Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars embarrass Titans for third loss in a row

In their first game since firing GM Jon Robinson, the Titans floundered in an embarrassing 36-22 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, marking the Jaguars’ first win in Nashville since 2013 and handing the Titans (7-6) their first three-game losing streak since 2018. With the loss, the Titans are no longer unbeaten in AFC South games this season but still hold a two-game lead in the division.

Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence carved his way through the Titans’ defense, throwing three touchdowns and running for another. He set a career high with 368 passing yards. The Titans offense looked poised to keep up with Lawrence early, with running back Derrick Henry rushing for 96 yards in the first quarter and quarterback Ryan Tannehill fitting pass after pass into tight windows. But four turnovers, three in the first half, sunk all offensive progress and the defense crumbled with the more opportunities the Jaguars got.

Henry finished with 121 rushing yards, his sixth 100-yard game of the season. Tannehill threw for 254 yards and two scores, guiding the Titans downfield twice in the fourth quarter and nearly cutting the deficit to one score before a turnover on downs just before the two-minute warning.

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The turnover battle

The Titans’ offense worked in the first half. Henry had 119 rushing yards. Tannehill was 12-for-16 with 120 yards. The offense averaged more than 7 yards per play and only punted once. The Titans had more yards in one half against the Jaguars than they did all game the previous week against the Philadelphia Eagles.

But all those gains were offset by three costly turnovers through two quarters. Tannehill was strip-sacked in the first quarter, threw an interception in the second quarter and Henry fumbled after a second-quarter reception near the red zone. Those three turnovers turned into 17 Jaguars points. Instead of capitalizing on their best offensive half in weeks, the Titans went into halftime trailing 20-14.

Defensive injuries loom large

As has been the case all season, another Titans opponent abandoned the run early in favor of throwing against a Titans defense that’s been on the field for more pass plays than any other unit in the NFL. Lawrence had good reason to challenge the Titans’ secondary, though. Starting cornerbacks Kristian Fulton and Tre Avery missed Sunday’s game, as did inside linebacker David Long Jr.

Long’s absence played a big role as the Jaguars sliced the Titans over the middle with tight end Evan Engram, who caught 11 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Cornerbacks Roger McCreary and Terrance Mitchell did a better job of guarding the Jaguars’ outside receivers, but Lawrence benefitted once from McCreary’s misfortune, completing a touchdown to Zay Jones right before halftime on a tipped pass that ricocheted off McCreary’s hands.

How the game was lost

The Titans led and had the ball with three minutes left in the first half, but let the game slip away in the minutes that followed. Henry fumbled in plus territory, giving the Jaguars the ball to drive for Jones’ touchdown. The Jags got the ball first in the second half and went 79 yards for a touchdown. The Titans lost 20 yards on a three-and-out after the Jaguars touchdown, then the Jaguars drove for another touchdown after the punt. The next Titans drive? Three plays, no yards, another punt.

Jacksonville sustained long drives with a dominant, accurate passing attack and destroyed the Titans’ offensive goodwill with an active pass rush. After Henry’s fumble, the Jaguars outscored the Titans 23-8.

Nick Suss is the Titans beat writer for The Tennessean. Contact Nick at nsuss@gannett.com. Follow Nick on Twitter @nicksuss.

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