Pride is enough motivation for Jaguars, Tennessee
Posted: Friday, December 28, 2012 7:00 pm
By TERESA M. WALKER
AP Sports Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) — The Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars insist they have plenty on the line Sunday in their season finale.
Pride. A victory and a sense of accomplishment heading into the offseason. Playing well enough to have a job in 2013.
“We’re not lacking any type of motivation,” Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner said. “I wouldn’t say that’s a tipping point or a boiling point. We just need a win.”
Titans coach Mike Munchak likely can help himself far more than Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey with a win Sunday. That would give Munchak two wins in the final three games when he meets with owner Bud Adams to explain what went wrong this season after just missing a playoff berth in 2011 by a tiebreaker.
Munchak calls this a must-win to reach the goal of finishing 6-10 after an ugly 55-7 loss in Green Bay last weekend.
“We still have a lot of work ahead us, it’s not going to fix all of our problems because we win,” Munchak said. “It’s a good way to go into the offseason with a win rather than a loss. Having said that, once we do win this weekend, then we have a lot of work ahead of us to get where we need to get. We know that. That will all start the day after that game.”
Mularkey has been on the job in Jacksonville one season, and it’s the worst in the franchise’s short history even if the Jaguars (2-13) manage a win. They have lost four straight since beating the Titans 24-19 in Jacksonville on Nov. 25, including a 23-16 loss to the Patriots last week.
Even with 19 players on injured reserve, the Jaguars have been competitive. Linebacker Paul Posluszny said the scores nobody should see in the NFL in recent weeks won’t happen with Jacksonville.
“That will be the positive thing coming out of the season,” Posluszny said. “Regardless of the record and the situation we’re in, guys played hard. We always stuck together. You never saw us give up. A game never got so out of hand because of a lack of effort. Now, we made some bad plays, no doubt about that. But it was never a lack of effort.”
The Titans may get rookie receiver Kendall Wright back after he missed the Green Bay loss with a sore rib. He not only leads the Titans with 62 catches, that’s best for all NFL rookies.
That might help Jake Locker, who had two more interceptions last week to give him 11 this season. Locker also was picked off twice in the fourth quarter by the Jaguars in sealing their third win in four games in the series. Jacksonville has linebacker Daryl Smith back from a groin injury.
“He knows he has to play better, he knows he will,” Munchak said of Locker. “He knows it’s part of the learning process, unfortunately. He’s getting a taste of a team not having success early on in his career. I think that will encourage him (Sunday).”
Tennessee also has some extra incentive. They have allowed an NFL-worst 451 points, just shy of the franchise record of 460 given up by the then-Houston Oilers in 1983. The Titans have never gone winless in the AFC South and need a win to match the 1-5 mark in 2004.
“Definitely that’s something that every team takes pride in their own division being able to be successful,” Locker said. “Obviously one win is not going to make you successful in our conference. But it does give you a good springboard going into the offseason.”
The Titans sacked Chad Henne seven times the last time these teams met, but Henne threw for two touchdowns and had a passer rating of 108 in the win. Henne won’t have receiver Cecil Shorts (concussion) or running back Rashad Jennings (shoulder) after both were placed on injured reserve Monday.
The Jaguars still have rookie Justin Blackmon, their leading receiver with 58 catches, and tight end Marcedes Lewis.
Ranked 31st in the NFL in total offense, the Jaguars also are coming off a game in which they had a franchise-record 202 yards in the first quarter and finished with 436.
Getting a win would mean so much for the Jaguars with so many changes likely in the offseason.
“It’s the last time this team, this group of guys, gets to play together, so we really want to finish with a win,” Henne said. “We want to go there on the road, win and then come back with that good feeling and finish off the season.”
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AP Sports Writer Mark Long in Jacksonville, Fla., contributed to this report.
Follow Teresa M. Walker on Twitter: http://twitter.com/teresamwalker
Published in The Messenger 12.28.12