Halloween came early on the banks of the Cumberland River.
The Titans were benefactors of most of the treats, while the hapless Jaguars succumbed to too many tricks. It was reflected in the 36-22 Titans win, as the ended the first eight games at 4-4 marking the halfway point of the regular season.
Your Titans came to play, dressed as a NFL team. The visiting Jags, were dressed uniforms appearing to be hand-me-down Vanderbilt uniforms.
The Jags were dominated in every phase during the first two quarters, going to intermission trailing the Titans, 27-0.
The Titans rolled up 354 yards of offense, holding the Jags to a puny 60 yards.
Oh, the Jags came out in the opening series in the third quarter and put their first points up on the board, to trail 27-8.
Not to worry. The Titans answered with a 75-yard touchdown drive on a four-yard pass to wideout Rishard Matthews. It took all of four minutes, 12 seconds to travel the distance. Kicker Ryan Succop misfired on the PTA as the Titans went up 33-8. The score would stand going into the final quarter.
“To answer after Jacksonville scored a TD after the half was more important than you know,’’ said Titans Coach Mike Mularkey. “When we came out at the half we were going to stick with our game plan.’’
This Titans team needed to get the bad taste out of their mouths, due to the 34-26 loss to a Colts team that picked them apart only four days before. The Titans couldn’t wait to get a team they could pick on and the Jags fit the bill.
It was an important game for the Titans despite the help that Jacksonville gave them.
“We’ve got to stay in (the division race) and we did tonight,’’ Mularkey said. “We let one get away last week. And we haven’t done well here (at home).’’
All three phases of the game were clicking for the Titans. The run game with DeMarco Murray and rookie Derrick Henry was solid. Murray gained 123 yards on 21 trips and a touchdown while Henry backed him up with 60 yards on 16 carries.
The Titans ran for 214 yards on 43 carries, while the defense held the Jags to a mere 48 yards on the ground.
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was flawless completing 18 of 22 for 270 yards and a touchdown. He hit Kendall Wright with a perfect 36-yard strike for a touchdown.
He ended with a 148.1 quarterback rating while Jags counterpart Blake Bartles had a quiet 337 yards passing for three TDs, but was sacked two times.
“I thought he played well,’’ Mularkey said of Mariota. “He took what they gave him. We started slow in the run game, wanting to see where we could hit them. We were going to run the ball.
“We wanted to get Henry some plays. That’s what you want when you have a one-two punch.’’
Mularkey is going to give the team some time off, as they don’t play again until a long trip to San Diego on Nov. 6.
“This is coming at the right time. We need a break,’’ Mularkey said. “This is a good time to give them a rest. They earned it.’’
The third quarter of the regular season includes games at San Diego, Green Bay at home, and road games to Indianapolis and Chicago.
He hopes to get his team to eliminate the “self-inflicted things.’’
The AFC South is still up for grabs. It’s up to the Titans to take advantage of every break they get.
Joe Biddle is a WKRN.com sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.