2008 Week 12 - Jets at Titans Photos
The New York Jets are a contender. If there was any doubt, they squashed that skepticism today in Nashville with a 34-13 pasting of the previously undefeated Titans.
In what has become a trend for the AFC East leaders, the Jets played another complete game. The defense was suffocating, Brett Favre threw a scoring pass in each half, and Leon Washington cemented another impressive win with a scintillating 61-yard run to the house and a 4-yard score in the final quarter.
"It was very much a complementary game, which is the thing that we've been stressing week in and week out," said Jets head coach Eric Mangini.
The 8-3 Jets, who have now won five games in a row, completed their most impressive three-game road stretch in franchise history. After topping the 5-2 Bills in Buffalo and the 6-3 Pats in New England, the Jets moved south and outclassed a 10-0 Titans squad.
"It's hard to win consistently on the road and we've found a way to do that," Favre said.
"I think we're jelling at the right time," added safety Kerry Rhodes.
Favre, who threw his first interception in three games, was madly efficient in completing 25 of his 32 passes for 224 yards. He spread the ball around neatly as Coles had seven receptions for 88 yards and Jerricho Cotchery and rookie tight end Dustin Keller added a half dozen each for 55 and 42 yards respectively. Not to be overlooked was Thomas Jones' tough 96-yard effort on the ground.
"We didn't think we would dominate them in the run game, we didn't think we would dominate them in the passing game, and in all honesty we didn't. We picked our spots," Favre said. "I tried to get it to our playmakers underneath and let them make plays."
Tennessee entered the game with the NFL's top-ranked scoring defense, yielding 13 points a contest, but that's all the Titans offense could muster. The Jets were clearly the better team in the trenches as the interior offensive line neutralized DT Albert Haynesworth and the Titans, forced to play catchup all afternoon, never got their run game on track.
Despite turning the ball over twice in the opening 30 minutes, the Jets had a 10-3 lead at the half. The Green & White played tremendous team defense before the halfway mark, holding the Titans to just 88 total yards. Jones' third receiving score of his career stood up as the difference heading into the third quarter.
The Jets came out blazing again this afternoon. Favre completed all six of his passes on their opening possession and his final toss resulted in a 10-yard score for Jones. Favre attacked inside and outside before going the screen route to his running back as TJ picked up good blocks from LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson and LG Alan Faneca to help clear a path to the end zone.
It was Favre's 500th career TD pass (including postseason games) and the sixth consecutive game the Jets had scored on their first drive.
"That first drive was really a tone setter — not that we couldn't have won the ballgame if we hadn't went down and scored, but it sure sent a message that we were capable of scoring against this defense," Favre said.
But the first quarter ended on a sour note in the Music City. The Jets were in scoring territory when Favre dropped a shovel pass to the normally sure-handed Washington. The speedy all-purpose back was stripped by Titans DE Jevon Kearse and Kevin Vickerson recovered for the Titans at their 21.
The Jets' turnover tune continued early in the second stanza. Favre went to Coles up the left sideline and was victimized by a crafty Cortland Finnegan interception. Coles appeared to have a step on the corner, but the ball was underthrown and Tennessee took over on the plus side of the field at the 42. Bob Sutton's defense responded with a gritty three-and-out to keep the score 7-0.
That lead ballooned to 10 four minutes before half when Jay Feely drilled a 20-yard field goal, capping a 13-play, 78-yard drive that took 7:30 off the gameclock. Favre's 25-yard hookup with Coles got the Jets moving and they also tripped up the Titans with a nice inside handoff to fullback Tony Richardson for an additional 14.
Rob Bironas answered Feely's boot with a 43-yarder for the Titans just 56 seconds before the halftime gun. The Titans couldn't sustain any momentum in the third quarter, though, because the Jets took the second-half kickoff and held the ball for close to seven minutes. And when Feely struck from 30 yards, the Jets had their 10-point cushion back and more good things were on the immediate horizon.
On the Titans' first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, safety Abram Elam and linebacker Eric Barton converged on rookie ballcarrier Chris Johnson and stripped the rock loose. Bryan Thomas recovered for the visitors at the Tennessee 35.
Eight plays later, the Old Gunslinger threw a beautiful 2-yard TD strike to Coles. The line gave Favre all day to throw and he pumped hard left before zipping a nifty spiral to LC in the back of the end zone. It was Favre's 20th TD of the season, giving him another NFL record all to himself — 14 seasons with at least 20 scoring tosses.
"They brought the safety down and bracketed me," Coles said. "I knew if I could get around him, Brett would find me. I kind of just ran around, Brett was able to squeeze the ball in and I was able to make a play."
Bironas got another field goal, but the Jets literally ran away from the Titans in the fourth quarter. Washington got his redemption, showing patience and then finding a crack before running for 61 yards into the end zone. It was the Jets' longest rushing TD run in six years.
"I think [Damien] Woody and Brandon Moore did a really good job sealing the backside off and I hit the hole one-on-one with the safety," Washington said. "That's what I'm paid to do, to make big plays like that. I did the easy part. The hole was wide open and I tried to run as fast as I could."
"It was a perfect look for the play that we called," said center Nick Mangold. "Leon was able to read it and saw the hole real well. You saw the speed there at the end to be able to get those extra yards and the touchdown."
Washington got his second rush TD in the final moments and the visitors were serenaded with chants of "J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets." Next weekend, the Men of Mangini return home to host the Denver Broncos in another critical conference matchup.
The rest of the league had better take notice of New York's AFC representative. The Jets, like an immovable iceberg, took down the Titans and are clearly ready do plenty of damage this winter.
"We're going to keep on playing and keep trying to compile these wins on top of each other," said Washington.
"I think folks can start taking us seriously now," said NT Kris Jenkins. "We're for real."
Time of Possession
The Jets not only outgained the Titans, 409 yards to 281, but they dominated in time of possession as well. Mangini's club held the ball for 40:30 compared to just 19:30 for Tennessee.
Aliquippa Corners Nashville
The Jets' defensive backfield was well represented by Aliquippa (Pa.) High School alums as lockdown corner Darrelle Revis was joined in the starting lineup by his mentor, Ty Law. After signing with the Green & White less than two weeks ago, the 34-year-old Law has made an impressive transition to active duty.
"It feels good to be able to go out and participate on a team that's still growing and on the rise," Law said. "We came in here with high expectations for ourselves even if nobody thought we could pull it off. We stuck together and won the game."
Favre and Finnegan, Mano-a-Mano
Ten minutes into the opening quarter, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer went to a shotgun formation with Brad Smith at quarterback and Brett Favre lined up out wide. While Smith ran an option and eventually pitched to Leon Washington for a 4-yard gain, Titans corner Cortland "Feisty" Finnegan got in a couple of shots at the future Hall of Fame passer.