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George leads way as Titans clinch division

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- One moment, the Tennessee Titans made
the playoffs. The next, they won the division.

Question on the Titans: How far do you see them going in the playoffs?
The Titans are the hot team right right now. They're like last year's Patriots. The Titans have no stars, no Pro Bowlers, but they've been winning as a team. They have the momentum, so they have as good a chance as any other team to make a long playoff run.

Question on the Jaguars: Do you expect major changes on defense or do you anticipate that quarterback might be their top priority?
There could be a coaching change in Jacksonville. When there's a coaching change, everything else changes. Between the two, though, I believe their focus should be defense. The Jags can win with a stronger defense and the same guys on offense. They need to become more physical on defense.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

At this rate, there's no telling how far the Titans might go in
a season that seems to get better by the minute.

Eddie George ran for two scores and Steve McNair threw for
another Sunday to help the Titans embarrass Jacksonville 28-10, a
loss that could send Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin one step closer to
unemployment.

With their ninth win in 10 games, the Titans (10-5) became the
first team in the jumbled AFC to wrap up a playoff spot. A few
minutes later, the Giants closed out a 44-27 win over the Colts,
which made Tennessee the first champion of the new AFC South.

There was a muted celebration afterward -- the sign of a team
that knows it could be playing for much more than just a division
title this season.

"It's what we expected to do at the beginning of the season,
and obviously, we've still got a lot of work ahead of us,'' Titans
coach Jeff Fisher said.

The Jaguars (6-9) were guaranteed their third straight losing
season, and Coughlin was booed frequently before a paltry crowd of
51,033 in the last home game of the season.

Only a garbage touchdown with 8 seconds left prevented
Jacksonville's most lopsided loss at home. A biplane that flew over
the stadium summed up the mood of the city with the message it
carried that read, simply, "Coughlin?''

"It doesn't matter if he's the head coach or someone else is
the head coach,'' Jaguars cornerback Fernando Bryant said.
"Tennessee is Tennessee. They beat us, and it wasn't because the
stands were half full or anything else.''

Indeed, coaching and crowd noise weren't nearly enough for
Jacksonville to overcome the obvious talent disparity on the field.
Of course, Coughlin, who doubles as a personnel man, is ultimately
responsible for his team's talent shortcomings, too.

"It's frustrating to have a team playing its best football of
the year come in here and not be able to compete with them,''
Coughlin said.

The Titans, as they usually do, pushed the Jaguars around on
both sides of the ball. George ran for 89 yards on 21 carries.
Playing with sore ribs and an achy lower back, McNair ran for a
season-high 58 yards, threw for 115 more and hit Derrick Mason for
a 5-yard score early in the fourth quarter for a 28-3 lead.

Tennessee outgained Jacksonville 298-214, held the ball for 11
more minutes and recorded four sacks, including two by Jevon Kearse. In all, it was hard to believe this was the team that
didn't send a single player to the Pro Bowl.

"I think we've been playing with a chip on our shoulder the
whole year,'' linebacker Keith Bulluck said. "For this team to be
one of the hottest teams in the NFL, and for no one to go to
represent Tennessee in Honolulu is absurd. People are just going to
have to feel the wrath.''

In the third quarter, Jacksonville quarterback Mark Brunell
pulled up lame with a hamstring strain. With that, the three
players Jacksonville depended on to make plays this year -- Brunell,
Jimmy Smith and Fred Taylor -- had all missed portions of the game
with injuries.

Not that they were great to begin with. Brunell left with 114
yards passing, Taylor (ankle) ran for 17 yards and Smith (shoulder)
had three catches for 14 yards.

Just before he left, Brunell was under pressure and threw a
floater to the middle of the field. Peter Sirmon stepped in for the
pick and returned it untouched for a 21-3 lead.

Tennessee began the season 1-4, including a dispiriting 52-25
loss to the Raiders. But Fisher kept his team together and the
Titans began their hot streak Oct. 13 with a 23-14 victory over --
who else? -- Jacksonville.

"Words can't describe how I feel right now,'' Titans cornerback
Samari Rolle said. "It means a lot, especially after the 1-4
start.''

The Titans are 7-2 against the Jaguars since 1999, the season
they won all three meetings against Jacksonville en route to the
Super Bowl.

And while Tennessee has a good shot to return, the Jaguars have
never been the same. Coughlin is 19-28 over the last three seasons
and this may have been the most disheartening of all those losses.

"Only one man will really decide what happens with
everything,'' Brunell said, speaking of owner Wayne Weaver. "And
we'll see what happens.''

Game notes
George surpassed 1,000 yards for sixth time in seven
seasons and 1,063. ... McNair went above 3,000 yards rushing and
joined Steve Young, Randall Cunningham, John Elway and Fran
Tarkenton as the only quarterbacks with 18,000 yards passing and
3,000 rushing. ... Jaguars WR Bobby Shaw caught his 41st pass, a
career high.

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