On a steamy September day in Jacksonville, the Tennessee Titans scored what at the time was an upset. Beating a team that the previous week had pounded the New England Patriots in a highly ballyhooed rematch of last year's AFC title game, Tennessee edged the Jacksonville Jaguars 9-6.
It was one of a number of confounding outcomes for the Titans, who own wins over Super Bowl champion Philadelphia and Super Bowl loser New England, but also have mixed in an awful road loss to Buffalo and a no-show 21-0 home defeat to Baltimore in which Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota absorbed 11 sacks.
A season of inconsistency has left the Titans (6-6) needing a hot finish and a little help to earn a second consecutive playoff appearance. They need a Thursday night home win against Jacksonville (4-8) to keep their playoff hopes off life support.
Tennessee nearly turned the upcoming game into a battle of irrelevants, but it rallied from a 16-0, second-quarter deficit to edge the New York Jets 26-22 Sunday. Mariota completed the comeback by hitting Corey Davis for an 11-yard touchdown pass with 36 seconds left.
"I'd rather him not have to do it, but if we have to, that has been really fun to watch," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said of Mariota's eighth game-winning drive in the past two years. "It is exciting to have him be able to do that."
Mariota has thrown for nearly 600 yards in the past two games, but the Jaguars' defense likely will provide a stiffer challenge than the Houston Texans and the Jets did. While Jacksonville had lost seven in a row before Sunday, its defense remains salty.
To wit: a 6-0 shutout Sunday of an Indianapolis Colts team that was making some real playoff noise behind a rejuvenated Andrew Luck, who had thrown at least three TD passes in each of his previous eight games. The Jaguars limited him to 248 yards on 33-of-52 passing, sacking him three times and forcing two turnovers.
"It feels great to get in the win column," Jacksonville defensive end Calais Campbell said. "It's been way too long."
The Jaguars' offense had little to do with the win, though, managing only 211 total yards and 11 first downs in quarterback Cody Kessler's first start after replacing the benched Blake Bortles. Jacksonville will need more from Kessler this week, although it will get running back Leonard Fournette back from a one-game suspension.
In Fournette's absence last week, the Jaguars gained just 79 yards on 27 carries.
--Field Level Media
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