Jaguars vs. Titans: 5 Things We Learned from Tennessee's 23-17 Win
In a game that was never as close as the score showed, the Titans had trouble turning the ball over, but overcame with an even team effort from their run defense and two young pass catchers.
As Tennessee stayed alive in the AFC Wild Card race, no-name players and late draftees are who Titans fans should be talking about.
1. Tennessee Is Still Alive in the Playoff Race
The New York Jets lost for the second straight time thus opening the door for the Cincinnati Bengals to take control of their AFC Wild Card aspirations while also making the race for the playoffs in Week 17 a bit tumultuous.
The NFL seems to be a wacky place to play lately, so don't count this young Titans team out yet.
You can play around with results for yourself at ESPN's Playoff Machine here.
2. Receiver Damian Williams Has Made the Largest Strides This Season
Entering the 2011 regular season, Tennessee Titans wideout Damian Williams was unproven after playing behind Kenny Britt, Nate Washington and Justin Gage much of his rookie year.
After standout receiver Kenny Britt went down with a season-ending ACL tear in Week 3, Williams was bumped up on the depth chart to the No. 2 receiver.
Williams has stepped up in Britt's absence and was key in Tennessee's victory Saturday.
The key play Saturday for Williams was at the beginning of the fourth quarter. On a 1st-and-10 from their own 20, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck aired the ball out for Williams to run under. The result was a 48-yard completion, eventually setting up a field goal by Rob Bironas.
Earlier in the season, after Williams had evidently given up on a long ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers, offensive coordinator Chris Palmer challenged Williams to be a better receiver and gave him high expectations on the season.
Williams ran with those expectations given his strong performance Saturday, as he caught eight passes (a career high) for 83 yards.
3. Rookie Defensive Tackle Karl Klug Continues to Impress
Rookie defensive tackle Karl Klug continues to be a force in nickel packages for the Tennessee Titans.
Klug recorded one sack, his only tackle of the afternoon, while playing sparingly against the Jacksonville Jaguars Saturday, but he continued his stretch of dominant play despite little playing time.
With a sack Saturday, Klug now has seven sacks on the season, which are two-and-a-half more sacks than any other rookie defensive tackle in Titans/Oilers franchise history.
The fifth-round pick out of Iowa continues to impress in what has been a stout draft class by first-year head coach Mike Munchak.
4. Kicker Is the Most Consistent Position for Tennessee
Kicker Rob Bironas has been one of the most consistent kickers in the NFL since joining the league in 2005.
Bironas set a new NFL record on field goals of 40 or more yards in consecutive games.
Against the Jacksonville Jaguars the seventh-year kicker out of Georgia Southern booted a 51-yard field goal early in the first quarter for his ninth consecutive game of making a field goal of 40 yards or more.
Bironas went on to make another 51-yard field goal in the third quarter to put Tennessee up 20-10, which set a career-high with six field goals of 50 yards or more on the season.
5. Jared Cook Reads My Articles
This week Cook gave no room for error.
He was the dominant tight end the Tennessee Titans expected when they drafted the 6'5" 248-pound Cook.
The third-year tight end out of the University of South Carolina racked up eight catches for 139 yards and a touchdown.
Cook did more than prove he can catch passes early in the game though.
His 29-yard reception on a vital 3rd-and-five with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter showed that he learned his lesson after two costly fumbles late in games against the Cincinnati Bengals and the Colts.
Tennessee will need more of the same from Cook if they hope to get past the Houston Texans in Week 17.