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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, December 18, 2006

Titans turn back Jags, 24-17

Associated Press

Titans defensive end Travis LaBoy, a former Hawai'i standout, consoles Jaguars quarterback David Garrard after safety Chris Hope intercepted Garrard and ran 61 yards to put Tennessee ahead 24-10.

MARK HUMPHREY | Associated Press

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. The Tennessee Titans found three more ways to keep their magical ride alive.

The 24 points in 10 minutes to beat the New York Giants? Stunning. A 60-yard field goal to beat Indianapolis? Historical. Vince Young's 39-yard touchdown run in overtime at Houston? Impressive.

Yesterday, Young and the offense couldn't move the ball against the Jaguars. So the Titans' defense beat up David Garrard and returned turnovers 83, 92 and 61 yards for touchdowns and beat Jacksonville, 24-17, for their fifth straight victory.

Credit a franchise-record three defensive TDs and a team-record 370 yards of returns.

"I was just thinking, 'Don't get caught,' " rookie Cortland Finnegan said of his 92-yard fumble return for a TD. "I just wanted to get in the end zone and put some points up on the board. You run faster when a play like that happens, and then you find out how winded you are at the end. It was a fun thing."

Adam "Pacman" Jones returned an interception 83 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead. Then the Titans broke open a 10-10 game in the third quarter despite the Jaguars running 32 consecutive offensive plays not counting a penalty that nullified a 33rd.

Finnegan picked up Garrard's fumble and returned it for the go-ahead TD with 4:51 left in the third period. Six plays later, safety Chris Hope picked off a pass and ran 61 yards up the left sideline for a 24-10 lead.

"To have to play that number of plays against them consecutively, I've got to take my hat off to our defensive guys," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. "A valiant effort to be on the field that long, and you've got to give the defense credit for this win."

Tennessee (7-7) won for the seventh time in nine games, keeping its faint playoff hopes alive. The Titans' defense was on the field for 82 plays over 44 minutes, 22 seconds, but had five sacks and forced four turnovers.

With Jacksonville (8-6) losing, Indianapolis clinched the AFC South title the Colts couldn't grab last week when they were routed 44-17 by the Jaguars. Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio said his team played well except for the turnovers.

"It's the great neutralizer. You can't lose a turnover battle like that, and you can't have those turnovers returned for touchdowns," Del Rio said.

The Jaguars rolled up 396 yards despite losing running back Fred Taylor to a strained right hamstring on his second carry. Rookie Maurice Drew scored his 13th TD this season on a 12-yard run in the first quarter and finished with 98 yards. He left the game in the fourth quarter with a left leg injury.

Jacksonville pulled within 24-17 on Garrard's 3-yard TD toss to Matt Jones with 2:37 to go, and the Jaguars tried an onside kick. Stephen Tulloch recovered for Tennessee, but the Titans had to punt it back with 61 seconds left.

Three plays later, Reynaldo Hill picked off Garrard's pass to seal the victory.

"I have never been a part of a day quite like this; I don't even know if I have seen a day quite like this," Garrard said. "It is upsetting, and I definitely have a horrible taste in my mouth."

PATRIOTS 40, TEXANS 7

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. The Patriots (10-4) raced to a 27-0 halftime lead behind Kevin Faulk's two touchdowns and Tom Brady's two scoring passes to trounce the Texans (4-10).

New England also had four sacks and three interceptions and outgained Houston 147 to 76 in the first two quarters.

After Ron Dayne ran 1 yard to close the Texans to 27-7, Ellis Hobbs returned the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for his first NFL touchdown.

RAVENS 27, BROWNS 17

BALTIMORE Kyle Boller, who replaced an injured Steve McNair (gash on right hand), threw an interception and lost a fumble, but passed for 238 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Ravens (11-3) past the Browns (4-10).

Jamal Lewis ran 22 times for 109 yards and a touchdown for Baltimore, which is assured a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2003. The Ravens will win the AFC North if Cincinnati loses to Indianapolis tonight.

Former Baltimore draft choice Derek Anderson went 23 for 32 for 233 yards, and his touchdown throws to Joe Jurevicius and Braylon Edwards brought the Browns out of a 17-3 hole before Boller put Baltimore back in control.

BILLS 21, DOLPHINS 0

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. J.P. Losman overcame wet and blustery conditions, throwing three touchdown passes to lift the Bills (7-7) over the Dolphins (6-8), who were eliminated from postseason contention despite losing for only the second time in seven weeks.

Losman went 13 of 19 for 200 yards, including scoring strikes of 33 yards to Robert Royal, 27 yards to Josh Reed and 21 yards to Lee Evans.

Miami's Joey Harrington went 5 of 17 for 20 yards passing and two interceptions before being benched. Sammy Morris had 71 yards rushing.