Failing to take advantage of a rare Indianapolis loss, the Titans bid to share first place with the division-leading Colts was thwarted by Jacksonvilles powerful running game in yesterdays 28-13 defeat to the Jags. As a result of the loss, the Titans (6-3) are now tied with Jacksonville for 2nd place in the AFC South division.
Albert Haynesworths absence opened up huge holes for Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor as the Jags rushed for 166 yards against the leagues #1 ranked run defense. Jacksonvilles ability to run the football consistently led to time-consuming drives that culminated with Jaguar touchdowns.
The tone of the game was set on the Jaguars initial possession as their strong rushing attack powered its way to a 13 play, 80 yard drive that consumed over seven and a half minutes, ending in a Quinn Gray 2 yard touchdown pass to Greg Jones. The inability of the Titans defense to get off of the field led to two other Jaguar scoring drives that consumed at least five minutes of game time.
Entering yesterdays contest, the Titans had utilized the combination of an effective running game and a stingy defense as the basis for their 6-2 record during the first half of the season. Yesterday, in addition to the struggles of the defense, the running game was also an area where the team failed to perform up to its usual standards. LenDale Whites day ended early as a result of a knee injury but while he was on the field, the pudgy back was only able to accumulate a measly 12 yards on 8 carries.
The failures of the defense and the running game forced the Titans into the uncomfortable predicament of having to rely on their passing game to get them back into the contest. Vince Young was able to throw for 257 yards while completing a season-high 24 passes. Justin Gage had a solid performance catching the football, hauling in 7 receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown. Despite the mild success of the passing game, the Titans were unable to escape the clutches of defeat.
The 2007 Tennessee Titans recipe for success consists of three key ingredients: strong defense, a heavy dose of the running game and only a dash of throwing the football. On Sunday, the Titans uncharacteristically gave up a ton of yards on the ground, failed to establish an effective running game and relied too much on the right arm of Vince Young. The inability of the Titans' to follow the instructions of its normal recipe played a big part in yesterday's loss to Jacksonville.