The Jacksonville Jaguars are AFC South champions for the first time in five years, a title clinched when Josh Allen returned a fumble 37-yards for a touchdown. This helped them seal a 20-16 victory over Tennessee on Saturday night.
Rayshawn Jenkins forced the fumble off of Josh Dobbs. Allen then picked up the ball and ran, untouched, the other way to take a lead that was held against the Titans in a game win and go into the final regular season game for both.
Dobbs fumbled again on the next possession, and the Jaguars (9-8) began celebrating their most significant regular-season win in franchise history.
“This was one of those games where our defense had to win for us,” Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence said. “Us guys on offense are a little bit frustrated that we left a lot out, but in these games, we just won. Our defense picked us up today. They played great.”
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Jacksonville earned the No. 4 seed in the conference playoffs and will host either the Los Angeles Chargers or Baltimore in the wild-card round next weekend.
It marks the 18th time in the past 20 seasons that at least one NFL team has won its division after finishing last or tied last the previous year.
Jacksonville closed out the regular season with its fifth consecutive win and became the fifth team in NFL history to reach the playoffs on a five-loss, five-win streak in the same season.
“We continue to believe,” Lawrence said. “No one ever lost faith. Everybody believed in each other. We never started pointing fingers. We lost five games in a row and became more united.”
Tennessee (7-10) has lost its last seven games, a streak that saw almost all of them written off before the end of Saturday.
JAGUARS AND TITANS TOGETHER FOR GROUP PRAYER BY DAMAR HAMLIN IN THE PRE-GAME MIDDLE OF DO-OR-DIE
The Titans rested several starters last week and essentially created a 10-day layoff to get healthy. They went back to their football style and it looked like they were going to make an unlikely turnaround, until Dobbs’ rotation changed the game.
The Jaguars were 6 1/2-point favorites, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, and a nearly sold-out crowd was on hand to witness what many thought would be more of a coronation than a scratch-and-nail-biter.
The Titans didn’t do anything spectacular. With quarterback Ryan Tannehill (ankle) out for the season, they leaned on Dobbs, an aerospace engineer who has bounced around the league, for ball savvy and Derrick Henry for tough yardage. And they relied on a defense that has been strong against the run all year.
It worked for 37 minutes, and then it fell apart.
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Henry finished with 109 yards on 30 carries. Dobbs completed 20 of 29 passes for 179 yards, with a touchdown, an interception and a fumble.
Lawrence completed 20 of 32 passes for 212 yards, with one touchdown and one fumble. Lawrence had two touchdown attempts in the second half of the incomplete knockdown. He ousted Zay Jones in the end zone and knocked down Christian Kirk.