By Teresa Walker (AP)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans know good teams win ugly games, and being 2-0 for the first time in 12 years has a way of making any victory look much prettier.
Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 49-yard field goal with 1:36 left, and the Tennessee Titans remain undefeated after holding off the Jacksonville Jaguars 33-30 Sunday.
“To get a chance to win at the end of the game, that’s what you practice for,” said Gostkowski, who kicked his second straight game-winner after struggling in the opener. “Luckily we were able to come through today. It’s exciting to get the win and get the Titans to 2-0.”
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill said Gostkowski came up huge for the Titans on something that wasn't a chip shot.
“t was a tough kick in a crucial point in the game and had nothing but confidence he was going to bang it through, and that's exactly what he did," Tannehill said.
Jeffery Simmons batted a pass by Gardner Minshew, and Harold Landry III grabbed the ball out of the air with 47 seconds left to seal the victory.
This is the Titans' first 2-0 start since 2008, the most recent season this franchise won the AFC South. They also won their seventh straight against divisional rival Jacksonville in Nashville after nearly blowing a 24-10 halftime lead.
“Excited to be 2-0 for the first time here in Tennessee," third-year Titans coach Mike Vrabel said.
Tannehill threw for 239 yards and four touchdowns. The Titans sacked Minshew twice and picked him off twice.
“That last one sucks,” Minshew said. "Ball got tipped up in the air. Just a bad way to lose.”
Minshew finished throwing for 339 yards and three TDs, his final two coming in the fourth quarter as he tried to rally the Jaguars (1-1). His final TD pass, a 14-yarder to Chris Thompson, tied it up at 30 with 7:25 left as the Jaguars (1-1) tried to snap their Music City skid.
The Jaguars outgained Tennessee 480-354, but they wouldn't score again. Coach Doug Marrone said they just weren't able to make the play to get them over the top.
“These guys are going to continue to get better," Marrone said. "I don’t want to say growing pains because I really feel like those guys can do it. There may be plays they lose, but that’s football.”
The Jaguars revamped their defense to defend Derrick Henry better after the 2019 NFL rushing leader had run for 498 yards against them since the start of the 2018 season, most the Titans running back has had against any AFC South team. They held him to 84 yards on 25 carries.
So the Titans turned to Tannehill, the quarterback who led the NFL in 2019 with a 117.5 passer rating.
Tannehill opened the game finding a wide-open Jonnu Smith for 63 yards before hitting Smith for a 13-yard TD two plays later. Tannehill added a 9-yard TD pass to Corey Davis on the next drive and threw a 4-yarder to Smith late in the first half. He also tossed an 18-yard TD to Adam Humphries in the third.
He set a franchise record with two TD passes within the first 10 minutes. It was his 10th straight game with at least two TDs, breaking the mark held with Marcus Mariota who set the record in 2016. This also was Tannehill's third career game with four TD passes and first since Oct. 25, 2015, in a win for Miami over Houston.
“He was on fire," Henry said. “He did a great job in the red zone. It’s just what he does.”
Tannehill also leads the NFL since Week 7 of last season with 10 straight games with at least two TDs and no interceptions. Reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson of Baltimore and Drew Brees of New Orleans went into Week 2 with six such games.
SPECIAL TEAM STRUGGLES
Gostkowski also made a 51-yarder at the end of the first half after an ugly performance in the opener. But he did hit a left upright after Tannehill's fourth TD pass.
The Jaguars struggled in the kicking game. They tried a squib kick with 12 seconds left in the first half that the Titans easily recovered. Two plays later, Gostkowski made it a 24-10 halftime lead. Then rookie Chris Claybrooks, a Nashville native, fumbled the opening kick of the second half.
Jaguars center Brandon Linder went down on the opening drive of the third quarter with a knee injury and limped to the sideline where he needed help to the bench. He did not return and was replaced by Tyler Shatley.
Titans cornerback Johnathan Joseph hurt a leg in the second half and did not return. Center Ben Jones limped to the sideline early in the fourth quarter but returned.
Jaguars: Host Miami.
Titans: Visit Minnesota.