Hays Carlyon's Jaguars Blog

Jaguars Stay in AFC South Race By Crushing Titans in Nashville

todayDecember 11, 2022


By Hays Carlyon

NASHVILLE – What toe injury?

Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence single-handily guided the offense to a dominant day in picking up his most impressive win as a Jaguar and keeping his team alive in the AFC South race with a 36-22 win over Tennessee on Sunday at Nissan Stadium. The Jaguars (5-8) snapped an eight-game losing streak in Nashville to the Titans (7-6).

The Jaguars defense forced four takeaways.

Lawrence took Tennessee’s heart out, winning his first divisional road game.

The second-year veteran was sensational. He completed 30 of 42 passes for a career-high 368 yards with three touchdown passes and no turnovers for a passer rating of 121.9, while adding a touchdown run.

“He’s the right leader for us and he can only get better,” Jaguars coach Doug Pederson said. “He played tough, played physical, played smart, made some great throws in this football game.”

Lawrence missed practice Wednesday and Thursday with a toe injury suffered in a loss to Detroit last week.

“It’s about what I thought, sore, but nothing that is going to keep me out of the game or that limited me,” Lawrence said. “When the game is going you are not thinking about it. Obviously, it is not ideal but it is not something I really thought hindered me at all.”

As brilliant as Lawrence threw the ball, it was his running ability that was his signature moment in a career-defining victory. Lawrence stiff-armed Tennessee linebacker Dylan Cole and out ran Tennessee cornerback Roger McCreary on a 1-yard touchdown run that gave the Jaguars a 27-14 lead midway through the third quarter. The touchdown drive took 7:07 off the clock to start the third quarter.

Pederson playfully didn’t seem thrilled in his postgame press conference with Lawrence’s decision to keep the ball.

“I’ll let him explain that play,” Pederson said. “Ask him. That’s all I’m going to say. Ask him.”

Lawrence admitted he probably should’ve handed the ball off to running back Travis Etienne.

“When you score, no one’s mad,” Lawrence said. Honestly, I probably should have handed it, but I had the linebacker on the edge. He stepped down one or two steps and I really felt like I could out-run him to the pylon and that’s just what I did. Luckily, got the stiff arm but he recovered a little better than I thought he would so it was close to being a (tackle for loss). That’s one of those plays if you make it, it’s great like it was, but if you don’t make them, it’s a bad play to take a TFL on the goal line.”

Lawrence followed up that drive with another score, throwing a beautiful pass to tight end Evan Engram for a 21-yard touchdown.

Lawrence’s chemistry with Engram was spectacular throughout the day. Engram enjoyed a career day with 11 catches for 162 yards and two touchdowns.

The Jaguars defense had been struggling, but forced several takeaways. Rookie outside linebacker Travon Walker strip sacked Tennessee quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill was later intercepted by Jaguars safety Andrew Wingard.

Jaguars linebacker Shaq Quarterman delivered a huge hit on Tennessee superstar running back Derrick Henry, forcing a fumble that outside linebacker Josh Allen recovered.

Defensive lineman Arden Key recovered a fumble on a Titans botched snap.

The Jaguars now have hope in the AFC South race. They host the Titans in the regular-season finale. Should the Jaguars gain another game in the next three weeks, that contest will determine the division champion.

The Jaguars host Dallas, then travel to the New York Jets and Houston.

Tennessee travels to the Los Angeles Chargers, before hosting Houston and Dallas.

The Jaguars might be two games back, but they do have the best weapon.

Lawrence hasn’t thrown an interception in his last 181 attempts. Since Week 9, Lawrence has thrown 10 touchdowns and no picks.

Lawrence became the first player in franchise history to eclipse 300 yards passing with multiple touchdown passes and a rushing score. At 23 years old, he’s the youngest player in NFL history to throw for at least 350 yards with three passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown.

On the season, Lawrence is completing 66.2 percent of his passes with 20 touchdowns and six picks for a passer rating of 95.4 with four rushing touchdowns.

Lawrence is becoming the best player in the AFC South.

That gives the Jaguars a chance to pull off the improbable over the next month and overtake the Titans.

(You can email Hays at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon).

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