JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Sunshine State was a gloomy spot for Tennessee and Jacksonville last week.
The Titans and Jaguars combined for a measly three field goals in lopsided losses to Tampa Bay and San Francisco, respectively. Tennessee managed 209 yards in a 20-6 loss the Buccaneers and fell to 0-5 on the road this season. Jacksonville finished with a season-low 221 yards in a 34-3 drubbing to the 49ers at home, where the team dropped to 1-3.
Both will be looking for more offensive production — and a much better result — when they meet at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville on Sunday.
“It stings a little bit, but all you can do is just use it as motivation,” Jaguars receiver Christian Kirk said. “We have enough veterans in this locker room to know this league isn’t easy. It should hurt; you should be embarrassed. You just use it as motivation to move on and get one week better.”
The Jaguars (6-3) failed to score a touchdown at home for the second time this season. They committed four turnovers and gave up way too many big plays. Although it came against a 49ers team coming off a bye and desperate to end a three-game skid, the Jags expect it to be just a down week and not a downturn as they chase their second AFC South title in as many years.
“Don’t lose confidence,” Kirk said. “We’re still a good football team. We’re still a team that won five games in a row, and nobody should forget about that because that’s not easy.”
Added fellow receiver Calvin Ridley: “Everyone’s going crazy. We’ve lost three games. That’s it. You know what I’m saying? We’re going to be all right.”
The Titans (3-6) are trying to avoid their first three-game skid in the series since the 2005-06 seasons. More importantly, they’re hoping to stay within striking distance of the division lead.
Tennessee has five AFC South games remaining, providing coaches and players with a clear path to the playoffs. It starts in Jacksonville – and back in Florida seven days after the debacle against the Buccaneers.
“It’s a big one,” rookie quarterback Will Levis said. “As far as we see it, it’s still wide open.”
Maybe so, but the Titans need to play better than they have on the road this season. They haven’t topped 16 points away from home, and turnovers and sacks have been the main culprits.
“There will be mistakes, but we just can’t have the repeated, critical ones,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “So, whether physically or mentally, it all goes into your performance. You have to have an idea of what the play is, what your job is, what your responsibility is, who you need to communicate with, what those details are, and then physically go execute.”
RED ZONE WOES
The Titans are next-to-last scoring touchdowns inside the red zone, and settling for too many field goals on the road has been a big part of that problem. They’ve scored exactly two touchdowns in five road games.
“When you have a defense like we have, we’re in every game,” right guard Daniel Brunskill said. “And so we’ve got to do something on offense to help those guys out and (put) us in a better situation.”
With veteran returner Jamal Agnew (shoulder) sidelined against the Titans and probably longer, the Jaguars will turn to fifth-round draft pick Parker Washington to fill the role.
Washington, a rookie from Penn State, injured a knee on his first and only special teams play of the season. He was on injured reserve the last six weeks, but will be activated in time to play Sunday.
“This is an exciting opportunity,” he said. “To be able to help our team win on Sunday, shoot, I’m ready to attack. Let’s get it. That’s the mindset. Next man up. Got to be ready. I was just down and now I've got to step up no matter if I had practice time or not.”
Tennessee has gone a full year without winning away from Nashville, including a loss in London that was technically a “home game” for the Titans.
They are 0-5 (not counting the loss in to Baltimore in London) and have dropped eight straight dating to Nov. 17, 2022, and a win at Green Bay.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl