NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Things didn't look good for the Titans for most the game on Sunday.
They trailed from the beginning, until nearly the end.
But in a New York minute, everything changed. The Titans made plays when it mattered most, and pulled out an improbable win.
"It's an amazing feeling," Titans tight end Jonnu Smith said. "It started out ugly, no doubt. But that's what this game is about. You just have to keep playing hard, and good things will happen. We battled until the end today."
The Titans rallied for 26-22 win over the Jets after trailing 16-0 early, and 22-13 heading into the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota connected with receiver Corey Davis for an 11-yard touchdown with 36 seconds, capping a six-play, 86-yard drive that took 1:10.
It was the 12th game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime in Mariota's career, and the eighth in the past two seasons. The Titans took over with just 1:46 left, trailing 22-19. Mariota guided a six-play, 86-yard drive that included the third down completion to Davis.
"I believe in every single one of those guys, and I knew the guys up front were going to give us a chance, and the guys outside were going to find a way to get open," Mariota said. "Guys just made plays, and we were able to get it done. It wasn't pretty, but sometimes you have to win like that in this league."
The Titans improved to 6-6 with the win. The Titans face the Jaguars on Thursday night at Nissan Stadium.
Cornerback Malcolm Butler sealed the win with an interception.
"We never try to use "must win," but like coach preached yesterday, we win and we're back in it," Titans receiver Taywan Taylor said. "That was our motto – just win this game, and move on to the next game and see how that goes. We got a great win today, and it feels good, putting us back in the race.
"Now we got momentum … but we have to get ready for a short week against the Jags."
The Titans looked bad early, falling behind 16-0.
After a 54-yard field goal by kicker Jason Myers, disaster struck on the Titans next possession when Mariota was intercepted by Jets cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who returned it for a touchdown. The Jets stretched the lead to 16-0 on two more field goals by Myers in the second quarter.
The Titans finally got in the scoreboard late in the second quarter on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to tight end Anthony Firkser. A 22-yard pass from Mariota to Davis, followed by a 14-yard run by Mariota, put the drive in motion. But the extra point was blocked, and the Titans trailed 16-6 at the half.
The Jets extended the lead to 19-6 early in the third quarter on another field goal by Myers.
But the Titans responded with a six-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off with a one-yard touchdown run by Derrick Henry, which made it 19-13 with 7:44 left in the third quarter. Mariota connected with receiver Tajae Sharpe for completions of 20 and 28 yards on the drive, which ended with a pair of nice runs by Henry.
After another field goal from Myers made it 22-13 at the end of the third quarter, the Titans cut the lead to 22-16 on a 24-yard field goal by kicker Ryan Succop, and then trimmed it to 22-19 with 5:39 left on another Succop kick. Both field goals were set up by long completions from Mariota to Taylor.
The Titans then rallied for the win.
The Titans were just 1-of-11 on third down in the contest on a day when Mariota was 20-of-35 for 282 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. Mariota also ran for 43 yards on four carries, including a 27-yard run.
"I give the players all the credit in the world," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. "It wasn't pretty. We talked about not beating the Titans, and unfortunately, we did our best early on out there to beat the Titans. Then, for the defense to be able to do what they did, continue to get stops, give our offense a chance at the end of the first half to get some points, and then to keep slugging away in the second half.
"It sure beats losing. I don't know what to tell you, but we're going to try to get back to work early and enjoy this here. But, we've got a heck of a challenge on Thursday night."
The Tennessee Titans take on the New York Jets in Week 13 of the 2018 season on Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018 at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)
More than 80 former Titans players return to Nissan Stadium as part of the team's 2018 homecoming weekend in Nashville. (Photos: Gary Glenn)