Titans still alive in playoff hunt

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 24, 2011
Matt Hasselbeck and Jared Cook have the Titans still alive in the AFC playoff chase going into their final game of the season. That's something few outside of Tennessee might have predicted for coach Mike Munchak in his first season. Hasselbeck threw for a touchdown, 240 of his 350 yards came in the first half, and Tennessee beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-17 Saturday in their final home game. The Titans (8-7) at least snapped a two-game skid and finished this season 5-3 at home under Munchak. They head to Houston for the finale with a chance at their first winning record since 2008. Cook had a 55-yard TD catch and finished with 169 yards receiving, a franchise high for a tight end. Rob Bironas kicked three field goals, including a pair of 51-yarders, and rookie Jamie Harper ran for his first career touchdown. Maurice Jones-Drew, the NFL's rushing leader with 1,334 yards coming into the game, ran for 103 yards and a touchdown for the Jaguars (4-11). He has a career-high 1,437 yards this season. The Jaguars now have lost five of six in this injury-riddled season. Jacksonville had a sack and forced three turnovers the Jaguars turned into 10 points. They forced two of those in the fourth quarter and missed a big chance when Morgan Trent picked off a ball tipped by Drew Coleman and ran it back to the Tennessee 18. The Titans stopped Jones-Drew on third-and-3 when he carried a direct snap a yard short. Blaine Gabbert then tried to throw into the end zone on fourth-and-1, only to have the ball tipped by Titans cornerback Jason McCourty to safety Michael Griffin for an interception. Dawan Landry recovered a fumble by Harper with 5:38 left at the Tennessee 35. Greg Jones capped the drive with a 1-yard TD run with 3:41 left. The Titans ran out the clock out from there. Chris Johnson finished with 56 yards on 15 carries and remains 14 yards shy of his fourth 1,000-yard season. He had just 10 yards in the first half, not that it mattered as the Titans came out throwing behind Hasselbeck. The 13-year veteran looked fully recovered from the strained left calf that hobbled him a week ago in a loss at Indianapolis. He threw three times to Cook in the first quarter alone, including the TD as the tight end outran a linebacker and jumped into the end zone for a 10-0 lead. Cook's fourth catch gave him a career-high 113 yards early in the second quarter. Hasselbeck had one lone mistake in the first half when defensive end Jeremy Mincey dropped into coverage and picked off a pass. Josh Scobee kicked a 39-yard field goal to pull Jacksonville within 17-10 at halftime. Gabbert looked as sharp as the 10th pick overall has during his rookie season when he drove the Jaguars 82 yards. He completed all five of his passes for 68 yards before Jones-Drew capped the 82-yard drive with his 10-yard run. But Titans rookie Karl Klug sacked Gabbert to end the Jaguars' first drive of the third quarter, and they did a much better job pressuring him the rest of the game.
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