Tennessee Titans (7-7) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10)
Nashville, TN – The Tennessee Titans (7-7) play their final home game of the 2011 season this week, as they host the AFC South-rival Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10) in a Christmas Eve matchup. Kickoff at LP Field (capacity 69,143) is scheduled for noon CST on Saturday, December 24th.
With two games remaining in the regular season, the Titans are still alive in the playoff chase but must win to preserve their chances. With the the AFC South Championship already clinched by the Houston Texans, the Titans’ path to the postseason would have to be as a Wild Card.
Aside from the Texans, the New England Patriots (11-3) have clinched the AFC East, while the Baltimore Ravens (10-4) and Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3 prior to Monday night’s game) have clinched playoff berths and are battling for the North crown. In the West, all four teams are alive, with the Denver Broncos (8-6) ahead of the Oakland Raiders (7-7), San Diego Chargers (7-7) and Kansas City Chiefs (6-8).
The New York Jets (8-6) and Cincinnati Bengals (8-6) are the remaining two Wild Card hopefuls.
Four division winners and two Wild Card teams advance from each conference.
Their game against the Jaguars is the Titans’ second of three consecutive battles with division opponents. They visited Indianapolis last week and conclude the season next week with a trip to Houston.
The Titans are hoping for a different result from their first meeting with the Jaguars this year.
The Mike Munchak head-coaching era began in Jacksonville in Week 1 with a loss. After falling behind 13-0 in the third quarter, the Titans rallied to get within two points of the Jaguars. But a late interception in Jaguars territory thwarted the Titans’ final drive, and they fell by a final score of 16-14.
Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, making his debut in a Titans uniform, passed for 263 yards and two touchdowns to wide receiver Kenny Britt.
This week’s game will be televised regionally on CBS, including Nashville affiliate WTVF News-Channel 5. Bill Macatee will handle play-by-play duties, while Steve Tasker provides analysis.
The Titans Radio Network, including Nashville flagship 104.5 The Zone, will broadcast the game across the Mid-South with the “Voice of the Titans” Mike Keith, analyst Frank Wycheck, sideline reporter Cody Allison and gameday host Larry Stone.
The game can be heard locally on 1400 AM, WJZM.
The Titans suffered a 27-13 setback last week against the previously winless Indianapolis Colts. Colts running back Donald Brown rushed for 161 yards on 16 carries, including a late 80-yard touchdown run that helped put the contest out of reach for the Titans.
Titans rookie quarterback Jake Locker has come off the bench in each of the last two games and in three of the last five games for Matt Hasselbeck, who suffered an elbow injury on November 20th at Atlanta and a calf injury December 11th against New Orleans. Locker found Nate Washington for a seven yard score against the Colts, the fourth time the duo has connected for a touchdown in Locker’s limited action.
Hasselbeck, who has started every game in his 13th NFL season and his first campain in Tennessee, needs 76 passing yards to give him his eighth career 3,000-yard passing season.
The Jaguars will have nine days to prepare for this week’s contest. Last week they traveled to Atlanta, where they were defeated by a final score of 41-14. In the loss, running back Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for 112 yards, giving him a league-high 1,334 yards in 2011.
The Jaguars are in the midst of significant organizational change. Team ownership is in transition from Wayne Weaver, who has led the club since its expansion season of 1995, to Illinois businessman Shahid Khan. The official transfer is expected to take place in January.
Additionally, the Jaguars and long-time head coach Jack Del Rio parted ways on November 29th. Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker was named interim head coach for the remainder of the 2011 season.
Titans-Jaguars Series At A Glance
What To Look For This Week
K Rob Bironas (99 points) needs one point for his fifth consecutive 100-point season.
TE Jared Cook (962 career receiving yards) needs 38 receiving yards to reach 1,000 for his career.
QB Matt Hasselbeck can record the 24th 300-yard passing game of his career.
QB Matt Hasselbeck needs 76 passing yards to give him his eighth career 3,000-yard passing season.
RB Chris Johnson can record the 29th 100-yard rushing game of his career and his fifth 100-yard game of 2011.
RB Chris Johnson needs 70 rushing yards for his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season. He would be the third player in franchise history to accomplish the feat, joining Eddie George (five seasons from 1996-00) and Earl Campbell (four from 1978-81).
T Michael Roos is scheduled to make his 111th consecutive start.
G Jake Scott is scheduled to make his 119th consecutive start.
WR Nate Washington (six touchdown receptions in 2011) needs one touchdown reception to set a new career high for a season.
WR Nate Washington can extend his streak of consecutive games with at least one reception to 61 (47 games with the Titans).
Titans-Jaguars Series History
The Jaguars are the Titans’ longest-standing division rival. The clubs have met at least twice each year since Jacksonville began play as an expansion franchise in 1995. For the first seven seasons of the 16-year rivalry they played in the AFC Central, and for the last nine years they have been members of the AFC South. The teams have met a total of 34 times, with the Titans holding a 19-15 advantage.
The majority of Titans-Jaguars contests have been highly competitive. Overall, 19 of the 34 Titans-Jaguars meetings have been decided by seven points or fewer. This year’s season opener was no exception. The Jaguars won 16-14 after Jacksonville safety Dwight Lowery intercepted a Matt Hasselbeck pass with 16 seconds on the clock. The Titans initially fell behind 13-0 before mounting their comeback with two touchdown receptions by Kenny Britt.
