Titans school Jaguars on ground and pound

Derrick Henry #22 of the Tennessee Titans rushes for a 17-yard touchdown. Henry played for Yulee High School.
Derrick Henry #22 of the Tennessee Titans rushes for a 17-yard touchdown. Henry played for Yulee High School. (Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Establish the run, play tough defense and take care of the football. That’s the blueprint for both the Titans and Jaguars. On Sunday, Tennessee proved it's better at it, pulling away in the second half to beat the Jaguars 37-16.

Jacksonville got off to a good start. Its defense forced a 3-and-out and the offense drove down the field and got a field goal. From there it was all Titans.

The Jaguars next eight possessions looked like this: Punt, punt, fumble, interception, interception, punt, punt, punt. With the offense struggling to produce, the Jaguars defense wore down. It held the Titans to 58 yards rushing in the first half but Tennessee added another 121 yards on the ground in the second half.

“I don’t think they were more physical than us,” Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. said. “We had a couple of plays where we weren’t in the right gaps. We have to look at the film and get those things fixed.”

Titans running back Derrick Henry did most of his damage in the second half. The Yulee native finished with a career-high 92 yards and a touchdown.

Sunday was the first full game that the Jaguars were without wide receiver Allen Robinson. Without its best deep threat, Jacksonville rarely tested Tennessee down the field. In turn, the Titans stacked the box with eight or nine defenders and held running back Leonard Fournette to only 40 yards on 14 carries (2.9 per attempt).

“We’ve just got to find ways to make plays when adversity hits,” Fournette said. “Just bounce back from it, that’s all. Tough game for us, but we’ve got plenty more games ahead.”

Without a running game, Blake Bortles reverted to the quarterback who's been prone to turning the ball over. Coming into Sunday, Bortles hadn’t thrown an interception since Week 15 of last season. That was the longest stretch he’s gone in his career without being picked off. Against Tennessee, he had a ball batted at the line of scrimmage that led to his first interception and then a pass thrown behind Marqise Lee led to the second interception.

To recap, the Jaguars lost the battle in turnovers (3-1) and rushing yards (179-99), and were flagged for 10 penalties for 99 yards. They looked like a completely different team than the one that opened the season last Sunday with a dominating win over Houston.

“Same as always: Never get too high after a win, never too low after a loss,” Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell said. “Grade the tape and move on to next week.”