Nightmare Before Xmas: Mariota Breaks Fibula, Texans Win Division

The Jacksonville Jaguars played the role of the ‘Grinch’ on Christmas eve at EverBank Field, as they unwrapped the Titans hopes of a playoff appearance with a dominate performance running out 38-17 victors, leaving the Titans needing a Bengals victory in the late kickoff against the Texans.

From the opening drive the Titans had their backs up against the wall with Blake Bortles the orchestrate of the ensuing misery that would unfold in Jacksonville. Bortles (26/38/325 1 TD 0 INT) looked to have turned the clock back to 2015 as he lead the team on scoring drives with the first two possessions, the first an 8 play80 yard drive sealed with a Marquise Lee touchdown. With the Jags intentions clear the Titans offense would need to find itself quick, however following a lowly first down the Jags were soon back in possession on the ball. Running back Chris Ivory featured during the next possession as the Titans defense showed some resolve holding the Jags to a field goal as they established a 10-0 lead with ease.

As the half progressed the Jaguars continued to target cornerback Valentino Blake (targeted 11 times during the game, giving 9 receptions for 150 yards) moving the ball up and down the field with ease. The Titans did get on the board as Mariota hit Rishard Matthews for a touchdown, continuing Mariota’s impressive streak within the redzone (33 touchdowns 0 interceptions). At the half the Jaguars lead 19-7.

Any hope of repeating last Sundays fourteen point turnaround against the Chiefs were dashed in the third quarter as Marcus Mariota failed to get back to his feet following a sack by Sheldon Day. Mariota’s body language was enough to suggest that the injury was serious (fractured Fibula). Following medical attention a dejected Mariota was carter off with an air cast on his right leg to a chorus of applause from both sets of fans, which he was quick to acknowledge.

With the score 25-10 entering the fourth quarter and Matt Cassel under centre the Titans were in desperate need of points along with some fourth quarter magic. The quick score came as Matt Cassel hit tight end Delanie Walker making it an 8 point game with 8 minutes left, however the magic came via the Jags as interim Head Coach Doug Marrone dialed up a trick play. Bortles handed off the ball to Marquise Lee and dashed up field past a onlooking Brian Orakpo before reeling in the pass from Lee to make the score 31-17 (PAT missed).

The game was sealed two plays later as Jalen Ramsey jumped the route to the outside taking the ball to the house. Ramsey was outstanding throughout the course of the game, outside of the pick six he allowed just 4 receptions from 10 targets for 20 yards. The Jaguars defense kept both DeMarco Murray (42 yards) and Derrick Henry (13 yards) in check unlike the Titans defense (which had improved during the teams winning streak) as they surrendered 415 yards with wideout Allen Robinson Reeling in 9 passes for 147 yards.  The Titans misery was completed as the Houston Texans defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 12-10 sealing the AFC South title and sole playoff spot.

Titans Reaction

Mike Mularkey: I give them credit, They beat us. It is the first time I can honestly say this season that we have been beaten like that and it is bad timing for it. We didn’t play well enough to win against anybody.

DeMarco Murray: We just got beat,’From start to finish, they beat us. They literally just outplayed us, out-executed us.

Taylor Lewan: This is a team sport, so the loss falls on the players, the coaches and everyone, The frustration is real.

Jags Reaction

Jalen Ramsey: “It means a lot to be able to do that – not just in front of the crowd but against my hometown team, said (Ramsey, who attended Brentwood Academy in Nashville). That felt good. I just wanted to continue to build on my performance from last week and continue to get better”.

Blake Bortles: “I think it was definitely tough, There were a lot of guys this year who’ve never been through a coaching change before. I know I haven’t. I think as tough as it was for everybody to go through what we went through. I think  Doug stepped in there and did a really good job of kind of bringing a sense of calmness to the team and kind of laying out what our objectives were and how we were going to accomplish them.  I thought he did a really good job in a tough situation.”

Sen’Derrick Marks: “With everything that went on last week I think this win is big for everybody who is a part of this organization. We haven’t given the fans nothing to cheer about here at home and to close it out at home against a team who embarrassed us on national television. I think it was huge for everybody who is part of this organization.

(post was originally posted on www.thasportsjunkies101.com)

Mark Teece

Aspiring NFL writer currently tapping plastic square buttons on a larger plastic rectangle, resulting in this website/blog that covers the wonderful world of pigskin. Former cornerback/safety for the Crewe Railroaders (UK).

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