Controversy thwarts Jaguars comeback bid vs Titans

Photo by Steve Roberts (USA Today Sports)

By Dustin Fletcher

Sunday, the Jaguars lost to the Tennessee Titans by a score of 33-30. Expectations were high after a week one surprise victory against the Indianapolis Colts. The Jaguars lost for their seventh straight year in Nashville. Same old, same old. However, this one felt different.

Generally, the Jaguars are beaten handily by the Titans in Nashville every year. However, this time, the Jaguars arguably should have won this game. Gardner Minshew threw 45 times for 339 yards and three touchdowns, amongst two flukey interceptions. James Robinson rushed for over 100 yards and a touchdown. He was also efficient, averaging well over five yards per carry. 

Derrick Henry rushed 25 times for just 84 yards, and his longest run was only 14 yards. The Jaguars are holding to their promise to stop the run, and they passed that test with flying colors in week two. 

While that aspect of the game felt different, allowing a quarterback to throw all over them has been the norm all too often since the team traded star cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Ryan Tannehill threw for four touchdowns and 239 yards on just 24 attempts. Jonnu Smith had two touchdowns. Corey Davis had a touchdown. Adam Humphries had a touchdown. The Jags were beaten time and time again through the air. Once the tide started to turn in the Jaguars’ favor on defense, penalties did them in time and time again. In the first half, the Titans were driving, and took a shot on third and four to tight end Jonnu Smith. Josh Jones was close in coverage and there was hand-fighting both ways. There was clear confusion by Jones, the Jaguars coaching staff and the announcers on the game’s call alike. The NFL had told officials before the season not to call a pass interference call with pushing going both ways. They called it here, and the Titans capitalized.

The common theme of this game was the Titans capitalizing on opportunities in front of them, and the Jaguars too often did not do that. The Jaguars had scored to make the score 21-10 before half time, but they inexplicably called a squib kick rather than a normal kickoff, and it hit off of a Titans’ helmet. The Titans expanded their lead by three more, which turned out to be a costly three points. However, like the early pass interference, not all things against the Jaguars were in their control. In a call similar to the pass interference in the first half, Myles Jack (poor Myles, the officials really seem to hate him) the Jaguars stopped the Titans on third and five with 1:57 on the clock in the fourth quarter. The game was tied at 30 a-piece. The Jaguars had three timeouts to spare. Jack broke up the pass, and while he had one arm around the receiver to gain leverage for his other arm, that is not a penalty unless the receiver’s body is significantly turned by the defender’s arm. Spoiler, it wasn’t. However, the officials made the call, and yet again, the Titans capitalized. The last controversy came on the final play of the game for the Jaguars offense. Gardner Minshew dropped back to pass and the pass was deflected at the line by Tennessee’s second year defensive tackle Jefferey Simmons and intercepted. However, a replay showed that Jadaveon Clowney was clearly lined up in the neutral zone, and the play should have never happened, with the Jaguars gaining a free five yards. Instead, the game was over. The Jaguars lost in week two. 

This one hurt much more, in a game that felt like it should have seen the Jaguars move to 2-0 atop of the AFC South, but instead they sit at 1-1 in second behind the undefeated Titans. 

The Jaguars can move to 2-1 on Thursday, though, when they play the Miami Dolphins in a primetime game.

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