JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Tennessee Titans had the ball inside Jacksonville’s 25-yard line six times Sunday.
They came away with one touchdown.
It turned out to be the difference on a day when the Titans (4-7) had seven sacks, an interception and plenty of chances to change the outcome.
Chad Henne threw two touchdown passes, sparking the NFL’s worst offense for the second consecutive week, and the Jaguars beat the Titans 24-19. Jacksonville (2-9) snapped a seven-game losing streak and was competitive at home for the first time in six games.
“We got down to the red zone so many times and we weren’t able to capitalize,” Titans running back Chris Johnson said. “We were always coming out with a field goal. Any time you have to do that, that’s not very good.”
The Titans certainly had their chances, but getting possession and both feet down proved to be a problem.
So they settled for field goals. Rob Bironas made four and was wide left from 42 yards away. His miss loomed large late in the game.
The Titans cut the lead to 21-19 on Jake Locker’s 6-yard pass to Kenny Britt with 4:52 remaining and had the ball with a chance to take the lead. But Russell Allen tipped Locker’s pass over the middle, and Dwight Lowery hauled in his first interception of the season.
“We didn’t execute as we needed top when we had the opportunities,” Locker said.
Josh Scobee’s 41-yard field goal with 24 seconds remaining left the Titans in desperation mode for the final few snaps.
Locker completed 23 of 40 passes for 261 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions. His final heave was picked off.
Johnson ran 21 times for 80 yards, and that’s with a 31-yard run on Tennessee’s lone touchdown drive.
The talk in the Titans’ locker room afterward was about how they came out flat, especially after having two weeks to prepare.
“I don’t think guys expected to come in here and just walk out and win the game,” coach Mike Munchak said. “Every team in the NFL is a good football team. If you don’t think that, you’re mistaken. I don’t think our team prepared that way. I don’t think we came here with that mind-set today. We just didn’t execute as well as we needed to to win the game.”
The Titans had won two in a row on the road and looked to stay in the playoff hunt with a win after their bye week. Now, they’re probably a long shot in the AFC postseason picture.
“This makes it tougher and tougher to keep your playoff hopes alive when you drop games like this,” linebacker Zach Brown said. “We felt like this was a game where we were supposed to win.”
With good reason, too.
The Jaguars had been outscored 153-44 in five losses at EverBank Field. They trailed 3-0 after Henne’s interception on the first play of the game, but slowly seized control by holding the Titans to field goals most of the day.
Making his first start in more than 13 months, Henne found Cecil Shorts III for a 59-yard touchdown in the third quarter and hooked up with rookie Justin Blackmon for a 7-yard score in the fourth. It was similar to what he did last week at Houston, when he came off the bench in place of injured starter Blaine Gabbert and threw for 354 yards and four touchdowns.
Henne hit 17 of 26 passes for 261 yards, most of them to Shorts (four catches for 105 yards) and Blackmon (five for 62). Henne’s first pass was tipped and intercepted. He also was sacked seven times, including twice that took the Jaguars out of field goal range.
“Yeah, that’s a great number, to put up seven sacks,” Titans defensive end Kamerion Wimbley said. “It’s really disappointing when you put up that many sacks and you don’t get the win. Individual numbers don’t matter. We’re here to get the ‘W.’ We felt like this was a game where we had a great opportunity to come in and get and come out of here with a win and we didn’t make that happen.”
The Titans are now 3-2 in games decided by seven or fewer points this season.