The Jacksonville Jaguars were well on their way to achieving a Super Bowl as a part of their 5 yr plan from expansion. An upset win over Denver in the 96 playoffs was the launching pad and after a few roster improvements were ready to do it in 1999!! They were loaded and would steamroll…*huh?*…I’m supposed to be talkin’ about who?*…alright tell Eddie George I’ll call him back…*ahem*
Well everything was going according to plan when they traveled north to play their rivals Tennessee Titans with a lot on the line in a week 15 match-up. With the chance to gain homefield advantage, cement that they were the dominant team in the AFC Central (South not created yet), and with only 169 points given up were within striking distance of the NFL record of 187 points given up by the ’86 Bears.
Man what an asswhoopin’!! The Tennessee Titans lit into them like the Jaguars had stolen something from their mother’s house. A 41-14 destruction that ruined the psyche of the Jacksonville franchise while sending a clear message that Tennesse would be a force themselves come playoff time, but surely they wouldn’t see them again…would they??
Oh the agony when I see this ring being a Buffalo fan…sigh The Music City Miracle was a damn forward lateral…yet I digress. **deep breaths** ahem… where was I?
Ahh yes the 1999 AFC Champion Tennessee Titans. This team totally derailed the Jacksonville Jaguar franchise.
Although they finished with a 13-3 record, they were the wildcard behind the AFC Central champion Jaguars at 14-2. The two best records ever for two teams in the same division which came with a unique twist: Although the Jaguars lost only 2 games all year, they were both to Tennessee. The Titans finally had a home they could call their own after 3 yrs of wandering the desert once they left the Houston Astrodome in moving to Nashville.
The Titans were powered on offense by Eddie George from Ohio St. who bludgeoned defenders with his running style for over 1,300 yards. Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews & John Runyan were leaders on a very physical line. The late Steve McNair was a developing quarterback who had his struggles in 1999 but was a legitimate running threat himself. In that 41-14 thrashing he threw for 5 of his 12 TDs for the season. He had a short to intermediate passing game that complimented their running game.
However the story of this team was defense. Led by Blaine Bishop at SS, Barron Wortham LB, Marcus Robertson FS, and who could forget the rookie season of Jevon “The Freak” Kearse DE, who set the league record for sacks as a rookie with 13 1/2. This team came off the ball with a physicality the AFC hadn’t seen since the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier in the 90s.
Going into the ’99 playoffs there was a changing of the guard. Gone were the two time champion Broncos and with the upstart Colts in the playoffs there was an air of parity on the AFC side of the ledger. The Titans first step was the wildcard tilt over Buffalo at home. Behind with :22 left and the Bills having just pulled ahead 16-15…*I can get thru this*…. then the kickoff where Frank Wycheck throws the ball across field to Kevin Dyson who takes it to the endzone with :08 seconds left.
It was a miracle finish of epic proportions and the energy and momentum sent the Titans hurtling through the heavens where they took down the favored Colts in Indianapolis the following week. Which earned the Titans an all expenses paid trip to Jacksonville for the AFC Championship Game. Even though they ran over Miami 62-7 in the playoffs, they were still fearful of Tennessee.
No way the Titans could come in and outhit them again. Well by virtue of a 30-14 thrashing. The Titans owned the Jaguars who were never the same after that ’99 Championship.
Now we know they go on to play a competitive Super Bowl against the Rams and came up one yard short but don’t forget that injuries are a part of the game. The Titans lost FS Marcus Robertson to injury in the AFC Championship Game after a 1st half interception, and Blaine Bishop SS fell to an injury in the 3rd quarter of the Super Bowl. Why am I bringing this up?? Kurt Warner’s 73yd touchdown to Isaac Bruce to pull ahead of the Titans 23-16 was his ONLY completion of the 4th quarter, and it was thrown on TWO backup safeties in Perry Phoenix and Anthony Dorsett.
McNair, in a display of immense heart, willed the Titans downfield on a last second drive to bring Super Bowl XXXIV to a crescendo. On the last play with :07 left from the 10, McNair hit Kevin Dyson hoping for another miracle finish. This time Ram Linebacker Mike Jones brought down an outstretched Dyson at the 1 as time ran out.
So did they come up a yard short or a few injuries short??
This is the jewel for their fine season….and it WAS a forward lateral….*sigh*
This article is dedicated to the memories of Steve McNair and owner Bud Adams.