JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Blake Bortles’ best game of the season helped the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Tennessee Titans 38-17 on Saturday and end a nine-game losing streak.
Bortles threw for 325 yards and a touchdown, and was on the receiving end of a 20-yard trick play that sealed the win with 5:25 remaining. Rookie Jalen Ramsey returned an interception 30 yards on the ensuring play to set off a raucous — and long-awaited — celebration in Jacksonville.
Bortles and the Jaguars (3-12) played inspired football from the opening kick and won for the first time this season at EverBank Field. Their last victory at home came Dec. 13, 2015, against Indianapolis.
Maybe they rallied around interim coach Doug Marrone. Maybe they played for ultra-popular ex-coach Gus Bradley, who was fired six days earlier . Maybe they just wanted to avenge an embarrassing loss to the Titans (8-7) on national television in late October.
Either way, it caused a lot of head-scratching and thoughts of “Where has then been all year?”
It was a debacle for the Titans, who had won three in a row . Tennessee needed a victory to set up an AFC South title game next week against Houston. Now, coach Mike Mularkey’s team needs the Texans to lose at home to Cincinnati later Saturday to stay in the division race.
It might not even matter because Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota appears to be done for the season.
Mariota left late in the third quarter with an air cast on his right ankle. Rookie Sheldon Day sacked Mariota as he scrambled on a first-down throw, grabbing him around the ankles. Mariota stayed on the ground and signaled to the sideline. He pounded the ground several times as trainers rushed to his side.
They positioned the air cast and lifted Mariota onto a cart. Teammates and even some Jaguars patted Mariota on the shoulders before he excited.
Matt Cassel replaced him and later threw a TD pass to Delanie Walker. But Jacksonville answered.
Bortles connected with Allen Robinson twice for 37 yards on the next possession and then caught a 20-yard pass from Marqise Lee. Lee got the ball on an end-around and found Bortles wide open down the left sideline.
Bortles completed 26 of 38 passes and won for the first time when throwing for more than 300 yards. Robinson finished with nine catches for a season-high 147 yards.
Mariota completed 8 of 20 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown before the injury. He had a 3-yard scoring pass to Rishard Matthews in the second quarter, but he spent much of the day hurried and throwing high and low.
An even bigger issue for Tennessee was a grounded running game. The Titans entered Saturday averaging 144.7 yards a game on the ground, but DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry were mostly ineffective against Jacksonville. Murray carried 14 times for 42 yards, and Henry added 13 yards on four attempts.