In a must-win situation, the Tennessee Titans dominated the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first half on their way to a 36-22 victory Thursday night at Nissan Stadium in a game not nearly as close as the final score.
Tennessee’s offense rolled up 494 yards of total offense, using the rushing of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, along with the passing of Marcus Mariota to shred a porous Jaguars defense.
The victory evened the Titans’ record at 4-4 on the season, as Tennessee jumped out to a 27-0 lead at the half and never looked back.
The importance of the victory as not lost on the Titans, who had that in the back of their mind leading up to Thursday’s game. Having lost AFC South games to Houston and Indianapolis, the Titans could ill afford to drop another division game – especially at home.
“You talk about it and you understand the situation. The coaches do a good job of outlining what’s our expectation and what our goals are and how we can achieve those,” Mariota said. “We understood that this was a division game at home and (a win would) give us an opportunity to stay in the thick of things, and it was good for us to get this win.”
In getting to .500, the Titans surpassed last year’s win total and now are within one victory of equaling their win total of the previous two seasons combined.
But getting to .500 is not what the Titans aspire to, according to Murray.
“I think our goals are a little bit higher than .500. We’ve got to just keep playing and getting better,” he said. “This is the time of year where the good teams find themselves and get things rolling.”
Tennessee showed its dominance in the first half, scoring on five straight possessions in piling up 27 points and 354 total yards in the first two quarters.
After Ryan Succop opened the scoring with a 32 yard field goal, the Titans scored their first touchdown when Mariota found Kendall Wright on a deep post route for a 36-yard touchdown, giving Tennessee a 10-0 lead.
On the next series for the Titans, rookie running back Henry scored his first NFL touchdown on a 6-yard run to make the score 17-0.
The Titans continued to add to their lead and the Jaguars’ misery as Murray reversed course and, with the help of a block from Mariota, rambled into the end zone from 14 yards out to make the score 24-0.
Tennessee then closed the half, driving from its own 4 yard line own to the Jaguars 4 with four seconds left, where Succop connected on a 22-yard field goal as the first half expired, making the score 27-0.
The Jaguars, who struggled to find any rhythm in the first half, showed signs of life on the opening drive of the first half, taking the ball and going 75 yards with Blake Bortles hitting Julius Thomas for a 10-yard TD. The Jaguars went for two and Bortles ran it in on the quarterback draw, cutting the Titans lead to 27-8.
The Titans, however, answered that with another touchdown drive to extinguish any thoughts of a comeback. Mariota capped that march with a 4-yard TD pass to Rishard Matthews. The point after from Succop was no good, but he later added a 33-yard field goal.
Mariota enjoyed a big night, hitting on 18 of 22 passes for 270 yards with two touchdowns with no turnovers.
The Jaguars added two consolation touchdowns to make the score a little more respectable at the end.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey was pleased that the Titans performed in all three phases of the game, after having letdowns in a number of areas in previous games.
“I thought we played well in all three phases. I thought we played better,” Mularkey said. “We played all three really complementing each other, and that’s what we have to do.”