The Jacksonville Jaguars pulled off their miracle with just three minutes remaining.
The Tennessee Titans led 16-13 in the fourth quarter with just under three minutes remaining. With his back against the wall, Jaguars safety Rayshawn Jenkins made the game of the game – and maybe the season – by firing Titans QB Joshua Dobbs and forcing a fumble that was shoveled by outside linebacker Josh Allen and quickly taken to the end zone.
After Jacksonville took a 20-16 lead, the game was essentially over as the Titans were unable to muster a big final drive, eventually handing the ball back to Jacksonville in the closing seconds.
That was the surge Jacksonville needed without much time remaining in competition. A game that was expected to be easier than it was just wasn’t what it looked like, with the Jaguars narrowly missing out on the coveted AFC South title.
The Jaguars searched for a lead throughout the contest, trailing the Titans to Allen’s scoop-and-score. It’s the second game-winning touchdown by Jacksonville’s defense this season — both with Jenkins somewhere in the game.
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The Jaguars became AFC South champions for the second time in team history, the first time since 2017 when the team reached the AFC Championship Game.
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The Jaguars won four straight games ahead of Saturday night’s competition to put themselves in position to take over the AFC South.
Jacksonville started the season 2-6 before turning the tide with a 6-2 run that included victories over the Baltimore Ravens and the Dallas Cowboys, two teams tied to the playoffs. The Titans went in the opposite direction after losing six straight games, including one at home to Jacksonville, 36-22.
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The Jaguars will enter the postseason for the first time since 2017 and the second time since 2007. It is the team’s second AFC South title in division history (since 2002).
The Jaguars won the AFC South title five straight years, becoming the first team in league history to win their division after a 5-0 loss in a single calendar month (October).
They also join the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals and 2020 Washington team as the only teams to start 2-6 and make the playoffs. Interestingly, the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers both started this season 2-6 and have playoff opportunities on Sunday.
Tyson Campbell’s interception changed the course of play
The Jaguars were 16-10 behind the Titans with just a minute left in the third quarter. Campbell made it big with an interception from Dobbs on the left touchline. Campbell returned the ball to the Titans’ 29-yard line.
Up until this point, the Jaguars’ defenses were struggling to slow the Titans down. After forcing a first-hand punt, the Jaguars gave up three field goals and a touchdown.
Despite this, Jacksonville only collected three points for a field goal after selection. The momentum was right on Jacksonville’s side — at least on defense.
Jaguar’s slow start in the first half, compounded by early turnover
Jacksonville started the game with a three-and-out on his first possession and fumbled the ball on his second possession. Lawrence received the snap and attempted to pitch the ball to either Jamal Agnew or Christian Kirk. It was the 12th fumble of the season for Lawrence and the ninth lost.
The two drives resulted in 10 points for Tennessee and put Jacksonville in an early 10-0 hole.
The Titans controlled the ball for 17:58 of the first half, giving Jacksonville little time to score. Jacksonville scored on their last possession of the first half, preceded by a 50-yard kickoff return from Agnew.
Jacksonville’s touchdown was scored by Lawrence on a 25-yard pass to Kirk. Jacksonville went into halftime trailing 10-7, with momentum still clearly in the Titans’ favor.
However, the offense struggled throughout the competition, raking in just 216 total net yards, including 18 net rushing yards.
Demetrius Harvey is the Jacksonville Jaguars reporter for the Florida Times-Union. You can follow him on Twitter at @Demetrius82.