Gardner Minshew threw two touchdown passes and should have had a third, Calais Campbell spearheaded another defensive gem and the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Tennessee Titans 20-7 in sloppy conditions Thursday night.
Jacksonville (1-2) ended a four-game losing streak in the AFC South series and avoided the franchise’s second 0-3 start in four years.
Minshew Mania, meanwhile, picked up momentum.
With all eyes on star cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who may have played his final game for Jacksonville, Minshew and a second straight stellar defensive outing captured the spotlight.
A sixth-round draft pick starting his second consecutive game in place of injured Nick Foles (broken collarbone), Minshew completed 20 of 30 passes for 204 yards. He found James O’Shaughnessy wide open for a 7-yard score, which came one play after Adoree’ Jackson’s muffed punt. Minshew was more precise with a 22-yard touchdown pass to DJ Chark, who was blanketed by Malcolm Butler.
Jacksonville sacked Marcus Mariota nine times, including three by Campbell.
One of his came on a highly questionable fourth-down attempt. Titans coach Mike Vrabel, with his team trailing 14-0 early in the third, passed on a short field goal and went for it on fourth-and-6 at the 11.
Campbell abused backup guard Jamil Douglas, and Mariota had no time to get rid of the ball.
The Titans (1-2) finally got on the scoreboard with Derrick Henry’s 1-yard plunge early in the fourth. Henry finished with 44 yards on 17 carries, a far cry from his last game against Jacksonville. Henry ran for a franchise-record 238 yards and four touchdowns, including the second 99-yard run in NFL history (Tony Dorsett, 1983), in December.
Jacksonville wasn’t going to let it happen again, stacking the box and doing a much better job tackling the 247-pound back.
Even Ramsey got in a couple of shots on the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner.
Ramsey stunned the franchise by requesting a trade four days earlier, wanting out after his sideline exchange with coach Doug Marrone. Ramsey told the Uninterrupted “17 Weeks” podcast that “some disrespectful things were said on their end” in a meeting after that game.
Ramsey insisted he didn’t want to be a distraction. And clearly he wasn’t, at least not on the field.
The Jaguars enjoyed a 14-point lead in the first quarter for the first time since Week 2 of last season against New England and just the third time in the last five seasons.
The officiating was roundly ripped — in the stands and around the country. The most notable: Titans linebacker Kamalei Correa was questionably flagged for roughing the passer in the second quarter, and Tennessee cornerback Logan Ryan was called for pass interference after barely touching Dede Westbrook.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady tweeted, “Too many penalties. Just let us play!!!!” He followed that tweet without another one a few minutes later, saying “I’m turning off this game I can’t watch these ridiculous penalties anymore.”
Suspended Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan later added, “Wow, who would have thought that the refs would mess up so many calls?”