Jets playoff hopes sacked in loss to Titans
NASHVILLE — Chris Johnson went 94 yards for the longest touchdown run in the NFL since 2006 and the Tennessee Titans beat the Jets 14-10 on Monday night to eliminate New York from playoff contention.
Jake Locker’s first touchdown run of the season put Tennessee ahead late in the third quarter and the Titans intercepted four passes by a struggling Mark Sanchez to snap a three-game skid.
After bumbling around all night, the Jets somehow still had a chance to win when they took over at the Tennessee 25 with 47 seconds left following a 19-yard punt by Brett Kern. But Sanchez fumbled a low shotgun snap, Bilal Powell inadvertently kicked the ball away and the Titans recovered to seal it.
It was a fitting end to an ugly game that left New York coach Rex Ryan cursing to himself as he walked off the field.
The Jets (6-8) needed to win their final three games and get help elsewhere to earn a playoff spot.
Instead, the Titans sacked Sanchez three times and got a fourth on Tim Tebow. Jason McCourty and Michael Griffin each had two interceptions, keeping New York out of the playoffs for a second straight season after reaching consecutive AFC title games.
Johnson, with the names of the victims of Friday’s shootings in Connecticut written on his cleats, ran a franchise-record 94 yards for a TD in the second quarter. Locker’s 13-yard touchdown run at the end of the third put the Titans (5-9) ahead to stay.
The Jets took a 10-7 lead when Sanchez and Jeff Cumberland connected on a 17-yard touchdown pass with 3:19 to go in the third. The Titans responded on their next possession with Locker’s quarterback keeper around left end, capping a seven-play, 64-yard drive.
On Cumberland’s touchdown, the Jets’ tight end caught a third-and-12 pass at about the 5-yard line after getting behind Titans linebacker Tim Shaw, starting in place of injured defensive captain Colin McCarthy. Cumberland headed into the end zone from there.
The Jets began that drive at the Titans 35 after Kern shanked a 30-yard punt. Kern had been one of the few steady performers this season for the Titans.
The Titans owned a 7-3 halftime lead after Johnson’s long scamper in the second quarter. His touchdown run was the longest by any NFL player since Minnesota’s Chester Taylor had a 95-yard TD in a 31-13 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Oct. 22, 2006.
After Robert Malone’s 53-yard punt backed the Titans up to their own 5-yard line, Johnson rushed for 1 yard on first down. On the next play, he found a seam up the middle and appeared untouched on his way to the end zone.
Jets safety Yeremiah Bell chased Johnson most of the way and made an unsuccessful diving attempt to tackle him from behind inside the 15.
The previous record for the longest run in franchise history was 91 yards, a mark shared by Johnson and Sid Blanks. Johnson had a 91-yard run against the Houston Texans in 2009. Blanks also did it against the Jets in 1964.
This marked Johnson’s sixth career touchdown run of at least 80 yards, giving him twice as many as anyone else in NFL history. Barry Sanders, Ahman Green, Hugh McElhenny and O.J. Simpson each had three touchdown runs of at least 80 yards.
Johnson was otherwise held in check, but he still headed into the fourth quarter with 110 yards rushing on 10 carries, giving him 32 career 100-yard games.
The Jets grabbed a 3-0 lead when Nick Folk’s 22-yard field goal capped their first possession of the night. New York appeared to reach the end zone when Cumberland caught a 4-yard pass from Sanchez on third-and-goal, but the original ruling of a touchdown was overturned after replays showed the ball hit the ground.
Sanchez struggled after that opening drive and was 9 of 19 for 93 yards through three quarters. He threw a pair of interceptions to McCourty, giving the slumping quarterback 21 turnovers this season.
The Jets allowed Tebow to run the offence for a complete series in the second quarter. They picked up two first downs on that series and advanced to their own 44, but the drive stalled from there after a sack, a delay-of-game penalty and an incompletion.
Sanchez returned on the Jets’ next series and promptly threw his first interception to McCourty.
McCourty picked off another pass in the third quarter when Sanchez overthrew a deep pass to Cumberland. A 28-yard return gave the Titans the ball at the Jets 46, but Tennessee couldn’t get beyond the 35 and eventually punted.
Before the game, a moment of silence was held for victims of the shootings Friday in Newtown, Conn. Twenty children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The gunman also killed his mother in her home before committing suicide.
Johnson had the names of all the victims written on the two shoes he wore for the game. He also had the words “R.I.P. SHES” and a cross written on each shoe. The Jets had an “SHES” decal on their helmets.