Something Remarkable Happened When Tennessee Played Jacksonville Last Night in the NFL

I write far less about American Football here than I would like to – mainly because the legal aspects are more abstruse (though one day I will recap the USFL v NFL battles on the 1980’s and their implications for Scottish football should the SPL, SFL and SFA not agree on re-structuring).

Last night’s games threw up some remarkable events – Drew Brees of the Saints passing for over 5,000 yards for the second straight season; Adrian Peterson taking his Vikings single-handedly into the playoffs and falling 9 yards short of beating Eric Dickerson’s “unbeatable” single season rushing record; and Washington beating their arch-rivals, Dallas, to win their division.

But the most remarkable took place in a meaningless game, between two teams who have disappointed this year – the Tennessee Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The season ended with Jacksonville on 6-10 and Tennessee on 2-14. Yesterday showed Jacksonville how best to win – avoid putting your offence on the field at all!

With 3.04 to go in the second quarter the Titans got the ball. They led 14-7 and took over possession on their own 49 yard line.

In the next 29 plays, the Jaguars never put their offence on the field, although their kicking team was on 8 times, and scored 28 points.

The sequence went as follows.

It started so well. Chad Henne found Keith Toston for a 21 yard gain to the Titans’ 30. On the next play Toston took the ball 9 yards to the 21. The Jaguars rushed to get a play off before the 2 minute warning, but were penalised for an illegal shift, and they were left, with 2 minutes in the half to go, with 2nd down and 5 from the 25 yard line.

Now it went wrong.

Henne threw a short pass for his tight end Marcedes Lewis. However, Tennessee’s rookie linebacker, Zach Brown, stepped up, intercepted, and returned it 79 yards for the TD. After the extra point, it was 14-14 and time for the Titans to kick off.

At first the kickoff return looked fantastic – Jordan Shipley took the ball 5 yards deep in his endzone, and made it all the way to the Titan’s 45, for a 60 yard return. However, there had been a foul on the return, and instead of being in the opposition half with time to take the lead again, the Jags were backed up after the penalty to their own 6 yard line.

There was still 1.36 to go, so Henne came out throwing, hitting Lewis for a 17 yard gain to the 23 and then throwing incomplete deep for Justin Blackmon. On 2nd down Shipley caught a pass for 5 yards.

On 3rd down the Titans’ D went to work, sacking Henne for a 6 yard loss. On came Bryan Anger, the punter. He boomed a kick to the Titans’ 31. Darius Reynaud returned it 69 yards for the TD.

Jaguars 14 – Titans 21.

After another kickoff Henne tried to make something happen before half time, but despite completions to Lewis and Shipley, time expired with the Jags just inside the Titans’ half.

Maybe half-time would help the rattled Jaguars? After all, they were to receive the opening kickoff in the 3rd quarter.


Shipley returned the kickoff to his own 20. From there, after getting to 2nd and 2, the Jags could not make a first down, so Anger came back out to punt.

This time Reynaud returned the ball 81 yards for the TD!

Jags 14 – Titans 28.

By now Rob Bironas, the Titans’ kicker, must have been getting leg cramps, he had been called on so often in so short a time! In any event, he kicked into the end zone, and Richard Murphy took it out to the 22.

Henne had another chance to get his team back in the game. What could go wrong now?

First play of the drive was a 3 yard run. On 2nd down Henne threw a short pass for Toney Clemons. Unfortunately Zach Brown was lurking and intercepted, returning the ball 30 yards for the TD.

After the extra point, Tennessee had scored 28 unanswered points, without running a single play themselves, and in 6.08 of elapsed game time.

Remarkably Henne was intercepted on his next series too, but this time the return was only to the Jags’ 7 yard line, snapping the sequence.

The likelihood is that the Jags’ coaching staff will be dismissed en masse, especially as they were in place when new owner Shahid Khan bought the team at the end of last season. However, such a meltdown has seen coaches sacked before, and especially for volatile ones such as Jerry Jones at Dallas, if such a sequence happened there, the Special Teams and Quarterback coaches might not have got to the end of the game before getting their P45s!