The last Titans-Jaguars game at LP Field took place December 5th, 2010, when the Jaguars rushed for 258 total yards on 53 attempts in a 17-6 victory. Maurice Jones-Drew led Jacksonville with 186 rushing yards on 31 carries.
The Titans have posted two separate five-game winning streaks against the Jaguars, dating from 1998-00 and 2001-03. Jacksonville’s longest winning streak in the series was a four-game run from 1996-98.
The stakes of the rivalry were never higher than in 1999, when the Titans and Jaguars met three times, including the AFC Championship Game in Jacksonville. Steve McNair rushed for two touchdowns and Derrick Mason returned a kickoff 80 yards as the Titans earned their first Super Bowl berth with a 33-14 win. Tennessee went on to Super Bowl XXXIV and eventuall fell at the hands of the St. Louis Rams, 23-16.
The Jaguars played their first game in franchise history against the then-Houston Oilers on September 3rd, 1995. Playing in Jacksonville, the Oilers won the game by a 10-3 final score. That was the first of three season openers between the Oilers/Titans and Jaguars prior to this week’s game. The Titans were victorious in the other two contests as well, taking the Kickoff Weekend matchup in both 2007 and 2008.
Titans-Jaguars: The Last Meeting
Tennessee Titans 14 at Jacksonville Jaguars 16
In Week 1, an interception by Jacksonville Jaguars safety Dwight Lowery with 16 seconds remaining in the game sealed a 16-14 victory over the Titans.
Trailing with 1:45 on the clock, the Titans were pinned at their own three-yard line after a 44-yard punt by Matt Turk. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck scrambled for nine yards and then completed three consecutive passes to get the ball to the Tennessee 46. After spiking the ball, Hasselbeck looked deep to wide receiver Kenny Britt, but Lowery came down with the ball at the 20-yard line.
That ended what was an improbable comeback attempt by the Titans after falling behind 13-0 in the third quarter. The Jaguars controlled the action for much of the day on both sides of the line of scrimmage, finishing with a time of possession of 39:38. They recorded 47 total rushing attempts for 163 yards, including 97 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries by Maurice Jones-Drew.
Meanwhile, the Titans gained only 43 yards on 13 carries. In the first half, they were limited to nine rushing yards and four total first downs.
It left Hasselbeck, playing his first game in a Titans uniform, to carry much of the load. He completed 21 of 34 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns.
In the first quarter, the Jaguars jumped out to an early 7-0 lead on a 21-yard touchdown run by Jones-Drew, and in the second quarter, Josh Scobee booted a 48-yard field goal to conclude a drive for the Jaguars that took nearly seven minutes.
On the first series of the third quarter, the Titans recorded their only takeaway of the game on a fumble recovery by Will Witherspoon. However, the Titans went three-and-out for the fourth time (out of five in the game) and were forced to punt.
The Jaguars then used their familiar recipe to extend their lead to 13-0. They marched all the way to the Tennessese one-yard line, but the Titans defense stiffened, forcing a 21-yard field goal by Scobee. The drive was 13 plays, 61 yards, and it used 7:45 of clock time.
The Titans finally got on the scoreboard with an unusual touchdown on the next play from scrimmage. Hasselbeck was being rushed and dumped a short pass over the middle to Britt, who then raced 80 yards to the end zone to pull the Titans to within six points.
The Jaguars came right back with what would prove to be the game-winning score. After marching 54 yards on 11 plays, Scobee extended the Jaguars’ lead to 16-7 with a 45-yard field goal at the 12:22 mark in the fourth quarter.
The Titans had their longest sustained drive of the game later in the fourth quarter, moving the ball to the two-yard line before facing a third-and-goal. Hasselbeck lofted a pass to Britt in the end zone, and after an officials’ review, the call was upheld as a touchdown.
On the ensuing Jaguars drive, a 26-yard pass from McCown to Mike Thomas converted a third-and-eight, setting up the field position that the Titans could not overcome on their final drive.
Topics104-5 The Zone, AFC Central, AFC East, AFC South, AFC South Championship, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Bill Macatee, CBS, Chris Johnson, Christmas Eve, Cincinnati Bengals, Cody Allison, Denver Broncos, Derrick Mason, Donald Brown, Dwight Lowery, Earl Campbell, Eddie George, EverBank Field, Frank Wycheck, Houston Oilers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jack Del Rio, Jack Locker, Jacksonville FL, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jake Scott, Jared Cook, Josh Scobee, Kansas City Chiefs, Kenny Britt, Larry Stone, LP field, Matt hasselbeck, Matt Turk, Maurice Jones-Drew, Mel Tucker, Michael Roos, Mike Keith, Mike Munchak, Mike Thomas, Nashville TN, Nate Washington, National Football League, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, NFL, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, Rob Bironas, San Diego Chargers, Shahid Khan, St. Louis Rams, Steve McNair, Steve Tasker, Super Bowl, Tennessee Titans, Titans, Wayne Weaver, Wildcard, Will Witherspoon, WJZM 1400 AM, WTVF NewsChannel 5
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