NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Football fans across the country this weekend honored the 26 victims of a school shooting with a moment of silence, and Titans running back Chris Johnson added to that tribute with a burst of greatness Monday night at LP Field.
Johnson wrote "RIP SHES" and names of the victims on his cleats in honor of the tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Friday. He joined everyone on the sidelines and stands in a somber pause before the Tennessee Titans hosted the New York Jets.
Then Johnson delivered a memorable moment that possibly no one else in attendance could have: a dramatic 94-yard touchdown run to give the Titans their first score of the game. Johnson, who became a father of twins earlier this year, said the news of the shooting was "heartbreaking" so he wanted to honor the victims' families.
"It's something to try to give back and show tribute to those families," Johnson said. "I know how much they hurt. I felt like it was a good deed."
Johnson's run, combined with a second-half rushing touchdown by Titans QB Jake Locker and five turnovers (four interceptions, one fumble lost) by Jets QB Mark Sanchez, helped the Titans defeat the Jets 14-10.
Johnson squirted in between reserve center Kyle DeVan and right guard Deuce Lutui and quickly accelerated. Johnson zoomed past Jets defenders, generating more noise from the crowd with each stride and eluded a diving attempt by Jets safety Yeremiah Bell.
ESPN clocked the run at 10.48 seconds, but Locker said he knew the result was going to be good a couple of seconds before Johnson scored. Teammates eventually caught him to celebrate.
"I had the best viewpoint in the house," Locker said. "Once he gets in the secondary and gets by the second level of defenders, I am willing to say we are celebrating in the end zone 100 percent of the time. So once he got by that safety we knew we had a big touchdown run."
The run was a career long for Johnson and set a Titans/Oilers franchise record. It eclipsed the 91-yard effort he had on Sept. 20, 2009, that had tied a 91-yard scoring run by Sid Blanks against the Jets on Dec. 13, 1964.
It also was Johnson's NFL-record sixth scoring play of at least 80 yards and third such play this season.
Johnson said the victims' names on his shoes made the run "much more meaningful."
"(I was) just thinking about those kids all week and the whole game," Johnson said. "Just how fortunate it is for us to come out every Sunday and Monday and play on this field."