JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — They called it the futility game. Two teams tied with the worst record in the NFL. On this night, the Jacksonville Jaguars were just a shade better than Tennessee, using a 62-yard fourth-quarter run by Jordan Todman to open up an 11-point lead, en route to a 21-13 win over the visiting Titans at EverBank.
While Jacksonville won the game, Tennessee could become the big winner. If the Titans lose their final game of the season at Indianapolis on Dec. 28, the Titans would be in line for the No. 1 overall draft choice in next year’s college draft.
While Tennessee’s losing streak increased to nine consecutive games, the Jaguars won for the second time in their last four games. It was a win that coach Gus Bradley especially liked because of the short week of preparation.
“It makes it tough when you have a short week, especially how physical the game was last week,” Bradley said. “We had a lot of guys that we were testing at 5:00 tonight to see if they could go. Our whole objective this whole week was it’s going to be a short week but to play fast tonight, and everything we had that mindset with our team.”
Tennessee turned the ball over on downs early in the fourth quarter when a fourth-down pass to Kris Durham came up a yard short of a first down at the Jaguars’ 38-yard line.
On the first play following the change of possession, Todman broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage, put a move on safety Michael Griffin, stiff-armed strong safety George Wilson and sprinted to the end zone. He followed with a leap into the arms of Jacksonville fans.
“I heard the call (for him to carry the ball), and it was my first carry of the day so I was excited,” Todman said. “I saw there was an opportunity to cut it back and make a guy miss and then it was off to the races. It was a great feeling. Everything happened to fall in place.
Tennessee cut three points off the deficit on another Ryan Succop field goal, this one from 23 yards out with just over six minutes left in the game.
The Titans got the ball one final time with just under a minute to play. They marched down to the Jaguars’ 36-yard line, but quarterback Charlie Whitehurst was sacked by Sen’Derrick Marks on the last play of the game to give the Jaguars their third win of the year.
“Tonight it was more about mistakes that we made than anything else,” Tennessee coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “Because when we did it right as you can see by most of the first half, we played pretty good.”
Tennessee took the game’s opening possession and marched 84 yards in 12 plays. Whitehurst was perfect in the drive, connecting on all six pass attempts for 71 yards. The score came on an 8-yard toss to Jacksonville native Leon Washington.
It was the first Titans score on an opening drive in their last 18 games. Jacksonville came into the game as one of just two teams that had not allowed a touchdown on its opponents opening drive.
Washington played his high school ball in Jacksonville and then went on to nearby Florida State. He turned in a solid game, leading the Titans in pass receptions with seven for 62 yards and the one score. He also had four punt returns for 27 yards, a kickoff return for 12 and ran the ball four times for 11 yards.
Still, he expressed disappointment in the final outcome.
“It’s all about winning in the National Football League,” he said. “We didn’t win the game so we’ve got to figure out a way as to how do we get over the hump.
“The first half we came out and did a good job, the second half, not so good.”
Tennessee increased its lead to 10-0 late in the second quarter when Succop converted on a 50-yard field-goal attempt with 3:46 remaining in the half.
The Jaguars finally got their offense going following Succop’s field goal. Quarterback Blake Bortles directed an 11-play, 80-yard scoring march, connecting with Marcedes Lewis from 4 yards out for the score. Bortles came up with the key play of the game, gaining nine yards on a third-and-9 to give the Jaguars a first down at the 13. Following an incomplete pass, Bortles connected with Lewis for the score, shaving the Titans halftime lead to 10-7.
NOTES: Jaguars receivers wore black T-shirts during their warmups two hours before the game that read: “I can’t breathe.” … Jaguars DT Sen’Derrick Marks earned a $600,000 bonus by recording eight sacks this season. He had 7.5 entering Thursday’s game and got QB Charlie Whitehurst on the final play of the game. … Titans tight ends coach Mike Mularkey was the last Jaguars head coach (2012) before current head coach Gus Bradley was hired prior to the 2013 season. … The Jaguars were a 3-point favorite coming into the game, the first time in their last 42 games that they weren’t the underdog. The Jaguars avoided tying an NFL record for futility in that department as the St. Louis Rams set the league mark with 43 consecutive games as underdogs (2007-10).