of-29 passes for 268 yards with three touchdowns, and an interception. He also ran for 112 yards, including an 87-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Mariota became the first player (vets included) in NFL history with 250-plus pass yards, 100-plus rushing yards & three touchdown passes in a game.
Mariota now has four games with 3-plus touchdown passes, tying him with Peyton Manning for most ever by an NFL rookie.
"Guys just trusted each other,'' Mariota said afterward. "We had been in these situations before, and we just found a way to win. As the season goes on it will always come down to the fourth quarter, and we are going to have to continue to find a way to do that. Today was a good step forward."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Jacksonville Jaguars Week 13 at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)
The Jaguars had a late chance to tie or win the game late, but safety Da'Norris Searcy and defensive lineman Karl Klug combined to sack quarterback Blake Bortles with 2:02 left, and the Titans ran out the clock.
Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard had a three-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter as the team built a 42-32 win. But Bortles kept the Jaguars in it by throwing for 322 yards and five touchdowns.
"It is rewarding, to be able to say we got a win, and we came out fighting no matter what,'' Woodyard said. "It was a shootout, and we have been on the losing side of too many of these.
"As a defense we have to challenge ourselves because we made some mistakes and allowed ourselves to be in a shootout, and that is something we can't have as a defense. We pride ourselves in being a Top 10 defense and today wasn't our best day, but we were able to win because our offense made some big plays."
The scoring started early in this one.
After the Titans took an early lead on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to tight end Craig Stevens, the Jaguars cut the lead to 7-6 on a two-yard touchdown pass from Bortles to Rashad Greene.
The two teams traded touchdowns again in the second quarter. After Mariota connected with Walker for a seven-yard touchdown, the Jaguars answered back with a one-yard touchdown run by T.J. Yeldon to make it 14-12. The Jaguars missed the extra point on their first touchdown, and failed on a two-point conversion following their second score.
The Titans turned it an impressive drive at the end of the first half, and included a gutsy call by Mularkey to end it. After taking over at their own 25-yard line with 1:45 left, Mariota drive the Titans to the Jacksonville 1-yard line with completions to Dorial Green-Beckham, Harry Douglas and Walker.
Walker broke tackles and got the ball to the Jacksonville 1-yard line with just five seconds left before halftime.
Instead of kicking the field goal, Mularkey kept the offense on the field, and running back Antonio Andrews bowled in for a score, making it 21-12, with just two seconds left before halftime.
"I loved the call,'' Mariota said of the decision to go for it. "At first everyone in the huddle thought we were going to kick a field goal. Then they sent out the new personnel, and it sounded good to me. It's awesome because it really set the tone for the game, and it was a huge run by Antonio."
The Jaguars cut the lead to 21-19 with 4:52 left in the third quarter on a one-yard touchdown pass from Bortles to Allen Robinson, which capped a 14-play, 64-yard drive.
The Titans extended the lead to 28-19 on the first play of the fourth quarter when Green-Beckham caught a Mariota pass, escaped would-be tacklers, and then sprinted 47 yards into the end zone.
But the Jaguars cut the lead to 28-25 on another Bortles touchdown pass to Robinson less than three minutes later.
The, disaster struck. Mariota was sacked, and he lost a fumble in the process. Bortles connected with tight end Julius Thomas on the very next play to make it 32-28 Jacksonville with 10:09 remaining.
The Titans scored two touchdowns in a hurry to make it 42-28. Mariota broke free for an 87-yard touchdown run, and then came Woodyard's scoop and score seconds later.
The Jaguars answered back with another Bortles-to-Robinson pass to make it 42-39 with 6:28 left, but the Titans managed to hold on.
"Obviously, it's nice for us to end that (home loss) streak for the fans. They pay their hard-earned money to come watch us play at home, and if we don't get that win, it's frustrating for everybody,'' Klug said. "It feels good especially (winning) at home. I saw a sign out there that said over 400 days. It was over 400 days since our last home win. As I said, obviously it's nice for us to get a win, but for the fans. To give them a win."