JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Rain fell from the Florida sky here on Thursday night, but it didn’t wash away the Titans’ sins.
And on this night, there were plenty.
A primetime game against the Jacksonville Jaguars produced disappointing results here at TIAA Bank Field – a 20-7 loss when not many things went right.
“We have to be better in all areas of football,” Titans safety Kevin Byard said. “We have to go back home, watch the film, look ourselves in the mirror and find a way to get better.”
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 23-of-40 passes for 304 yards, but most of his success came when it was too late. Mariota was sacked nine times in the contest and has now been sacked 17 times in the team’s first three contests.
Running back Derrick Henry couldn’t get going, as he was contained by Jacksonville defense nine months after racking up 238 yards and four touchdowns against the Jaguars in their last meeting. Henry finished the game with just 44 yards on 17 carries, including a one-yard touchdown.
The Titans had beaten the Jaguars four straight and six of seven games heading into the contest.
But the streak ended, as the Titans dropped to 1-2.
“I’m frustrated,” Mariota said. “We didn’t come out and play very well. … It’s gut-check, to be honest with you. You lose two division games within a span of five days, and it’s a wake-up call. I think we have the guys in the building to bounce back. I believe in these guys and we are going to find ways to get better and get ready to go next week.”
It was a dreadful start for the Titans, and things never really got a whole lot better.
Return man Adoree’ Jackson muffed a punt after the Titans defense got an early stop, and the Jaguars recovered at the Tennessee 10-yard line. On the very next play, Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew connected with tight end James O’Shaughnessy for a 10-yard touchdown to give Jacksonville an early 7-0 lead.
“I was just trying to make a play,” Jackson said. “It was just a big mistake on my part.”
It became 14-0 not long after, as Minshew directed another drive and capped it off with a 22-yard touchdown pass to DJ Chark. Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler was in coverage on a pair of big completions on the drive.
The Titans hurt themselves further with nine penalties for 101 yards.
“I think there’s a lot of guys that fought, and I think there’s a lot of guys that competed,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “We’ll have to find out if everybody was doing that. Judging by the score, that’s probably not the case. So we’ll watch the tape and make sure the guys who are playing with great effort and finish play more for us.”
Mariota completed just 6-of-16 passes for 62 yards in the first half, as the Titans managed just five first downs.
The Titans put together their best drive of the game on their opening drive of the second half. But they turned the ball over on downs after failing to convert a 4th and 6 from the Jacksonville 11 as Mariota was sacked. On the drive, Mariota connected with receiver Tajae Sharpe for a 47-yard gain, but the Titans couldn’t take advantage of it. A pair of passes to tight end Delanie Walker from the 11-yard line fell incomplete.
The Jaguars then drove the field and extended their lead to 17-0 on a 40-yard field goal by kicker Josh Lambo.
“We have to do a better job of getting off to a faster start,” Sharpe said. “Jacksonville started fast, and we didn’t. We had too many penalties and mistakes – we shot ourselves in the foot. We didn’t do a good enough job of finishing drives. There’s a lot of stuff we have to correct.”
The Titans finally got on the scoreboard with 12:04 left in the contest on a one-yard touchdown run by Henry, which capped a six-play, 66-yard drive. Mariota connected with Walker and receiver Corey Davis for big plays on the drive to set up the score.
Lambo added a 48-yard field goal with 7:34 left, however, as the Jaguars stretched their lead to 20-7. And the Titans couldn’t find a way to close the gap.
The Titans travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons on September 29.
“I think the mindset needs to be, 'Be ready to come into work', but I don’t want anyone to be frantic,” guard Rodger Saffold said. “It is still really early. I want to be able to learn from this, and I want to have a growth mindset and find out what we need to do to get better.”
The Tennessee Titans take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 3 of the 2019 NFL season on Thursday Night Football.