The Tennessee Titans played spoilsport by leading to the elimination of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the regular season finale with a 28-20 victory Sunday afternoon.
This result also benefits the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were desperately hoping for a Jags loss to qualify for the playoffs after having kept their season alive yesterday by beating the Baltimore Ravens.
The Titans, who had lost their last three games, were already excluded from the picture, in last place in their division. Therefore, it is the Houston Texans who finish first in the South section and in fourth place in the American Association. The Texans (4) will host the Cleveland Browns (5) in the first round of the playoffs.
The Bills also confirmed their participation in the playoffs with the defeat of the Jaguars and will try to finish at the top of the AFC East section in a duel against the Dolphins this afternoon (RDS, 8 pm).
The Ravens are first in the AFC and will have a first-round bye.
With a touchdown and a two-point conversion left in the final two minutes of play, Doug Pederson’s men saw victory slip through their fingers.
The Titans took a 7-3 lead in the first quarter when Tyjae Spears ran into the end zone. It was his first passing touchdown of his rookie season.
The Jags responded in the second quarter with a 59-yard touchdown run by Calvin Ridley. Ridley broke away from the cover of Sean Murphy-Bunting, pursued by Elijah Molden, to run towards the other end of the field after latching onto a long, accurate pass from Trevor Lawrence.
The Titans regained the lead thanks to Derrick Henry’s 12th rushing touchdown and the 90th of his career, a franchise record. It ranks 13th in the history of the circuit in this regard.
Terrell Edmunds, one of the teams worst in interceptions, had just the Titans’ fifth this season and they capitalized on it with Spears’ second most. Shortly after, Lawrence was again the victim of an interception, but Ty Zentner missed a throw while trying to punt on fourth down before being tackled to put the Jaguars in better field position than expected. A field goal finally allowed them to get within 21-13 at halftime.
In the second half, the Titans were boosted by an explosive 69-yard run by Derrick Henry that set up a DeAndre Hokpins touchdown run two plays later. Ryan Tannehill had his second touchdown pass of the game in the sequence.
Handcuffed in the third quarter, the Jags brought their troops within 28-20 with an Evan Engram touchdown before an important interception by Andre Cisco, his fourth of the campaign. The Texans, however, limited the damage in the final minute with Lawrence’s sneak pass on goal on fourth down.
Browns look to playoffs, Belichick ordeal ends
Returning to the Cleveland Browns, who will face the Texans in the first round, they concluded the regular schedule with a 31-14 loss at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Browns were already assured of qualifying and finishing fifth in the AFC.
In this unimportant game in which several starters were out, they trailed 31-0 after the third quarter. In relief of Joe Flacco, Jeff Driskel threw two touchdown passes to David Bell in the fourth quarter to avoid the shutout.
In the last 1:00 p.m. duel within this association, the New England Patriots (4-13) ended their worst season under Bill Belichick with a 17-3 loss to the New York Jets. Both teams are excluded from the playoffs.