What appeared to be a layup on the schedule turned into a nightmare for the Tennessee Titans. A trip north to face the 0-3 Jets went south quickly — all of the warning signs were there after just a quarter of play.
Three field goals and multiple missed opportunities highlighted the first half for the Titans in New York. A bad snap and a sack, both coming on third down plays, forced the Titans to settle for three points despite dominating the first quarter of the game against the Jets.
Instead of a three-score lead, the Titans held a 9-0 lead midway through the second quarter. The Jets, behind the arm of rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, finally put a scoring drive together in the final stages of the second quarter. The touchdown drive slashed the Tennessee lead to 9-7, and a shanked punt off the leg of fill-in punter Johnny Townsend had the Jets in business once again before halftime.
The Tennessee defense was able to get a stop, thanks to Harold Landry getting home for the sack on a stunt. However, the Titans were once again stopped by the Jets, who sacked Tannehill for a fourth time in the first half.
That brought us to halftime, with the Titans holding on to an uncomfortable 9-7 lead.
Needing a spark, the Titans turned to Derrick Henry. But with Jones and Brown out, that was too predictable. A key screen pass to Jeremy McNichols converted on third down, and jump-started a third quarter drive for the Titans. Across midfield they went, but a fifth sack of the day for the Jets ended the drive.
Zach Wilson badly needed something to go his way, and he got it on the following drive. Keelan Cole beat Jackrabbit Jenkins deep, flipping the field and setting the Jets up in the redzone with a chance to take the lead. The Titans buckled down after that play, but a Matt Ammendola field goal gave the Jets a 10-9 lead — their first lead of the season.
The Titans trailed as we entered the fourth quarter.
It was time for Henry, and that’s exactly what we got. Two gashes started off the drive with ease, getting Tennessee across midfield. McNichols picked up another chunk, and very suddenly the Titans were poised to take the lead right back.
Henry kept chugging along, taking the Titans down to the one after Rodger Saffold left the game. He would score on the next snap, and Tannehill would convert a two-point conversion.
Very quickly, the Titans were back up 17-10.
However, Wilson wasn’t done. A bad defensive pass interference penalty on Dane Cruikshank sparked the Jets, and another big pass down the field put New York in business. Almost instantly, Wilson found Crowder for the score and the extra point tied the game at 17.
The Jets got the stop they needed on the next drive. Henry was stuffed twice, and Tannehill was sacked for a sixth time. New York got the ball near the 50, after a good return from Braxton Berrios. Wilson immediately attacked. It was play-action over the top — right to former Titan Corey Davis. A dagger of a throw put the Jets up 24-17, with 9:06 to play.
After trading punts, the Titans settled in again. Tannehill found Nick Westbrook-Ikhine to cross midfield, and then hit McNichols again to convert another huge third down. But that’s where the drive ended.
Tannehill was faced with a 4th down and five, and pressure got to him again. He floated a 50-50 ball up, and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine was unable to come down with it.
Tennessee did come up with a stop, and got the ball back with one final chance with 2:09 to play. On fourth and ten, the Titans were given new life with a defensive pass interference call. Still with no timeouts and a collapsing offensive line, Tannehill had a big task ahead.
Tannehill found Reynolds for 12, and Reynolds again for 12 more. Anthony Firkser got the Titans down to the three with under 30 seconds to play. Cam Batson scored a touchdown two plays later, tying the game at 24 each. Vrabel did not opt to try the two-point attempt for the win, instead, Randy Bullock connected on the extra point.
Wilson took a knee, and to overtime we went.
The Jets won the toss and got the ball first. They were able to grind out a first down, and then Wilson hit another deep shot to Cole, who went out at the Titans 26. Wilson converted third and three, no thanks to Tennessee’s soft coverage, to get inside of the ten.
Tevin Coleman took a screen inside of the two, but Wilson was sacked on a scramble attempt by Denico Autry to force a field goal. The Jets retook the lead at 27-24, but the Titans had a pulse.
Tennessee got the ball back, but a Henry run was blown up, and Tannehill was sacked on second down. Tannehill threw a 20 yard pass to Chester Rogers, and Derrick Henry converted fourth and one on a toss. Now at midfield and suddenly with two minutes left to play, a screen play was blown up. Once again the Titans were faced with fourth and short, and once again Henry converted.
Rogers came up with another huge catch to get the Titans into field goal range, which at this point would result in a tie. The drive stalled from there, and Bullock would in fact come on for the tie.
And.... he missed.
Final score: Jets 27, Titans 24.
No Julio, no A.J. — don’t care. No two ways about it. This was a brutal loss to maybe the NFL’s worst team. It was a game that saw the Titans miss chance after chance. It was a failure of coaching, personnel and execution.
This one stings.
The Titans will host the Jaguars next Sunday.