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Tennessee upsets Jaguars 20-19 behind O'Donnell
Posted: Sunday September 26, 1999 11:13 PM
Taking advantage of Jacksonville's fourth turnover, Neil O'Donnell threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Michael Roan with 3:26 left Sunday to lift the Titans to a rain-drenched 20-19 victory over the Jaguars.
Tennessee (3-0) came in as a 9-point underdog, but won its fourth game in five years at Jacksonville (2-1). It was Tennessee's ninth straight victory against AFC Central opponents, a win the Titans feel should give them some long-missing credibility.
"Jacksonville just didn't have any respect for us," said cornerback Samari Rolle. "That's what makes this win especially sweet. We've been in big games in the past that have been tight and it seems we always found a way to fall short."
Not this time.
After O'Donnell's touchdown pass gave Tennessee a 20-17 lead, Mark Brunell drove the Jaguars to the Titans 3. But the drive ended with 57 seconds left when Rolle outleaped a double-covered Keenan McCardell on third-and-goal for an interception in the corner of the end zone.
It was Brunell's third interception. Afterward, both Brunell and coach Tom Coughlin were grilled for trying for the touchdown when a field goal would have sent the game into overtime.
"I made a poor decision," Brunell said. "Throwing it out of the end zone would have been ideal. I should have just gotten rid of it and gone on to the next play."
Four plays after the final turnover, punter Craig Hentrich took an intentional safety to run out the clock and end the game.
"I feel like we've got something special going," said Titans coach Jeff Fisher. "I mean, I know it's still early, but man, they've got some fight in them."
They needed it after cornerback Aaron Beasley gave the Jaguars a 17-7 lead late in the third quarter, scoring on a 35-yard interception return.
The Jaguars blew the lead in the span of their next two possessions, the first of which resulted in a three-and-out and the second that ended in an interception.
O'Donnell finished 17-for-32 for 204 yards, including a 17 yarder to a wide-open Frank Wycheck on third-and-10 from the Jacksonville 29. On the next play, O'Donnell found Roan in the back of the end zone.
It gave the Titans a similar victory to the one they earned here last year, a 16-13 win in which they overcame an early 10-point deficit.
"You know they're never going to quit," Beasley said. "Last year, they did the same thing to us, in almost the same exact situation. We've just got to finish our games against them."
Eddie George had 57 yards on 18 carries for the Titans.
Neither Coughlin nor his team wanted to use the persistent rain as an excuse. Jacksonville beat San Francisco 41-3 here two weeks ago in similar conditions.
"Everyone loves to play the game outside because the weather can have an effect on the game," said Jaguars linebacker Lonnie Marts. "For those who play well and those who make the plays when they have to, the weather's not a factor."
It clearly was for Brunell and the rest of his mistake-prone offense. He finished 22-for-42 for 232 yards and one touchdown, but even the touchdown was a mistake.
His 11-yard touchdown to Smith came on a pass intended for McCardell. The ball went well over McCardell's head and into the hands of Smith, who was running a crossing route in the back of the end zone. The score gave the Jaguars a 10-7 lead late in the third.
Tennessee took a 7-3 lead on an 8-yard pass from O'Donnell to George, set up after former Jaguar Eddie Robinson recovered Stewart's fumble on the second play of the third quarter.
Stewart's longest run of the day was a 40-yarder that set up the only score of the first half, a 42-yard field goal by Mike Hollis.
The rest of the first half was a muddled mess. Brunell drove the Jaguars 59 yards to close the half, but a fake field-goal attempt failed when holder Bryan Barker was forced out at the Tennessee 2-yard line with his possible receiver, Rich Griffith, blanketed in triple coverage.
"On the film, it was wide open both ways," Barker said. "For some reason, they backed a couple of guys off and I thought I could make the run. Obviously, I couldn't."
Notes: Jaguars defensive lineman Renaldo Wynn left the game in the second quarter with an injured left ankle after Titans guard Scott Sanderson dove and rolled into the back of his leg. ... Titans tight end Jackie Harris left with a strained hamstring. ... Jaguars receiver Reggie Barlow left after suffering a concussion. ... Former Titan Lonnie Marts started at middle linebacker for Jacksonville and finished with five tackles. Former Titan Gary Walker had four tackles from his defensive tackle position.
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