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Jets-Titans What we learned

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Fans of the New York Jets might have been rooting for a loss Sunday to improve their team’s chances of claiming the top overall pick in April’s NFL Draft.

Coach Rex Ryan could not have cared less.

“Tough you-know-what,” he said minutes after New York rallied for a 16-11 win over the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. “A real Jet fan wants to win, no matter what draft pick you get. We want to win. We’re going to fight every game.”

New York’s fight was successful for just the third time this year, thanks to a 1-yard touchdown run by running back Chris Ivory with 3:09 left that finished an 11-play, 76-yard drive.

The Jets (3-11) were helped on the drive by gaining two first downs via penalty, including a personal foul on Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard that occurred after a third-and-15 pass from the New York 19 by quarterback Geno Smith was incomplete.

Running back Chris Johnson, who ran for 7,965 yards in six seasons with Tennessee before landing with the Jets in the offseason, took a direct snap 37 yards to the Titans’ 4. Three plays later, Ivory circled left end and scored standing up.

Tennessee (2-12) nearly avoided its eighth consecutive loss on the game’s final play, a multiple-lateral festival after backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst completed a short pass to running back Dexter McCluster.

McCluster, wide receiver Nate Washington and Whitehurst kept the play alive, giving tight end Delanie Walker a chance to sprint down the right side. However, safety Dawan Landry finally knocked Walker out of bounds at the Tennessee 9, just before Walker could turn to fling a fourth lateral to the trailing Whitehurst.

“It was kind of scary,” admitted New York safety Calvin Pryor of the last play. “They kept pitching the ball around, and (Walker) thought he had some daylight. But Dawan did a great job of getting him down.”

The Titans are tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the league’s worst record. Tennessee led most of the day, the first time it was in front since blowing a 24-13 fourth-quarter lead in a 27-24 setback on Nov. 17 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but made enough mistakes to keep its losing streak going.

“We’ve got to do a better job of taking advantage of opportunities,” starting quarterback Jake Locker said.

Locker, who replaced rookie Zach Mettenberger (right shoulder), was knocked out with 1:58 left in the first half by defensive end Quinton Coples after throwing an incomplete pass. Locker, who sustained a left shoulder injury, completed six of 11 passes for 57 yards.

Locker didn’t know if he would be able to play Thursday night at Jacksonville. Whitehurst, who finished 10 of 24 for 203 yards, said he would prepare as though he would be the starter.

What the Jets said:

“Jets fans want to win. Are you kidding me? We only have two of them. So I am sure they are happy with it.” – coach Rex Ryan.

What the Titans said:

“If we don’t give that penalty up, I think that’s a winning effort by our defense.” – coach Ken Whisenhunt, on a personal foul call on Wesley Woodyard that helped the Jets’ late touchdown drive.

What we learned about the Jets:

1. Although New York won Sunday, if it’s going to get much return from its October investment in WR Percy Harvin, it should probably try getting him the ball more. Harvin returned a kickoff 33 yards, gained 10 yards on a reverse, and that was it. He didn’t catch a pass or do anything else. Harvin is this team’s top playmaker and getting him the ball twice in a game won’t cut it against a team besides Tennessee.

2. On the rare occasions when he doesn’t commit turnovers, QB Geno Smith is a decent NFL player. Smith played turnover-free for just the sixth time in two seasons, completing 16 of 28 passes for 179 yards and leading the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. Smith has enough tools to play in the league, but was rushed into the starting job. The best thing for him would be to go somewhere else where he could sit for a year or two behind a veteran and not have to play with a team like the Jets, which just doesn’t have enough weapons or a coherent game plan to aid him. –C Nick Mangold (finger) left the field briefly in the fourth quarter, but returned in time to help New York score its winning TD with 3:09 left on Chris Ivory’s 1-yard run. Mangold should be able to play next week against New England.

–S Calvin Pryor (stinger) missed some time in the first half, but was able to return to the game. The rookie from Louisville, who finished with five tackles, isn’t expected to miss next week’s game at home with New England.

–RB Chris Johnson stung his old team with a 37-yard run in the fourth quarter, setting up the Jets’ winning TD. Johnson, who rushed for nearly 8,000 yards in six years with Tennessee, tallied a game-high 55 on 10 attempts in his return to Nashville.

What we learned about the Titans:

1. The Titans lack discipline, in addition to talent. Players and coaches weren’t happy about LB Wesley Woodyard being called for a personal foul against New York WR Eric Decker, claiming that Woodyard didn’t say anything. But a better idea would have been for Woodyard to walk away and not give in to his emotions. Instead, Woodyard gave an official an excuse to throw his flag and the Jets capitalized eight plays later with the winning TD.

2. Coach Ken Whisenhunt has made mistakes with this team this year, but it’s hard to game plan for any kind of success when you’re playing second- and third-stringers at offensive tackle. Will Svitek and Jamon Meredith are trying, but they simply aren’t ready to keep pass rushers out of the backfield. Tennessee has to make improving O-line depth a priority for 2015.

–QB Jake Locker (left shoulder) departed with 1:58 left in the first half after taking a hard hit from DE Quinton Coples. Locker has unsuccessfully battled injuries in his four NFL seasons, especially this year behind a leaky offensive line. His status for Thursday night’s game in Jacksonville is uncertain.

–WR Kendall Wright (hand) was inactive for the second straight game, forcing Tennessee to play with just three WRs. It’s not known if Wright, who was injured in practice last week, can play at Jacksonville Thursday night.

–LB Kamerion Wimbley (hamstring) was inactive for the second consecutive game. His status for the Jacksonville game isn’t known, although the Titans have received decent play from his replacement, Quentin Groves.


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