Led by Derrick Henry, the Titans stomped all over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night.
The good version of the Tennessee Titans showed up Thursday night at Nissan Stadium.
Against their most bitter rival, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Titans were dominant from start to finish. They took an early lead and steadily built on it for the remainder of the game.
There were some mistakes, such as Cameron Batson’s gaffe on a punt return that resulted in a safety and Marcus Mariota’s sailing interception in the first quarter. Aside from those issues, though, the Titans put a mostly flawless product on the field.
As several players in the Titans’ locker room stated over the course of the practice week leading up to the game, any team can be beaten in any game. Even a team as disastrous and lethargic as the Jaguars will have good moments, such as the team’s defeat of the red-hot Indianapolis Colts last week.
For that reason, a fast start was crucial for the Titans.
This marks the second year in a row that the Titans have swept the Jaguars, who have not defeated the Titans since December of 2016. A streak like that can certainly instill a feeling of hopelessness in the team that falls on the wrong side.
With that being the case, the Titans could not afford to give the Jaguars even a glimmer of hope in the game. The fact that they didn’t give them hope was a big reason why they were able to cruise to a victory.
From the get-go, the Titans were on fire. Their opening drive was a work of art that yielded a touchdown, setting the tone for the rest of the day.
The defense followed it up by harassing Jaguars QB Cody Kessler for the game’s entirety. He was constantly under duress, preventing the Jaguars from being able to sustain drives.
Also important for the Titans, especially against a defense as talented as the Jaguars’, was establishing control of the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
Defensively, the Titans held running back Leonard Fournette in check for the entire game. He averaged just 2.6 yards per carry.
On offense, the Titans were led by Derrick Henry, who broke the franchise’s single-game rushing yardage record with 238. His four touchdowns were one shy of the NFL’s all-time single-game record.
Henry certainly did his part. He ran with physicality, speed, and decisiveness. It was not all him, though.
Unexpectedly, the Titans offensive line was tremendous against the Jaguars. They consistently opened up big holes for Henry to run into, and they gave Mariota plenty of clean pockets to throw from.
Essentially, everything that needed to go right for the Titans to win this game did indeed go right. The Titans seem to play with a different edge when they face the Jaguars, something that really works to their favor.
Two weeks ago, the Titans knew they would likely have to win all of their final five games in order to have a legitimate shot at a wildcard berth. Since then, they are 2 for 2.
Perhaps the pressure has been a good thing for the Titans. Especially after winning this game in dominant fashion, it continues to mount.
The Titans must continue to take every game at face value and not look ahead in the schedule. They clearly have the talent to take down any team in the NFL, and they are a consistently competitive bunch.
Now, it comes down to execution. That’s where the team’s fate will lie.
Cover images: USA Today/Jim Brown