NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In the NFL's first ever 16-11 final score, the Titans dropped their eighth consecutive game on Sunday, falling to the Jets in Week 15 at LP Field.
The story of the week was all about the return of Chris Johnson. After struggling against the run in recent weeks, the Titans defense stifled Johnson and fellow Jets running back Chris Ivory. Johnson had a healthy 5.5 yards per carry average with 55 yards on 10 carries, but 37 of them came on one play. Ivory ran the ball 12 times for just 25 yards.
Jake Locker's return to the starting lineup was the other storyline going into the contest. Locker completed 6-of-11 passes for 57 yards and ran the ball twice for seven yards. In the second quarter, Jets defensive end Quinton Coples hit Locker from behind, driving the QB's left shoulder into the ground and forcing him out of the game.
Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt said postgame that Locker's shoulder came out and had to be put back in place, but didn't have any updates for the QB's outlook for the final two games.
Charlie Whitehurst played the final two-plus quarters, throwing for 203 yards on 10 completions.
With the Titans up 11-10 in the fourth quarter, Chris Ivory plunged into the end zone from one yard out to give the Jets a 16-11 lead with 3:14 remaining. The ensuing two point conversion failed, giving the Titans a chance to win it in regulation with a touchdown.
Back-to-back completions from Charlie Whitehurst to Delanie Walker of 18 yards and 33 yards put the Titans at the Jets 22 yard line. However, a sack and three straight incompletions left the Titans without points. Tennessee's defense then held, giving the Titans one last chance. With one second remaining, the game finished on a wild, 49-yard pass play that featured several laterals and ended with Delanie Walker being tackled at the Jets nine-yard line as time expired.
Third Down Efficiency: Ten – 6/16 (38%) NYJ – 2/13 (15%)
Penalties/Yards: Ten – 9/76 NYJ – 7/46
Total Net Yards: Ten – 342 NYJ – 277
Red Zone Efficiency: Ten – 0/2 NYJ – 2/2
The Tennessee Titans take the field for a 2014 Week 15 game against the New York Jets at LP Field. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)
It's easy to argue that Tennessee outplayed New York. The difference in the game was in the team's red zone efficiency with the Jets scoring touchdowns inside the 20 and the Titans being forced to settle for field goals.
Penalties were once again an issue for the Titans. The most costly came on an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Wesley Woodyard that turned a Jets fourth down into a first down. New York would go on to score the game-winning touchdown on that drive.
• Delanie Walker caught four passes for 93 yards, establishing a new Titans franchise record for receiving yards by a tight end in a single season with 793 (Frank Wycheck had 768 in 1998).
• Nate Washington's six receptions for 102 yards gave him 300 catches in a Titans uniform. He's the ninth player in franchise history to reach the 300-catch mark with the Titans. The 100-yard performance was the ninth of Washington's career.
Review of the Five Things to Watch
1. Stop the Run
The Titans passed this test with flying colors, holding the league's second-ranked rushing offense to just 114 yards for the game. Take away Chris Johnson's 37-yard run and it would have been an A+ performance.
Titans players made it no secret during the week that the strategy would be to make Geno Smith beat them. Ray Horton loaded the box with safeties Michael Griffin and George Wilson to help contain Ivory and Johnson.
2. Start Fast
A first quarter field goal gave the Titans their first lead since Week 11 against Pittsburgh. Tennessee was able to take a lead all the way deep into the fourth quarter.
3. Protect Jake Locker
The Titans offensive line only allowed one sack on Sunday, but a second quarter hit forced Locker out of the game anyways. Tennessee seems to be snake bitten this year when it comes to keeping quarterbacks healthy.
4. Establish and Maintain a Running Game
A quick start and early stops defensively allowed Tennessee to stick with the running game. The Titans didn't reach 100 yards, but were able to run the ball 28 times. Shonn Greene led the Titans with 50 yards on 16 carries a week after being inactive. Bishop Sankey only carried the ball three times for eight yards, adding one catch for 18 yards.
5. Inactive List
Tennessee turned to its third-string right tackle, Jamon Meredith, on Sunday with Michael Oher on IR and Byron Stingily inactive. Taylor Lewan was also inactive, giving Will Svitek his third consecutive start. The other big missing name was Kendall Wright, who missed his second straight game with a broken hand. Zach Mettenberger, Kamerion Wimbley, Mike Martin, and Daimion Stafford were the other four inactives.