The Jaguars largely stopped Derrick Henry on Sunday. The team’s Achilles heel since he entered the league was held to just 84 yards on 25 carries.
It still wasn’t enough.
Jacksonville (1-1) fell to the Titans (2-0) 33-30 on a last minute, 49-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski. The Jaguars did have a chance in the end, but Gardner Minshew’s second-down pass was batted down and picked off. The Jaguars have not won in Nashville since 2013.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill had a career day in the Titans’ home opener, completing 18 of 24 passes for 239 yards and four touchdowns. Two of those touchdowns went to tight end Jonnu Smith, who had a career high 84 yards.
"I think this game we [were] probably a little locked in a little bit too into the run, kind of bared our eyes and kind of worked out late to work against the pass," veteran defensive tackle Abry Jones said post-game. "But I think that's just how it is with every game. I think moving forward we're going to try to focus on that more because I really think that was a real big part of the game. I think our DBs do a good job but we just can't leave them out there covering for about six to ten seconds, so we've got to do a better job getting off those blocks."
"We made some mistakes early in this game. We made some mistakes throughout," head coach Doug Marrone said. "We did some good things, but at the end of the day we fell short."
Little things added up by game’s end.
On the Jaguars’ third drive of the game, with the offense humming, Gardner Minshew took a 20-yard sack. The Jaguars would eventually be forced to punt. With less than a minute to go in the first half -- and after his field goal made it an 11-point game -- Josh Lambo flubbed an onside kick. The Titans capitalized on their new-found field position and cashed in on a field goal before the half to go up by two touchdowns once more. The always reliable Lambo would later miss an extra point. A questionable, pass-interference call on third-down against safety Josh Jones kept a Titans’ drive alive that otherwise would’ve ended right then and there.
On the Titans’ final drive, on third-down, Myles Jack was called for defensive pass interference. No call, and the Titans would most likely not have been in field goal range.
"They told me that it was a hold, that when the ball went in the air it turned into a defensive pass interference," Marrone said when asked of Jack's DPI penalty. "I couldn't see early on in the route, and I had a bad view of it from where I was. But the back judge should have a great view of it."
“Jaguars in Nashville” juju at its finest.
There were bright spots, too -- especially on offense.
After the opening drive ended with a tipped interception, Gardner Minshew responded with a career day. He was 30 of 45 for 339 yards with three touchdowns.
"You see their resilience when we're in there. But we also learned that we've got to start faster," Minshew said post-game. "We don't need to be getting down 13 in the first place. I think if we jump out and play every quarter like we played that fourth, we're going to be a really, really good football team."
Rookie running back James Robinson continued to impress, running for 102 yards on 16 carries. Classmate Laviska Shenault continued his electric debut, totaling 62 total-yards. Tyler Eifert and Keelan Cole also caught touchdowns for Jacksonville.
The Jaguars have a quick turnaround, as they host the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night at 8:20 p.m.