NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Scattered throughout the Tennessee Titans' four-game losing skid, coach Ken Whisenhunt was forced to talk about inexperienced guys failing to make a positive difference.
Sunday, after the Titans moved to 2-4 with a 16-14 victory over the winless Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee's coach was in the new position to talk about several young guys who made sure the win happened.
Maligned second-year cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson tied the team-high with 11 tackles, intercepted rookie quarterback Blake Bortles and broke up another pass. Rookie inside linebacker Avery Williamson recovered a fumble. Rookie nickelback Marqueston Huff recorded a sack.
And on offense, first-round tackle Taylor Lewan started an NFL game for the first time. While film review will allow more of a critique, he seemed to fare well though the line had some communication issues. While rookie running back Bishop Sankey wasn't especially productive, he got the bulk of the work with 18 of Tennessee's 24 carries.
"We've been harping these last couple games that we've gotten to the corner, we just haven't turned it yet," veteran receiver Nate Washington said. "I think today we might have turned that corner with the help of these young guys. We just have to continue to build."
It's easy to look at the competition and say the Titans are only two points better at home than a team that's 0-6, and it took a last-second blocked field goal to get there. Tennessee could have made easier work of it, certainly, but the Titans weren't given the option of playing anyone else Sunday at LP Field.
And perhaps the young contributors get a boost of confidence that translates in their performance next week in Washington or the week after that against Houston.
"I definitely feel like we're going to build the confidence of the young guys," said Williamson, who wore the coach-to-player communication device for the second consecutive week.
While the Titans felt like they were in control of the game, they were never able to build the lead enough to get out of harm's way.
Up just 13-7 in the third quarter, they allowed the Jaguars to move 61 yards in 14 plays in what had the feel of a go-ahead drive. But Allen Hurns stumbled and Bortles made a bad choice, allowing Wreh-Wilson to jump the route, snatch his first interception and bring it back 34 yards.
When the Jaguars mounted another threatening drive in the fourth quarter, Jason McCourty stripped the ball from Cecil Shorts after he got to the Titans' 26 with a catch, and Williamson bent his knees, plucked it and took it 41 yards.
The two takeaways deflated the Jaguars, who started with field position at their 20-yard line or inside it on the first 10 of their 11 possessions. They were the sort of plays the Titans have been missing in losses to Dallas, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Cleveland.
Of the rookies, Wreh-Wilson's spirited performance may have been the most significant. He was heavily penalized in his fist four games and allowed a terrible touchdown reception by Andy Dalton on a trick play in Cincinnati on Sept. 21, failing to intercept the ball or deck the quarterback.
Wreh-Wilson was a scratch last week in the collapse against the Browns because of a concussion suffered in Indianapolis.
In his return, he helped give the Titans some fire on defense in their first game without their outspoken leader, safety Bernard Pollard, who ruptured his right Achilles last week.
"Blidi's been struggling a little bit," McCourty said. "Me and him talked a lot this week. His ability to go out there and put everything behind him, and just focus on playing well was big for us. He brought a ton of energy, flying around, making tackles on the running back, making a huge interception. He played really well.
"It was exciting for me as an older guy to watch the way he played. In this league when you are first getting in there, you can question yourself a little bit, you're unsure of maybe what you can do. I think he showed himself the type of player he can be. That's the type of guy we know he is and the type of player we know he can be."