Buck Reising, Tennessee Titans reporter and host of Tackling Music City, provides three observations from the team’s 30-9 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Pregame topics of conversation in the Tennessee Titans (7-6) press box are always entertaining and not safe for print. But today before a Week 14 nationally-televised Thursday Night Football against the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9), the question was this: how will Tennessee shock us today?
2018 has been a well-documented comedy of errors and series of surprises for these Titans. Thursday at Nissan Stadium was just the latest chapter of another inexplicable result by unconventional means. Here is what stood out in Week 14:
- Run, Derrick, Run!
- 238 rushing yards was the total for running back Derrick Henry against Jacksonville on a mere 17 carries. Henry broke Chris Johnson’s franchise record of 228 (also against the Jaguars) that was set in 2009, finished with all four of his team’s touchdowns on the evening and five of Tennessee’s Top 10 biggest plays.
- “I’d probably put this – I don’t know. I’d put this at No. 1, you know, because it’s not really about me,” Henry responded when asked where Thurday’s game ranked for him. “It’s about those guys blocking. For me to be able to have success, for me to do my job, I’ve got to count on those guys, so credit to them. I’m not going to take all the credit. They definitely deserve it. Hats off to those guys for my success.”
- Only Henry and Tony Dorsett can claim the longest run in NFL history (99 yards) as a part of their resume. The Titans running back entered this Week 14 game with 474 rushing yards and five touchdowns; he exited with 712 yards on the ground this season and four more scores.
- Stayin’ Alive
- Three teams with a 6-6 record have a tiebreaker over Tennessee in the hunt for AFC playoff berths. When those teams net their final results this weekend, the odds of postseason football for Nashville will be more clear. For now, though, hope springs eternal for a team with a 7-6 record and (as of Thursday night) holding the seventh seed in their conference.
- “There’s no really room,” coach Mike Vrabel said on his team’s margin for error. “We got to keep stringing these together and winning games to give yourself a chance. I think there’s a bunch of teams bunched up, and hopefully this week there’s some movement. But, if not, we understand that we have to win games. You know, you can’t sit there and hope for a whole bunch of help when there’s five or six teams all bunched up together.”
- Losses to Houston, the Los Angeles Chargers, Baltimore, Miami and Indianapolis have come back to bite Tennessee, whose playoff trip is not guaranteed even if they win out. With the Giants (4-8, away), Washington (6-6) and the Colts (6-6, both home) remaining, the path does exist if there can be some semblance of consistency of play found.
- Not Great, Bob!
- Flaws are evident in the local professional football team. The good news for anyone invested is that said flaws are not proving to be fatal.
- Quarterback Marcus Mariota finished with a pedestrian statistical night, completing 18 of his 24 passes for 162 yards and an interception. His best efforts were not necessary for his team to pull out the win thanks to Henry but a bad turnover on a throw to an open Tajae Sharpe is enough to keep the criticism about this quarterback afloat.
- “Really, I sailed it,” said Mariota of the pick. “That comes from, sometimes, when you’re rolling out and throwing on the run, you get moving a little too fast. I think, for me, it’s being able to naturally slow myself down. I’ve always kind of had an ability to, almost a cue for me to slow down, and I was still kind of going pretty fast. I think that I had too much generated on it and allowed the ball to sail.”
- Mariota’s first-half interception plus a muffed punt return by Cam Batson that led to a Jaguars safety and their first points of the game did not make much of a difference on the outcome. Jacksonville played poorly throughout the evening but the two early gaffes on the part of the Titans allowed their opponent to hang around for longer than they should have. Slow starts and self-destructive tendencies have been a trend with Tennessee this season and have got them looking up at the playoffs just out of reach. Thursday’s game was a small sample size but, as Vrabel has harped on in this backstretch of the season, the Titans continue to try and beat the themselves.