History Lesson (Week 10): Titans 33, Jaguars 14 (1999 AFC Championship Game)

The Jacksonville Jaguars have lost 13 straight games and are one of two winless teams in the National Football League in 2013.

The Tennessee Titans are 4-4 after eight games this season but still two games out of first place in the AFC South.

Derrick Mason
Derrick Mason

The Jaguars have not been to the playoffs since 2007, the Titans since 2008.

But once upon a time in a galaxy extremely close…

Let’s backtrack a bit. Over time you hear about a lot of trends and statistics in the NFL that sound good but simply are not true. One of the most popular is that “it’s hard to be a team three times in a season.” And there was no better example of this misconception than during the 1999 season between a pair of divisional rivals.

Back in 1999, the Cleveland Browns were resurrected (following the franchise’s departure to Baltimore and its subsequent rebirth into the Ravens in 1996). That meant the AFC Central would now house six teams, the only division in the NFL to do so. Joining the Browns and Ravens were the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Cincinnati Bengals, the Titans (formerly the Houston/Tennessee Oilers) and the Jaguars, who were entering just their fifth season of existence.

Tom Coughlin’s team had made a meteoric rise since its debut in 1995, reaching the AFC Championship Game in ’96 and following that with two more playoff appearances. In ’99, the Jaguars were an NFL-best 14-2 and gave up the fewest points in the NFL (217). But Jacksonville’s only two losses that season were to Jeff Fisher’s Titans, who were an impressive 13-3 and like the Jaguars, also found themselves to the playoffs.

Mark Brunell Jaguars
Mark Brunell

Both clubs had memorable performances on their way to meeting in the conference title game. Tennessee used the “Music City Miracle” to stun the Buffalo Bills. Tennessee then surprised the AFC East champion Indianapolis Colts and second-year quarterback Peyton Manning on the road. Meanwhile, the Jaguars humbled the Miami Dolphins, 62-7, in the AFC Divisional Playoffs, the second-most points ever scored in a postseason game. On a side note, it proved to the final game of the magnificent career of eventual Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino.

Off such a dominating performance, Coughlin’s team figured the third time would be the charm against the Titans, especially since this rematch would be at Jacksonville.

But it wasn’t meant to be. While the Jaguars owned a 14-10 halftime lead, they were blanked in the second half by an aroused Tennessee defense, which held quarterback Mark Brunell and company to 154 yards of total offense in the final 30 minutes. Meanwhile, Fisher’s team would score 23 points, keyed by a pair of touchdown runs from quarterback Steve McNair (who rushed for 91 yards in the contest) and an 80-yard punt return for a score by punt returner Derrick Mason. The Titans would go onto Super Bowl XXXIV and lose a very memorable game to the St. Louis Rams.

So by the end of their playoff run, the Jaguars were 0-3 vs. the Titans and 15-0 vs. the rest of the teams they played. Never let it be said that football isn’t a game of matchups.

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