It wasn’t pretty but Rex Ryan and the Jets will take it as they won only their third game of the season to improve to 3-11.
“We’ll take the victory,” said Ryan after the game. “The hard work of this football team, the preparation, all that on the practice field and in the classroom has finally paid off.”
The game did not start off well for the Jets as the Titans took a quick 3-0 lead early in the first quarter on a 12 play, 41 yard drive filled with defensive mistakes by the Jets. Titans quarterback Jake Locker, much like when these two teams played last year was able to extend plays with his athleticism.
Two plays after running for first down on third-and-four, Locker was able to avoid the Jets pass rush and connected with a wide-open Nate Washington for a 22-yard gain.
The Jets caught a break however, when after the Titans were forced to settle for a field goal in part due to a bad snap by center Chris Spencer on second down which resulted in a loss of 11 for Tennessee.
The Jets struggled offensively in first quarter mainly due to costly penalties. On the Jets second drive, a holding penalty on Breno Giacomini, negated a 43-yard catch-and-run by tight end Zach Sudfeld. Then a delay of game penalty turned what should have been a first-and-ten on the Titans 15 yard line to a second-and-21 on their own 27.
The Jets offensive struggles continued in the second quarter when on second-and-11 from their own six, Titans defensive end Jurrell Casey blew right by
Oday Aboushi and Chris Ivory and tackled Geno Smith in the end zone as he released the ball.
The play was originally ruled as a fumble but after a Tennessee challenge, the play was ruled a safety because Smith didn’t throw to an eligible receiver and intentional grounding was enforced in the end zone.
Things looked like they were going to go the Jets way however after former Jet Leon Washington fumbled the free kick and TJ Graham recovered the fumble setting the Jets up with first-and-ten on the Titans 40 yard line.
Once again however, penalties hurt the Jets when a pass interference on Chris Ivory negated a 16-yard screen pass to Chris Johnson. The Jets were ultimately unable to take advantage of the Titans miscue when a Nick Folk 53-yard field goal attempt fell just short.
The Jets would get on the board late in the second quarter with a 51-yard Nick Folk field goal and went into halftime down 5-3.
The Jets offense finally came alive during their second drive of the second half when Geno Smith hit Eric Decker for what appeared to be an 81-yard touchdown but Decker stepped out of bounds at the Tennessee 38.
The real fireworks however came after the play when Smith and Casey exchanged words and Casey escalated things by throwing a punch at Smith which lead to a full out brawl at mid-field.
“I don’t know what happened there,” said Ryan. “It looked like he got punched in the face, that’s what it looked like from my vantage point.”
The 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty gave the Jets a first down at the Titans 18 yard line. After failing to convert on a third-and-one, the Jets elected to go for it on fourth down and perfectly executed a play-action pass for a nine-yard Smith touchdown pass to fullback John Connor.
The Titans regained the lead on their next drive after a 51-yard Ryan Succop field goal made the score 11-10.
The score remained at 11-10 until the Jets embarked on an 11 play, 76 yard drive in the fourth quarter.
While penalties hurt the Jets in the first half, it was the Titans who began shooting themselves in the foot. On a third-and-15 from their own 19, Smith threw an incomplete pass to Decker, seemingly ending the drive but fifteen-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on linebacker Wesley Woodyard kept the drive alive.
The big play on the Jets game winning drive came from former Titan Chris Johnson who took a direct snap 37-yards to the Titans four yard line.
“It was tough sledding in the running game but finally it was a big run that kind of bust(ed) that thing open for us,” said Ryan of Johnson’s run.
Then on a third-and-seven Smith missed Decker again in the end zone but a pass interference penalty on Coty Sensabaugh once again gave the Jets a second life.
The Jets finally took advantage of Tennessee’s mistakes when Chris Ivory was able get around the left edge for a touchdown. Although the Jets failed on the two-point conversion, they took the lead 16-11.
The Jets then stopped Tenneesee on a fourth-and-17 and it looked like the game was over but the Titans with two timeouts were able to stop the clock and regain the ball with 21 seconds left.
With one second left, the Titans quarterback Charlie Whitehurst who replaced the injured Locker who was knocked out of the game by Quinton Coples, threw a short pass to Dexter McCluster who lateraled it to Washington, who threw it back to Whitehurst who ran 20 yards before throwing what looked like a forward pass to tight end Delanie Walker who only had one man to beat to score the winning touchdown before he was forced out of bounds by safety Dawan Landry at the Jets nine yard line, securing the win for the Jets.
“It looked like a forward pass to me and it should have been blown dead right there” said Ryan.
With this win and if the season ended today the Jets would pick sixth in the 2015 NFL draft rather than second if they lost. Ryan had a message for fans that were unhappy with the Jets victory today.
“Tough you-know-what,” said Ryan. “A real fan, a Jet fan wants to win…we’re going to fight every game and we’ll fight next week too against New England.”