Jaguars reach playoffs with timely defense, just enough offense against Titans

Jaguars reach playoffs with timely defense, just enough offense against Titans

11:35 ET

Turron Davenport

CloseESPN Covered Eagles for USA Today Covered the Ravens for Baltimore Times Played college football at Cheyney University

Michael DiRocco

Close ESPN Staff Writer Covered University of Florida for 13 seasons for and Florida Times-Union Multiple APSE Award Winner Graduate of Jacksonville University

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Rayshawn Jenkins and Josh Allen lead the Jacksonville Jaguars back to the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

A defense that had been hammered all night finally came up with the big play: Jenkins’ strip sack of Tennessee Titans quarterback Joshua Dobbs and Allen’s 37-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown finally gave the Jaguars lead with 2:51 to play. That gave the Jaguars (9-8) the AFC South title with a 20-16 victory and sent them to the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

The Jaguars defense made two big plays earlier in the second half — Tyson Campbell’s interception to set up a field goal and Roy Robertson-Harris’ sack to thwart another Titans drive — but could only muster three points. The defense finally came up big when it mattered most.

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Jenkins was untouched on a snap and hit Dobbs in the arm just before he released the football. Allen put it on a soft bounce and went untouched into the end zone. It was the team’s 27th forced turnover of the season. They have scored 111 points off those turnovers, which is tied with the New England Patriots for the most in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats and Information research.

It was Jenkins’ second save for the Jaguars this season. He intercepted Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and returned it for a touchdown in overtime to beat the Cowboys on December 18.

It was the fourth time the Jaguars have rallied to win in the fourth quarter. They also trailed the Baltimore Ravens, Las Vegas Raiders and Cowboys.



Jaguars pull within three as Christian Kirk pulls in a fumble.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Disturbing trend: The Jaguars turned the ball over on a botched trick play — Trevor Lawrence’s pitch to Jamal Agnew was high — and it was the team’s 13th turnover of the season, tied with the Indianapolis Colts for most mostly in season. NFL. Lawrence was tagged with his NFL-leading ninth loss of the season.

“Obviously we’re going to highlight it,” coach Doug Pederson said this week about the turnovers. “We have to protect the football. Like every week, you try to create advantages, but you also have to keep the football. We all understand the magnitude of what turnovers can do in games like this.”

QB fumble: Lawrence missed two potential touchdowns with a turnover and a fumble. Lawrence overthrew an open Zay Jones in the end zone. According to NFL NextGen Stats, Jones had 10.2 yards of separation from the nearest defender. Lawrence was under pressure on the play, but the turnover forced the Jaguars to settle for a field goal to cut the Titans’ lead to 13-10.

On a third-and-three play early in the fourth quarter, Lawrence overthrew Christian Kirk in the front corner of the end zone. He was subbed again when corner Roger McCreary was able to reach Kirk, who had a step, and break up the pass. That forced the Jaguars to settle for another field goal to cut the Titans’ lead to 16-13. That possession began with Tyson Campbell’s interception of a pass by Dobbs. A touchdown in either situation would have given the Jaguars the lead and put the pressure on the Titans.

Shop at…Jamal Agnew: The Jaguars’ returner had a big day, with 125 yards on four kickoff returns and 33 yards on two punt returns. He started a stagnant Jaguars offense with a 54-yard punt return that set the Jaguars up at midfield. That turned into the Jaguars’ only offensive touchdown. This makes up for the disruption earlier in the game. Agnew has come close to breaking several touchdown returns in the last month, and now he’ll have at least one more week to try to get one. — Michael DiRocco



Derrick Henry forces a Jaguars defender to the ground on a run near the sideline.

The Tennessee Titans

The Titans’ loss ended the season and cost Tennessee the AFC South Division title. The Titans led for most of the game, but two late turnovers doomed them. Tennessee’s defense held the Jaguars to three yards on seven plays in the fourth quarter, not counting the two times Jacksonville turned the ball down to run down the clock.

Tennessee’s seven-game losing streak coupled with the Jaguars’ five-game winning streak was the difference in the season. The Jaguars swept the Titans for the first time since 2014.

Describe the game in two words: Nail biter. OK, maybe that’s a word. But the Titans lost their sixth one-score game of the year despite holding the lead late in the fourth quarter.

Disturbing trend: Rookie cornerback Roger McCreary gave up another touchdown, bringing his season total to seven. This time Christian Kirk beat McCreary for the score. He should have had safety help up top, but Joshua Kalu was late to the party. McCreary nearly gave up another touchdown when he was caught in traffic, and Zay Jones was wide open in the back of the end zone. Fortunately for McCreary, Trevor Lawrence ran over Jones and the Jaguars had to settle for a field goal.

QB breakdown: Dobbs finished with 20 completions on 29 pass attempts for 179 yards, one touchdown and one interception. In just his second start, Dobbs performed well against the blitz, completing seven of nine passes for 73 yards and a TD in the first half. But a Rayshawn Jenkins fumble in the fourth quarter led to a Dobbs fumble that was returned for a touchdown. At one point, Dobbs completed nine straight passes, including a very nice throw to Austin Hooper on an incredible third-down route. Dobbs also made a perfect throw to Chigoziem Okonkwo for a touchdown. — Turron Davenport

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