JOE BIDDLE: Titans run the ball down Jags' throat - WKRN News 2

JOE BIDDLE: Titans run the ball down Jags' throat

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George Wilson, Safety, Titans George Wilson, Safety, Titans

Christmas came early for the Titans.

In desperate search for a win, any win, the Titans found it in Jacksonville. Why not? It's a city former Titans coach Jeff Fisher once called the Titans' second home.

The Jags had logged only one win at home this season, but the Titans had to fight from behind to earn their sixth win against nine losses.

This one was for pride. And for once the Titans played a game where they showed more toughness, a game in which they had to overcome a 14-point deficit to capture a 20-16 feel good game.

"The beginning wasn't what we had hoped for, but we worked through it,'' said Titans Coach Mike Munchak.

"The second half was finally the way we wanted to play. It was great to see it happen.''

The Titans finally ran the ball behind an offensive line that has been maligned all season. They ran hard after first contact, picking up crucial first downs.

Backup running back Shonn Greene and starter Chris Johnson proved to be a combination the Jags could not handle.

Greene posted 91 yards on 19 carries and what would be the winning touchdown. He averaged 4.8 yards a carry. Starter Chris Johnson picked up 90 yards on 22 trips. He averaged 4.1 yards a carry compared to his 3.7 yards per carry average coming into this game.

The Titans entered the game ranked No. 20 in the league in rushing yards per game averaging 111.5 yards. They rang up 182 yards on the Jaguars, who dipped to 4-11 overall and 1-7 at home.

Once the Titans passed the Jaguars, the defense had to make some clutch plays down the stretch to preserve the win. The final drive by the Jaguars was stopped when safety George Wilson picked off a Chad Henne pass late in the game.

Veteran Bernard Pollard made another key defensive play when he blocked a point after attempt in the first half after a Jags touchdown.

The Titans defense gave up only a field goal in the second half as the team won for only the third time since September. It eventually forced the Jaguars to go for a touchdown instead of a field goal.

The Titans can now close with a modest two-game win streak Sunday against Houston at LP Field. Houston has already fired Coach Gary Kubiak. Titans CEO Tommy Smith has said Munchak's future will be decided after the final game.

It's not like Jacksonville was the same team that beat the Titans earlier in the season. They started five rookies on defense Sunday. Their top four wide receivers were unable to play in the rematch.

Although Sunday's game featured two bad teams, it was the Titans that finally showed the fire that has been missing on both sides of the ball. They ran the ball hard. The offensive line opened holes. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick played a more intelligent game by not being tempted to throw low percentage passes.

"He took advantage of coverages and matchups. Once we found out what we were doing well, we got in it and stuck with it,'' Munchak said. "When you start getting the run game going, it got everything going.

"We were down 10 and on the road. It was a game that could have gone the other way,'' Munchak said. "It didn't.''

Hold on to your seat, but the Titans were found guilty on a season low one penalty for four yards. Fitzpatrick had only one interception. It's those little things that win games, and against the Jaguars the Titans played it smart.

"Just winning a game and getting that feeling back in our mouth again,'' Fitzpatrick said about what he took from this game.

"The guys up front stepped up and did a great job and the running backs stepped up and ran hard.''

They need to take some more of the frustration this season has produced out on the hapless Texans next Sunday. It will be a good way to start the New Year and put this disaster in their rear view mirror.

"It was ups and downs,'' Munchak said. "We're not happy with the season, but we can go out with two division wins. We got one today.''

Contact wkrn.com Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at joebiddle11@gmail.com.

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