So, a little bit of history in an otherwise meaningless game which the Titans won 38-20. But there were still, officially, 69,143 fans in attendance, making it a sellout. However many clearly came along dressed as empty seats at the end of a disappointing season for the Titans. The ones who were there saw something unique from their own team, and the ultimate in futility from Jacksonville.

Posted by Paul “Too Tall” McConville



Filed under American Football

11 responses to “Something Remarkable Happened When Tennessee Played Jacksonville Last Night in the NFL

  1. Vega

    You could have written this piece in French and I wouldn’t have been any more confused… I just don’t get it and therefore can’t get into American “Foot”ball though your passion clearly shines through.

    All the best for the New Year to everyone.

  2. Arb urns

    Can think of quite a number of managers over years of watching S P Hell who will be orgasmically dropping in on this festival of erotica post to satisfy their fetish defensive desires. HNY to all on here may 2013 see the end game in The Rangers Saga and b a good year for constructors and reconstructors anywhere and everywhere. ARB.

  3. Now 11-10 that would be something to write about. My own team Chargers(used to live in SD), lost to this back in 2008 against the Steelers and caused a right debate back then.

    PS Paul – did you read my tweet .. worth a guest post ?

  4. AntoniousF

    And the bears miss the play offs as the vikings (by that i mean Peterson) beat green bay 37-34

  5. I used to play “football”of the gridiron variety – started at Uni back when C4 were first showing it. We played in the first proper Uni league in the UK – though of course we had no kit. Full contact, no pads – we had 4 guys in hospital with concussion in one game… we pretty much all played “O” and “D” as we didn’t have too many players. We made it to the first ever Uni American Football final – got spanked by a Hull team that had more ringers than a church bell tower… but we did better than anyone thought we would do 🙂

    Carried on playing when I moved to London, though moved from linebacker to strong saftey – bunch of teams around Essex, and ended up as defensive captain. After a few failures we finally won the “Big One” – the UK Senior league (it helped that the best teams – semi-pro teams like the Brum Bulls and Streatham Olympians – boycotted the league that year). Happy happy days.

    Retired when the injurires started to pile up but still love the game and 25 years later I still meet some of the guys for BBQs or to go skiing with them and shoot the bull… As the saying goes, “the older I get, the better I was”!

    As a Raiders fan – the Rebels of American football – I am well aware of the rival leagues and how the NFL dealt with them. Also the franchise system (as Al Davis used the leverage of moving between Oakland and LA to extract better deals) – the fans masquarading as seats is an issue with local TV netwekrs – as I understand it, games can’t be shown on local TV if its not a sell-out so the teams often “buy” the last few thousand tickets themselves…

    • Arb urns

      Great read jb. I met a guy through a client who had been a nose guard ( i think)in the pro game for three years who had a claim to fame that he never touched the ball in a game during this career.

      • Our noseguard rejoiced in the nickname “one-cell” – one of the linebackers used to have to hold onto his belt to stop him jumping offside and smacking the oppo line. One time he even took his helmet off and headbutted a guy who was still wearing his!

  6. Arb urns

    Always liked the way u.s football teams pick their names etc. full of business, local industries, local characteristics, heroes and villains and animals and usually in the plural and with a strong THE occasionally? Here are a few excuse the few unlikely mergers…….

    Aberdeen oilers
    Peterhead catch
    Arbroath lights
    Edinburgh -ankers ( sorry cant say or type the b word w will replace b in the alphabet in 2013 I am advised )
    Motherwell furnace
    Paisley patterns
    Greenock cranes
    Airdrieonia ( for JT)
    Maryhill Magyars ( still ootb)
    Clyde valley
    Dumfries galloways
    Dingwall stags
    West Lothian wildcats
    Inverness ????
    Killie or Ayr bacon ( better not use the animal here same as prev entry)

    Any takers for the cheetahs franchise ??? Sure there are loads more and better……

  7. bhoy 76

    The battle between the USFL and the NFL is something that interests me as well Paul. I first became aware of it after watching a ESPN documentary about a college runningback sensation who ended up playing in the USFL for a season after a dispute with his college team, which ended with him receiving a career

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