Tennessee Titans safety Kevin Byard perfectly summed up the team’s 37-19 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday at TIAA Bank Field.
"It was a must-win for us," he said.
Of course, it’s hard to fully buy into a Week 5 regular season game being a true must-win, but given how embarrassing Tennessee’s Week 4 loss to the New York Jets was, Byard may not be too far off.
If Tennessee lost back-to-back games, it would have been difficult to dig itself out of that kind of hole in the AFC. The Titans are the only division leader league-wide (except for the Baltimore Ravens, who play Monday night) without four wins this season.
"It was a division game,” Byard continued. “We understand that all of our division games are must-win and are going to be tough. We kind of came off an emotional roller coaster losing to the Jets, but we had to flush it and get ready for the Jaguars. Not going to apologize for winning. Obviously, it wasn't pretty; it wasn't perfect at all. We’ve got a lot of stuff to clean up, but I'm happy we got a win down here.”
The win came at an integral time as the next four-game stretch in the Titans’ schedule is brutal with back-to-back home games against the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs and two straight road games at the Indianapolis Colts and the Los Angeles Rams.
“Just happy to get this one, get back on track and play cleaner games,” tackle Taylor Lewan said. “Getting the O-line to play better, that’s the goal. Start hitting this stride, we have a big stretch coming up and a big game coming up Monday night.”
It would have been hard to recover from a 2-3 record heading into those next four games, especially given three of those four offenses have scored more than the Titans, plus the Bills and Colts boast the NFL’s No. 1 and No. 9 scoring defenses, respectively.
“Whenever you get a division win, no matter what their record is, in the NFL it’s hard to win in this league, so it gives us momentum,” receiver A.J. Brown said. “It gives us some confidence. We’ve got to go back and clean up some stuff we didn’t do well on. But we’ve got a big game on Monday night against Buffalo. They’re a good team.”
While getting back into the win column was the most important part of Sunday, there still was much left to be desired. The Titans scored a defensive touchdown on the first drive of the game, but immediately let Jacksonville come back and score.
Instead of putting away a lesser opponent riding a 19-game losing streak with a rookie quarterback who’s second in the NFL in interceptions, the Titans nearly flirted with disaster on an Urban Myer level.
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