No Fluke for Tennessee

When the Titans beat the Jaguars on opening day last season, many believed that the Jaguars just had a bad day and middle linebacker Mike Peterson was repeatedly fooled by counter-draw plays. There must have been more to it. Find out the delight Albert Haynesworth has in putting Jacksonville out of the playoffs.

In the opener, the Titans couldn't throw the football effectively, and they probably weren't the better team despite the victory. In last year's rematch, the Titans were without Albert Haynesworth, and their defense was unable to stop the run as the Jaguars won easily.

In this season's opener, the Jaguars had two offensive linemen go down and they couldn't run or throw the ball effectively against the Titans powerful defensive line. There were still plenty of questions about the Titans, and many thought it was just another bad day for Jacksonville.

In Sunday's rematch, the Titans left their mark on Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in the second half, as they thoroughly dominated a Jaguars team in every conceivable way. The Jacksonville offensive line could no longer move the Titans, who were in a cover one defense for much of the game, and the Jaguars secondary was out of position on two deep passes to Justin Gage.

"We settled down," Titans Pro Bowl defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth said of his Titans second half defensive adjustments. "They were on an emotional high, and we just wanted to come out and play our game. Once we cut out the nonsense and stopped giving them things, they couldn't move the ball on us."

The Jaguars strategy of running the ball against a cover one defense was about as effective as running head first into a wall without a helmet. When they dropped back to throw, quarterback David Garrard was either inaccurate or under a heavy rush.

"They definitely turned their energy level up and I don't think we matched it," said Jaguars quarterback David Garrard. "They started doing a great job of not being in the defenses that we had scouted and so some of our plays were geared toward a particular coverage or a particular look and they weren't getting into it like we expected them to. So it made it tough on us."

Throughout the first half of the season when the Jaguars were sporting a 3-5 record, players and coaches alike were quick to point out that the team had been in every game and could've easily been 8-0. That type of false confidence was something that may have hurt this team and that begins with their leadership.

Jaguars fans were able to see a team on Sunday who is a real contender, who played physical football with a quarterback who can make big throws, and has legitimate confidence thanks to their perfect record.

"They played great," Garrard said. When you have the confidence of being 9-0, you know what to do when the situation gets tough and they did it. They definitely stepped up."

The Tennessee Titans and head coach Jeff Fisher have been a thorn in the Jacksonville's sides ever since the 1999 season, when they accounted for each of the Jaguars three losses. They were a better team then, and there's no doubt they're a better team now. The Titans ended the Jaguars season in January of 2000, and they effectively ended it Sunday.

"Hopefully, with this win we can knock Jacksonville out of this," Haynesworth said. "That was the whole key with this game, to put the nail in the coffin with Jacksonville and get them out of the playoffs and for us just to keep moving."

The Jaguars now have a 4-6 record, and what's most disturbing about it may be their 1-4 home mark. Fred Taylor may have summed it up best—

"You have got to give them credit. They came out and played their style of ball. They're 10-0, they deserve to be 10-0. We're 4-6 and we deserve to be 4-6 at this point."


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