Lawrence stopped short of goal line as Jags eliminated from playoff race in 28-20 loss to Titans


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Trevor Lawrence had every chance to play the Jacksonville Jaguars into the playoffs for a second straight year as the AFC South champs.

He wound up stopped short of the goal line with 7:13 left, and he also turned the ball over on downs with 1:47 left as the Tennessee Titans eliminated the Jaguars 28-20 Sunday in their regular-season finale.

The Jaguars (9-8) came in needing a win to clinch a second straight AFC South title for the first back-to-back crowns since 1998 and 1999. Their loss makes Houston the division champs, costing the Jaguars their only way into the postseason after Pittsburgh also won Saturday.

Jacksonville controlled its fate starting 8-3 and finished losing five of six. Lawrence, who returned after missing last week with a sprained shoulder, was intercepted twice. The Jaguars also turned the ball over on downs three times — twice in the final 7:10.

Lawrence tried to rally the Jaguars from a 15-point deficit with a 14-yard TD pass to Evan Engram at the start of the fourth quarter.

The Titans, with the NFL’s stingiest defense inside their 20, stopped Lawrence a foot short as he tried to reach the ball to the goal line on fourth-and-goal from the 1.

The Jaguars had one final chance, getting the ball back with 2:18 remaining and no timeouts left. Lawrence’s deep pass went off Calvin Ridley’s fingertips, then Lawrence threw incomplete on the next two downs with the last nowhere close to Engram.

Tennessee’s win makes the Texans the AFC South champs and the No. 4 seed, who will host No. 5 seed Cleveland in the wild-card round. Pittsburgh and Buffalo, who visits Miami in the final game of the regular season on Sunday night, both clinched playoff berths with Jacksonville eliminated.

Pittsburgh now needs Miami to beat Buffalo to clinch the No. 6 seed, though the Steelers would be the seventh seed with a Bills’ win. Some Steelers fans waved Terrible Towels at Nissan Stadium, cheering as the Titans helped their team reach the playoffs.

Derrick Henry ran for a season-high 153 yards and a touchdown, helping the Titans (6-11) finish on a winning note after they had been eliminated from playoff contention earlier than at any prior point in coach Mike Vrabel’s six-season tenure.

This win snapped a three-game skid and also gave them a measure of revenge after the Jaguars kept the Titans from a third straight AFC South title in last season’s finale.

Henry, fresh off being voted to his fourth Pro Bowl, got a huge ovation when introduced last. He turned 30 on Thursday, and this is his last game under contract. The two-time NFL rushing champ put on a show. Henry ran for an 18-yard touchdown to put Tennessee up 7-3 early.

Henry broke off a 69-yard run on the first drive of the third, setting up Tannehill’s 6-yard TD pass to DeAndre Hopkins for a 28-13 lead. Tannehill also started his last game under contract with rookie Will Levis sidelined by an injured right foot.

Tennessee, with only four interceptions all season, got two on consecutive drives in that quarter to take a 21-13 lead into halftime.

Safety Terrell Edmunds got his hands under a ball dropped by Engram for the Titans’ fifth interception this season. Tyjae Spears finished the short drive with a 3-yard TD run for a 21-10 lead late in the second.

Lawrence overthrew Zay Jones on the next drive, and cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting got the pick.


The Jaguars will have to look at what went wrong in losing five of their final six.

Even with this win, the Titans must look closely at everything as general manager Ran Carthon goes into his second offseason with the second-most salary cap space in the NFL after having to cut a lot of veterans to free up space after being hired less than a year ago.



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