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Finding a way: Titans pull out 33-30 win over Jaguars to improve to 2-0

The Titans fought to the end to do something that’s now only been done three times in the “Titans era”
Tennessee Titans kicker Stephen Gostkowski (3) kicks a 49-yard field goal against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. The kick gave the Titans a 33-30 win. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
Tennessee Titans kicker Stephen Gostkowski (3) kicks a 49-yard field goal against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. The kick gave the Titans a 33-30 win. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)(Mark Zaleski | AP)
Published: Sep. 20, 2020 at 10:46 PM EDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Titans found a way on Sunday.

In an empty stadium, and with a worn out defense, the Titans fought to the end to do something that’s now only been done three times in the “Titans era” – start the season 2-0.

With quarterback Ryan Tannehill leading the way, the Titans pulled out a 33-30 win over the Jaguars at Nissan Stadium.

“It’s huge,” Tannehill said after throwing for 239 yards and four touchdowns. “You’ve got to find a way to win. Not every game is gonna be all pretty in the NFL. It’s a tough league, and teams that can find ways to grind out tough wins in close games are usually teams that are going to win a lot of games. I’m proud of the way our guys battled.”

Just like the season opener in Denver, the game ended with drama – and with kicker Stephen Gostkowski kicking the game-winning field goal.

Gostkowski’s 49-yard field goal with 1:36 proved gave the Titans the lead late, and then linebacker Harold Landry sealed the win by intercepting Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew with 47 seconds left to clinch it. Titans defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons batted the ball into the air, and Landry caught it.

“It’s always awesome to win,” Landry said. “We’re 2-0 and that’s the most important thing, getting the win. It’s a lot easier going into the facility following a win, and being able to make the corrections, rather than a loss. It’s big time to get a win in the NFL, and we were able to do that. We’ve started out the season 2-0, and now we have to move on to next week. One of our key things is effort and finish, and I felt like we did that. It’s just a great feeling to be 2-0.”

Tannehill completed 18-of-24 passes in the contest, throwing two touchdown passes to tight end Jonnu Smith along with touchdown tosses to receiver Corey Davis and Adam Humphries.

Running back Derrick Henry ran for 84 yards on 25 carries for the Titans, doing most of his damage in the latter stages of the contest.

With the win, the Titans are now alone atop the AFC South after the first two weeks of the NFL season.

The only other Titans teams to start 2-0? The 1999 Titans, a team that went to the Super Bowl, and the 2008 Titans, a team that started 10-0 before finishing 13-3. But that 2008 team lost its first playoff game.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel knows his team has work to do. The Titans allowed 480 yards and 30 first downs on defense.

“We have to play better,” Vrabel said. "We have to rush better. We have to cover better. We have coach better. We have to coach all those things better. But we were able to disrupt the football and there late in the game and got the turnover that was the difference.

“I’m confident that we will (improve), but excited to be 2-0 for the first time (since 2008) here in Tennessee.”

The Titans came out firing on Sunday to lead 24-10 at halftime.

On the game’s first offensive play, Tannehill connected with Smith for a 63-yard completion. Two plays later, Tannehill connected with Smith for a 13-yard touchdown to give the Titans a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the contest.

After an interception and long return by rookie cornerback Kristian Fulton, the Titans were in great scoring position once again. And a few minutes later it was 14-0 after a nine-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill to Davis.

The Jaguars cut the lead to 14-7 on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Minshew to tight end Tyler Eifert, but the Titans extended their lead to 21-7 on a four-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill to Smith.

Then, on the final play of the first half, Gostkowski nailed a 51-yard field goal to make it 24-10.

Tannehill completed 12-of-14 passes for 172 yards and three touchdowns in the first half.

But the Titans, playing without cornerback Adoree' Jackson and then without cornerback Johnathan Joseph (leg) for most the second half, had trouble slowing down the Jaguars.

After the Jaguars cut the lead to 24-17 on a 17-yard run by running back James Robinson, the Titans came right back, scoring on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill to Humphries to cap a nine-play, 75-yard drive. The extra point attempt was missed, however, and the Titans led 30-17 with 2:04 left in the third quarter.

The Jaguars rallied to tie the game at 30-30 on a pair of touchdown passes from Minshew, who connected with Keelan Cole on a two-yard score before finding Chris Thompson for a 15-yard score with 7:25 remaining.

But back came the Titans, who once again found a way to win it late.

The Titans travel to face the Minnesota Vikings next Sunday.

“Definitely off to a great start,” Henry said. “I don’t want to get too caught up in it. … I just want to keep this momentum going, playing good football, improving each and every week, making each other better throughout the week, and going out here and executing and keep winning games. Definitely good to be 2-0. Like I said, we’ll enjoy this and then get ready to make corrections and improve for next week.”

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