The Titans had a power running game, some play-action success and even a defensive stop down the stretch.
Nate Washington scored on a 30-yard reception in the fourth quarter and Tennessee stuffed Maurice Jones-Drew on a key fourth down late — both equally huge in helping the Titans beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-16 and end a three-game losing streak Sunday.
It also may have bolstered Munchak’s shaky job security.
“The second half was finally how we wanted to play,” said Munchak, whose team had lost eight of 10 games since September.
The Titans (6-9) overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half and held Jacksonville (4-11) to 85 yards after the break. The best work came on the ground, where Shonn Greene and Chris Johnson combined for 181 yards.
The key plays, though, came from Washington and the defense.
Washington slipped behind Alan Ball and caught Ryan Fitzpatrick’s pass early in the fourth period for the go-ahead score. He finished with six catches for 117 yards.
The Jaguars were in position to take the lead after that, but Ropati Pitoitua stymied Jones-Drew on a fourth-and-1 play at the Tennessee 20 with 5:21 remaining.
“We were down 10, playing on the road again, not playing as good in the first half as we had hoped, and all of a sudden this thing could have gone the other way,” Munchak said. “It didn’t. We’re not happy with this season. The best we could do is to finish out the season by beating two division teams. We got one today, finally, and we’ll be doing our best to get one at home next week.”
Tennessee closes the season against lowly Houston, and winning out could help Munchak’s case.
“There were a lot of reasons it was an important game for us,” Fitzpatrick said. “Just the locker room after, to get that winning feeling back, to be able to get in victory formation at the end of the game and take a knee, that’s the kind of stuff you want.
“We haven’t been able to feel that for a long time.”
The game was one of three on this weekend’s NFL schedule with no playoff implications. But it proved to be entertaining — thanks mostly to retiring Jacksonville center Brad Meester.
The Jaguars honored Meester with a reception — the pass-catching kind.
Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch called a screen play for the 14-year veteran who announced Wednesday that Sunday’s game would be his home finale.
Meester reported as an eligible receiver, moved from center to tight end and then caught the screen pass. He had fellow offensive linemen Uche Nwaneri and Austin Pasztor out front and plenty of open space.
“The thing that ran through my head was ‘Don’t drop the ball,’” Meester said. “I knew I would catch a lot of flak if I got open one time in my life and I dropped the ball. That was the one thing I was focusing on is catching it. I caught it, got a few yards, would have loved to have scored. That’s something I will always remember.”
Thing got a little ugly after the catch, maybe expected for someone making his first career reception.
Meester ran right into Nwaneri’s backside.
“I couldn’t figure out what to do,” Meester said. “Am I going outside? Am I going inside? Is he moving? I stuck there for a while and finally went inside and there were a couple of guys waiting for me. I was excited to know I got the first down.”
The play gained 9 yards and set up Chad Henne’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Marcedes Lewis. It was Lewis’ fourth consecutive game with a TD reception.
The Jaguars were up 13-6 after Henne hooked up with Mike Brown late in the first half, but Josh Scobee’s extra point was blocked. That proved big, especially when Jacksonville was in field-goal range late but had to go on fourth down.
“I don’t think our guys flinched one bit,” Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. “Sometimes, I told them, you can’t climb a smooth mountain. There’s going to be roughness on the journey, and we need those spots to learn from.”
Titans Tidbits: Johnson needs 50 yards rushing to become the sixth player in NFL history to run for 1,000 yards in each of his first six seasons. ... Jones-Drew finished with 45 yards on the ground, becoming the 46th player in NFL history to top 8,000 yards rushing. ... Lewis’ fourth straight game with a TD catch tied the franchise record held by Reggie Williams (2007) and Cecil Shorts III (2012).