|National Football League|
Jags say they're ready for playoffs after losing 2 straight
By TERESA M. WALKER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Jacksonville has hit its first adversity at the worst possible moment, not that any of the Jaguars sound worried.
They're heading home.
Blake Bortles was intercepted twice, and the Jaguars turned it over four times as the AFC South champs found themselves swept Sunday by division rival Tennessee 15-10. It's the second straight loss for the Jaguars, and their longest skid this season.
Yet they also know they will host Jacksonville's first playoff game since the AFC championship game in January 2000, and they will be hosting the Buffalo Bills on the second day of wild-card weekend.
"Whenever you have adversity in life and what you do, there's always that comfort of going home," coach Doug Marrone said of his Jaguars. "We've earned the opportunity to play a home playoff game, and we're excited to be at home."
The Jaguars (10-6) snapped a four-game streak of scoring at least 30 points in being held to a season-low in points.
Both of these losses came on the road away from EverBank Field where fans are so excited for the postseason that the tarps have been removed to open more seats for sale.
Bortles said the Jaguars know they have to play better, especially after the defense came up with three sacks and Yannick Ngakoue scored their lone touchdown of the game.
Ngakoue scooped up a fumble after Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota collided with Derrick Henry on a handoff and went 67 yards for a touchdown that pulled the Jags within 15-10 with 10:48 left. That was the Jaguars' seventh defensive TD this season, a franchise record. It's also the most by an NFL team since the 2013 Kansas City Chiefs had seven.
"Everybody's upset mainly at the fact that I don't think anybody feels as though we've played up to our potential and the way we can," Bortles said.
"I think we were excited and we were looking forward to this game and to be able to come in here and play these guys. We didn't play the game we wanted to play at all, so we've got to be better than that."
Bortles believes the Jaguars will be fine despite the skid.
"I personally have got a good amount of experience in losing, so we should be able to overcome that," Bortles said.
Leonard Fournette finished with 69 yards on 19 carries, making him the first rookie running back since Fred Taylor to run for 1,000 yards in their first season for Jacksonville.
The Jaguars got wide receiver Allen Hurns back in the lineup for the first time since Nov. 12 after a high ankle sprain cost him six games. Hurns finished with three catches for 38 yards, including a long of 18. Marqise Lee was scratched as he recovers from an ankle as well.
But Bortles could use some more experience back on the field. Rookie Dede Westbrook dropped a would-be touchdown in the end zone and struggled as he caught only one of the nine passes thrown at him.
"I didn't execute the play and so it's good I have next week to bounce back and I owe the next one to the team," Westbrook said.
"At the end of the day, I think we're fine. We're going to be great. I can speak for myself, I needed this game. It's just up to me to make up for it next week."
Safety Barry Church, who Mariota knocked down with a stiff-arm on a key run in the fourth quarter, isn't worried about momentum going into the postseason. He said he believes it starts over with each new game.
"Momentum goes up and down throughout the game, and we weren't able to capture that as a whole as a defense," Church said. "We definitely want to do that next week."
AP freelance writer Brian Hinchman contributed to this report.
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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker
Updated December 31, 2017