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TENNESSEE 10, JACKSONVILLE 3

Defense Steps Up for the Titans

November 17, 2003|From Associated Press

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Titans' record-setting scoring surge is over. Thanks to their defense, their winning streak is intact.

The Titans' streak of games with 30 points or more ended at six, but Steve McNair threw for a touchdown and the defense held off the Jaguars at the goal line in the final minute to preserve a 10-3 victory, their fifth in a row.

"The offense has been carrying us the last few weeks, and we needed a game like this today for the defense to rise up and really show how good we can be or how good we are," Titan safety Lance Schulters said. "We showed up to play today and made the plays when they counted."

Jacksonville (2-8) had first and goal and needed a touchdown to force overtime, but the Titans stopped Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala twice up the middle for losses. Scott McGarrahan tackled Cortez Hankton at the two after an eight-yard catch, then Byron Leftwich couldn't find a receiver in the end zone on fourth and two.

The Titans (8-2) then ran out the final 45 seconds.

"This is kind of the old way, right down to the end," Coach Jeff Fisher said. "The important thing is we won."

Tennessee never came close to the form its showed in becoming only the third team since 1970 to top 30 points in six consecutive games. Jacksonville outgained Tennessee, 271 yards to 246, came up with three turnovers and also sacked McNair twice -- its first sacks since Oct. 12. Hugh Douglas, who had his only sack of the season in the opener, had 1 1/2 and also forced a fumble. But the Jaguars couldn't convert those turnovers into points.

"We happen to have two of the better teams in the league in our division, and we went toe to toe with them," Coach Jack Del Rio said of his team, which beat Indianapolis last week.

"I don't see any reason to think that we don't belong in that category. But they earned the right to be where they are, and we have not yet. But we are building something here."

Tennessee lost defensive end Jevon Kearse, the AFC's co-leader with 9 1/2 sacks, to a sprained left ankle in the first quarter.

"The mark of a good team is when you go out and you play as sloppy as we did offensively, and you still come out with a victory," McNair said. "The credit goes to the defense."

The Jaguars were seeking a second consecutive win for the first time this season. But they remained winless on the road.

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