As bad as the Jaguars looked in their home opener, a 31-17 defeat at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals, was as good as the team looked on Sunday as they pummelled the Tennessee Titans, 37-17, in a game that was decided prior to halftime.
"We're pleased to finish off the first quarter of our season with a divisional win here at home," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said.
After the Jaguars defense forced a three and out, the Jacksonville offense was able to score on their opening drive for the third consecutive game as they moved down the field swiftly against the Titans defense which was missing both Jason Jones and Cortland Finnegan. Jacksonville moved 60 yards in eight plays before being stopped in the red zone. The Jaguars settled for a Josh Scobee 22-yard field goal to put the team up 3-0.
The Jacksonville crowd, energized by a 34-yard Mike Thomas punt return, was able to stay excited as the Jaguars used the short field to their advantage as they went 35 yards to paydirt in just three plays. A 10-yard run by Greg Jones, set up a short slant to Mike Sims-Walker who broke tackles to get down to the nine-yard line. Maurice Jones-Drew did the rest of the work as he went in untouched from nine yards to put the Jags up 10-0.
"We were real sharp early when we jumped on them a little bit," Del Rio said.
The Jaguars defense was the story of the game early on, as they forced three and outs on the Titans initial three possessions, and Tennessee did not gain a first down until the end of the first period.
"The run defense felt good in crucial situations, we were pretty stout when we had to be," Del Rio said of the Jaguars defense.
As the second quarter began, the Titans started to find their sea legs on offense, as Kerry Collins moved the team into Jacksonville territory for the first time, and then into the red zone. The drive bogged down at the 11-yard line, as Jaguars rookie corner Derek Cox made a nice open-field tackle on Titans receiver Nate Washington on third down. The Titans were forced to settle for a Rod Bironas 29-yard field goal to trim the Jaguars lead to 10-3.
The Titans momentum was short-lived as the Jaguars once again went on the offensive. A personal foul penalty on the ensuing kickoff gave Jacksonville starting field position at the Tennessee 46-yard line, and quarterback David Garrard hit Maurice Jones-Drew with a short slant, then followed it up with a 29-yard pitch and catch to Ernest Wilford, then finally Mike Sims-Walker broke a pair of tackles and scored on a nine-yard slant to put the Jags up 17-3 midway through the second quarter.
The Jaguars offense kept pouring it on after the defense forced another Titans three and out. Jacksonville moved down the field again at a steady pace before the drive stalled at the Tennessee 32-yard line. Josh Scobee then drilled a 50-yard field goal that went through the top of the uprights to put the team up 20-3.
Just two plays into the Titans ensuing drive, Jaguars safety Gerald Alexander forced a Chris Johnson fumble and safety Reggie Nelson pounced on the football just before it went out of bounds. The Jacksonville offense then put the final nail in the Titans coffin as they moved down the field behind the arm and legs of David Garrard, and the drive was capped off by an acrobatic 15-yard touchdown reception from Mike Sims-Walker, his second of the game and his third of the season. The 27 points in the first half was the most for the Jaguars since 2007.
The Jaguars ultimately put the game away early on, and kept pouring it on in the second half. The offensive line gave quarterback David Garrard all day to throw, as Jaguars veteran tackles Tra Thomas and Maurice Williams were inserted into the starting lineup because of injuries to both rookies Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton.
"Tra Thomas stepped in when Eugene was too sick to go," Del Rio said. "We had to send Eugene home, he was unable to play."
Garrard completed 27 of 37 passes for 323 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Mike Sims-Walker had a career day as he caught seven passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Tight end Marcedes Lewis caught four passes for 76 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown. Everyone's favorite fantasy back, Maurice Jones-Drew had a tough day on the ground as he ran for just 14 yards on six carries, but found the end zone early in the first quarter.
With the victory, the Jaguars move to 2-2 and have a new lease on life as they travel to Seattle next Sunday looking to go over .500 for the first time since 2007.