Titans finish season sweep over Jaguars with 41-14 win
Posted: Sunday December 26, 1999 08:20 PM
Making a huge point: With Steve McNair at the controls, the Titans offense demolished the NFL's second-best defense. AP
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- If the Jacksonville Jaguars wanted to prove they are ready for the playoffs, they failed miserably. The Tennessee Titans seem to be peaking at just the right time.
Steve McNair threw a career-high five touchdown passes to five receivers, and the Tennessee Titans routed the Jacksonville Jaguars 41-14 Sunday, keeping alive their hopes for their first AFC Central Division title since 1993.
"Frankly, we showed what type of team we're capable of being," Titans cornerback Marcus Robertson said. "We showed our dominance today."
Jacksonville (13-2) came in with the NFL's longest winning streak this year at 11 games, but only two victories came against a team with a winning record, and Baltimore didn't get above .500 until Sunday.
With a chance to clinch its second straight divisional title and a first-round bye, the Jaguars looked lifeless against the Titans, who beat the Jaguars for the second time and now trail Jacksonville in the division by a game with one remaining. The Jaguars still can win the AFC Central, but must beat Cincinnati next week, while Tennessee visits Pittsburgh.
"Everybody's seeing, 'Hey, this is a good team, and when they play at home they're hard to beat,'" Titans linebacker Joe Bowden.
Jacksonville coach Tom Coughlin said his team just didn't show up and called it a big concern. Defensive end Reagan Upshaw said it was a nightmare.
"I'm more worried about us as a team," receiver Jimmy Smith said. "We've just got to do some soul-searching. Yes, it is a wakeup call."
The former Oilers are having one of their best seasons, having never been 12-3 before in their 40-year history. They also will play host to at least one home playoff game at Adelphia Coliseum, where they are 8-0 this season.
Tennessee, who made a habit of starting fast this season, did it again Sunday against the league's stingiest defense.
Jacksonville had been trying to top the 1986 Chicago Bears' record of fewest points allowed in a 16-game season, only to see it fall apart in the first half. The Jaguars hadn't given up more than 24 points in a single game this season, and they did that in the first half in falling behind 24-7.
The Titans held the ball for more than 20 minutes in the first half and piled up 278 yards. They scored on their first three possessions as McNair capped long drives with TD tosses of 4 and 62 yards, and Al Del Greco added his first of two field goals.
"A lot of teams have been daring us to throw the football this year, and we haven't been successful," said McNair, who had thrown only one TD pass in his previous seven games. "We've been struggling offensively .... We wanted to come out and prove a point."
Tennessee finished with season-high in points and total offense with 476 yards.
Eddie George became the first to top 100 yards against Jacksonville this season as he carried 26 times for 102 yards. McNair was 23-of-33 for 291 through three quarters.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg for Steve," said George. "He's going to have more days like this, and I'm very proud of him."
The Jaguars looked ready to match Tennessee in their opening drive.
They marched down the field, but Titans cornerback Samari Rolle, whose interception preserved Tennessee's 20-19 victory in Jacksonville in September, picked off Mark Brunell's pass in the end zone. Jacksonville then went three-and-out on its next two possessions.
Brunell keyed the Jaguars' first TD drive late in the second quarter by hitting Jimmy Smith with a 62-yard pass, and Fred Taylor scored on a 1-yard run to pull Jacksonville to 17-7 with 2:54 left. But Brunell strained his left knee on an incomplete pass the play before Taylor's TD and did not return. He was 4-of-11 for 95 yards.
Tennessee then got a big assist from the instant replay system with 1:21 remaining in the half. Jackie Harris was ruled down before being stripped of the football. McNair found Yancey Thigpen on a 2-yard TD toss five plays later for a 24-7 lead.
Jay Fiedler wasn't much better in replacing Brunell. He was sacked three times and was 8-of-22 for 101 yards.
Notes: The Titans now are 7-0 when they score on the opening drive. ... George became only the fourth running back in NFL history to rush for at least 1,200 yards in each of his first four seasons with his fourth carry of the game, joining Earl Campbell, Eric Dickerson and Barry Sanders. ... Tennessee set a franchise attendance record in its first season at Adelphia Coliseum of 528,890, topping the 482,726 in 1991 in Houston. ... McNair's 62-yard TD pass to Jackie Harris in the second quarter was the longest play given up by the Jaguars this season. That also marked his longest TD pass since Dec. 1, 1996, a span of 50 games. His five TD passes were the most for the franchise since Warren Moon on Oct. 1, 1992. at Cincinnati, a span of 120 games. ... Titans cornerback Samari Rolle intercepted three passes, giving him four in his career and all against Jacksonville. It was the first three-interception game by a Tennessee player since Marcus Robertson at Cleveland on Nov. 21, 1993.
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