No Garrard, No Problem

The Jaguars acquired some retribution in Tennessee Sunday, as they physically dominated the Titans en route to a 28-13 victory.

The Jaguars defense forced the Titans into three turnovers, and held the Titans third-ranked rushing offense to just 62 yards on the ground, despite playing without Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcus Stroud. The Jaguars defense forced the Tennessee offense to be one-dimensional, and with Titans quarterback Vince Young forced to pass, he was mostly inaccurate completing just 24 of 41 passes for 257 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions. Young finished with a quarterback rating of 64.8.

The Jaguars set a physical tone for the game early on, as they took their first offensive possession 80 yards on 13 plays, highlighted by a two-yard touchdown pass from Quinn Gray to Greg Jones, his first of two touchdowns on the day. That first Jaguars drive encompassed 7 minutes and 31 seconds. Jacksonville went up 14-0 on their third drive of the afternoon, as they took the ball 53 yards on 13 plays while starting on a short field. Maurice Jones-Drew capped the drive with an eight-yard touchdown run.

The Jaguars took a 14-3 lead into the half, and never really looked back. The Jaguars only scare came early in the fourth quarter when the Titans cut the Jaguars lead to 21-13 on a Vince Young touchdown pass to Justin Gage, who beat Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis and then took a punishing hit from safety Reggie Nelson which caused him to bobble the ball, and then recover it while laying on the ground. After that score, the Jaguars responded with a touchdown drive of their own, and the defense forced the Titans into three scoreless possessions including two turnovers.

The Jaguars defense allowed Tennessee just 101 yards of total offense in the first half, and forced three turnovers in the second half, while sacking the elusive Vince Young four times. Linebacker Mike Peterson led the team with 9.5 tackles and an interception, and defensive end Reggie Hayward had his best game of the season, as he notched three tackles, 2.5 sacks, and a forced fumble. Brian Williams locked down Titans receivers all day long as he allowed just one completion in front of him, and he ended the game by intercepting Vince Young with less than two minutes left in the game.

Although it was the stifling Jaguars defense that keyed the victory, the story on offense was the Jaguars running game. The Titans entered the contest as the number one team in the NFL at stopping the run, allowing an average of just 66 yards per game. The Jaguars were able to run the ball 44 times for 166 yards against a Titans defense that was missing Albert Haynesworth, who was inactive with a hamstring injury. Running back Fred Taylor eclipsed the 10,000 yard mark for his career early in the first quarter, en route to a 16 carry, 45 yard rushing performance that included his first touchdown of the season.

Maurice Jones-Drew became the first running back to go over 100 yards against the Titans this season, as he turned in a 19 carry, 101 yard effort which included one touchdown. Jones-Drew was also the Jaguars leading receiver as he caught three passes for 28 yards. The Jaguars passing game was an adventure as quarterback Quinn Gray was very good at times, and at times was nearly disastrous. Gray finished with 13 completions in 23 attempts, for 101 yards and one touchdown. Gray's passer rating was 82.0.

With this important road victory, the Jaguars better their record to 6-3, now tied for second place in the AFC South with the Titans. The Jaguars finished their three-game road trip with a 2-1 record, and will likely have starting quarterback David Garrard ready to go next Sunday. More importantly, the Jaguars are in the driver's seat for a wildcard position with the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs both losing on Sunday.



Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Jagnation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, MySpace Sports and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.

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