Patriots

AFC: Titans score on first five second-half possessions, coast past Jaguars, 37-16

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AFC: Titans score on first five second-half possessions, coast past Jaguars, 37-16

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Derrick HenryDelanie Walker and Jalston Fowler each ran for touchdowns, and the Tennessee Titans dominated the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second half for a 37-16 victory.

The result was probably more indicative of what to expect from the AFC South rivals than what each showed in their season openers.

Henry finished with a career-high 92 yards on the ground for the Titans (1-1), including 87 in the final two quarters.

Starting running back DeMarco Murray spent much of the second half standing on the sideline and wearing a baseball cap backward, seemingly uninjured.

There was no need to risk him in this one, the third consecutive lopsided score in the series.

Marcus Mariota, returning to the place where he broke his right leg last December, completed 15 of 27 passes for 215 yards. He had a 32-yard touchdown pass to Jonnu Smith in the final quarter.

Tennessee's performance surely eased some concerns about a 10-point home loss to Oakland in the opener.

Jacksonville's home opener felt eerily similar to most of the team's performances the previous five years: Lackluster offense and mistakes all over the field.

Blake Bortles threw two interceptions, including one on a ball tipped at the line, and fumbled once. He completed 20 of 34 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown to Allen Hurns in the closing minutes. Much of Bortles' yardage came in garbage time.

Rookie Leonard Fournette scored for the second time in as many games, but this one came with the game out of reach. Tennessee led 30-3 before Fournette found the end zone. Fournette finished with 40 yards on 14 carries.

The Jaguars (1-1) enjoyed a near-perfect opener at Houston. Fournette ran the ball with authority behind a surprisingly stout offensive line. Bortles played sack- and turnover-free football for just the second time in 45 career starts. And the defense allowed 203 yards, forced four turnovers and had 10 sacks.

Jacksonville looked nothing like that against Tennessee.

And coach Doug Marrone's smash-mouth style became a non-factor once the Titans went up by double digits.

The team's biggest issues were turnovers (three) and penalties (10).

Tennessee scored on its first five possessions of the second half - a field goal and four touchdowns.

INJURIES

Titans rookie receiver Corey Davis injured a hamstring. Fellow receiver Taywan Taylor injured his left ankle on punt coverage in the second quarter, but later returned.

Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson left the game with a groin injury in the third quarter. Linebacker Lerentee McCray injured a knee in the third and did not return. Defensive tackle Michael Bennett left the game with a pectoral injury.

CHIPPY

Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey got a little chippy after Walker's 1-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter. Ramsey pushed Walker after he was in the end zone and was flagged for unnecessary roughness. Several players exchanged words as Mariota grabbed Ramsey and whispered something into this ear.

UP NEXT

The Titans host Seattle next Sunday. Tennessee has lost six of the past seven in the series.

The Jaguars travel to London to play Baltimore. It will be Jacksonville's sixth consecutive season playing at Wembley Stadium, the most of any NFL team. The Jaguars have won the past two, both thanks to huge plays late from Hurns.

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

None of us thought Johnson Bademosi would be starting this past Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Jets because -- well -- that’s not what we perceive the 27-year-old to be. He’s a special teamer. It’s how he’s made his mark in the NFL dating back to 2012 with Cleveland. So why would that change in mid-October for a team he’s only been with for six weeks? Because Bademosi is -- and has always been -- intent on proving he’s more than a niche player.

“I see myself as a football player,” he said, “and whatever position they put me in, I’m going to try to be the best because that’s how I operate and who I am as a person. Whether that’s as a cornerback, on special teams, if they ask me to play wildcat quarterback. Whatever…”

MORE PATRIOTS:

Bill Belichick and his staff asked for Bademosi to go on the field and not come off. He played 73 defensive snaps in addition to his usual core four special teams duties. 

“I felt like I played a whole game,” Bademosi joked, before saying, “I love playing football so I’m going to go out there and empty myself.”

He did just that, getting targeted only two times in the 24-17 win over the Jets. It was hoped that Bademosi would return to his normal specialist role, but with Stephon Gilmore still out with a concussion, it now seems more and more likely that the sixth year pro will have to be an ironman again Sunday night in primetime against the Falcons. Historically, the Pats have defended bigger receivers. That means Bademosi may be responsible for one of the most dangerous players in the league, Julio Jones.

“He’s an amazing player," he said. “We all know what he’s capable of. As a defense, we have to be prepared for him.”

The Pats were on Super Bowl Sunday and Jones still made a couple of ridiculous plays with either Logan Ryan or Eric Rowe in coverage with safety help over the top.

“He’s fast. He’s physical. He can jump. He can run. He’s smart. He’s everything you want in a wide receiver,” said Bademosi without blinking an eye. That’s the kind of confidence you want from a player at that position and facing this type of challenge. 

“You gotta believe in yourself,” he said “ I’m confident in my abilities. I work hard and trust my preparation.”

Being an elite athlete certainly helps. Bademosi was a scholarship football player at Stanford -- “some guy named Jim Harbaugh called” -- before ending up in the NFL. But it’s Bademosi’s willingness to go all in in the film room that impressed safety Devin McCourty. 

“…I think, honestly, the most work he did was probably with just himself jumping into the film, watching more stuff to exactly see,” said McCourty Thursday. “You know, when you’re a backup more, you’re kind of trying to see everything because you don’t know what role you might be thrust upon once you’re in the game. But, I think once he knew he was starting, it was kind of like, ‘Alright, let me focus in on this.’ I thought he did an awesome job of just being ready and competing.”

Bademosi will have to compete his ass off Sunday night, even against what has been to this point a physically compromised Jones. Based on what he did several days ago, there’s no reason to believe the Pats cornerback won’t bring everything he has, trying to prove again that he’s more than just a special teams whiz.

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