Jets stay alive, top Titans
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Ryan Fitzpatrick and the New York Jets' offense set the tone early. The stingy defense did the rest.
A possible letdown against the Tennessee Titans? Not a chance.
Fitzpatrick threw three touchdown passes as New York scored on five of its first six possessions, and Marcus Mariota and the Titans were stifled for most of the game as the Jets cruised to a 30-8 victory Sunday.
"If you're the Golden State Warriors, you can have a trap game," said coach Todd Bowles, referring to the NBA team that started its season 24-0 before a loss Saturday. "We're not that good."
Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and Bilal Powell each caught TD passes for the Jets (8-5), who stayed on track in the AFC playoff race with their first three-game winning streak since 2011.
"It took us long enough," defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson said.
Fitzpatrick, who has a single-season career high with 25 touchdown passes, finished 21 of 36 for 263 yards. Chris Ivory ran for 101 yards on 22 carries, and Randy Bullock kicked three field goals. Muhammad Wilkerson had three of New York's five sacks.
The Jets were coming off a stunning 23-20 overtime win over the Giants last week, and some fans and media wondered if New York could take the lowly Titans (3-10) too lightly.
"That's the media talking, it's a trap game," Richardson said. "We're taking it one game at a time and looking past no one."
Tennessee's lone highlight came in the third quarter when Antonio Andrews took a direct snap and connected with Mariota for a 41-yard touchdown — the rookie quarterback's first career reception. He also became the first player since Walter Payton in 1983 with 40-yard touchdowns on a pass, a rush and a reception in the same season.
"The guys did a great job of selling it," Mariota said. "Antonio made a great throw. ... I had some experience in high school playing receiver. I was pretty comfortable."
Mariota finished 21 of 39 for 274 yards and an interception for the Titans, who were looking to win consecutive games for the first time since the end of the 2013 season. Tennessee dropped to 2-4 under interim coach Mike Mularkey.
"That was not good," Mularkey said. "The first half was a good example of if you play poorly in all three phases, you're going to have a hard time against a good football team."
Jets rookie receiver Devin Smith was carted from the field with what appeared to be a serious knee injury in the third quarter on Ryan Quigley's punt game. Bowles said Smith was scheduled for an MRI on Monday. Receiver Jeremy Kerley also left with an injured calf.
With temperatures an unseasonably warm 68 degrees at kickoff, the Jets got off to an encouraging start. A 14-play drive on their opening possession was capped by Fitzpatrick's 16-yard toss to Decker, who caught his ninth TD pass of the season.
Powell took a short pass from Fitzpatrick and slipped defenders and zipped his way into the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown that made it 20-0. The Titans blocked the extra point, but Da'Norris Searcy was offside and, 5 yards closer, Bullock made his next attempt. Searcy later left with a hamstring injury.
Fitzpatrick threw a short pass to Marshall, who stiff-armed a defender and tip-toed down the right sideline for a 69-yard TD that put the Jets up 27-0 before halftime.
Mularkey said the Titans' headsets went out on them, adding to the confusion.
"There was no communication to upstairs or the linebackers," Mularkey said. "Not an excuse. That doesn't give us any reason to not cover an uncovered receiver."
Through two quarters, New York dominated the stats sheet: 324-72 in total yards, 17-4 in first downs and 19:47-10:13 in time of possession. The Jets outgained the Titans 439-292 overall.
"It was one of those games we wish we could have back and start it over," Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo said.
Trying to spark Tennessee's struggling offense, the Titans called for a wildcat play and ended the Jets' shutout bid on Mariota's first career catch.
Andrews took the direct snap — with Mariota lined up wide — and floated a pass down the right sideline. Safety Calvin Pryor slipped on the coverage, leaving Mariota completely uncovered. The rookie quarterback made the catch and cruised into the end zone for a 41-yard score. A 2-point conversion to Dexter McCluster cut the deficit to 27-8.
"This is what we wanted," said Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, who returned after missing two games with a concussion. "It was about time for us to play a complete football game."
NOTES: Wilkerson's 12 sacks are the most in a season for the Jets since Shaun Ellis had 12 1/2 in 2003. ... Decker (nine) and Marshall (11) are tied for the most TD catches by Jets WR duo in team history. ... The Titans were held to 24 yards rushing on 13 carries. ... Titans TE Delanie Walker had seven catches for 71 yards, giving him 74 receptions, which breaks Frank Wycheck's franchise record for tight ends (70).
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.