It was really simple for the Tennessee Titans. Beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in Nashville and the 2017 NFL playoffs would become a reality. There were other scenarios in which the Titans could have made the playoffs but none of those were needed. Powered by an early second quarter Marcus Mariota to Derrick Henry 66 yard screen pass and two Ryan Succop field goals the Titans took a 12 to 3 lead into the locker room.
A big part of that was brought on by Jaguar turnovers right before half. On a punt return, Jacksonville’s super special team player Jaydon Mickens signaled for a fair catch then threw a block as the ball bounced off his leg and into a Titans hands. To add insult to that Mickens was flagged with a personal foul penalty. The Jaguars defense held the Titans to a field goal.
The next possession Jacksonville wide receiver Dede Westbrook caught a short pass over the middle only to have it punched out by Titan cornerback Adoree’ Jackson. The ball was again fallen on by Tennessee. Unable to push it into the end zone Succop’s third field goal split the uprights as the half ended.
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The Jaguars vaunted defense kept the game close until the Titans made some offensive mistakes of their own. Tennessee had just converted on a fourth and short and Titans looked poised to lock down that playoff birth when Mariota and Henry collided in the backfield causing a fumble. The ball was scooped up by defensive lineman Yannick Ngakoue and returned 67 yards for a touchdown. That narrowed the Titans margin to 5 points at 15 -10. The Jaguars would get no closer as free safety Kevin Byard sealed the win with his second interception of the game.
The upset win by the Cincinnati Bengals over the Baltimore Ravens knocked the Ravens out of the playoffs and the Titans up into the 5th seed. The Buffalo Bills get into the playoffs and will face Jacksonville. Tennessee avoids the third game of the year against Jaguars. They will, instead, travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs in the Wild Card round Saturday 4:30 eastern.