Mouton and Collins had two turnovers each, spoiling Tennessee’s strong defensive effort. The Jets are 3-0, the Titans are 0-3 and sit in the cellar of the AFC South.
Story of the Game: Fumbles and picks
Rookie cornerback Ryan Mouton’s two special teams turnovers led directly to two Jets touchdowns. Mouton’s first fumble occured on Tennessee’s first kickoff return. After the Jets initial possession ended with a Mark Sanchez touchdown pass, Mouton received the kickoff and dropped the rock after a hard tackle. New York drove the ball 19 yards and scored on a Sanchez touchdown pass to former Titans tight end Ben Hartsock.
Mouton muffed the ball on a punt return midway through the third quarter with the Titans up 17-14. Sanchez and crew completed a 23-yard drive and took the lead with a touchdown pass caught by Jerricho Cotchery.
Kerry Collins had an up-and-down day. Many of his throws were in double-coverage. Some fell incomplete, some were caught by Titans, and a couple were caught by Jets.
Collins’ first interception happened in the second quarter on an ill-advised pass to Chris Johnson. Jets safety Eric Smith made the easy catch. His second pick happened with 4:22 in the fourth quarter on an attempt to Alge Crumpler that wasn’t even close.
The Other Story of the Game: Titans D does its job
Tennessee’s defensive line created pressure that led to incompletions, turnovers and sacks. Defensive tackle Tony Brown was a key factor. He sacked Sanchez early in the second quarter, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Jevon Kearse.
The Titans defensive forced eight three-and-outs and made three sacks. Chris Hope gave hope to his team in the fourth quarter by intercepting a Sanchez pass.
The defense continued to be effective against the run. Leon Washington and Thomas Jones were held to 66 yards on 26 carries. The secondary appeared to play with discipline and only gave up one big play: a Cotchery catch over rookie corner Jason McCourty.
Sanchez threw two short touchdown passes (2 and 6 yards), both set up by Mouton’s special teams mistakes.
Did the Titans miss Albert Haynesworth?
For the first time this season, the Titans defense looked like… the Titans defense. They contained the run, they forced defensive mistakes and they were not embarrassed by a rookie quarterback. Hats off to the D. They did not miss Haynesworth against the Jets.
Credit the Jets defense
The Jets defense turned up the heat on the Titans in the second half, especially on third down. They sacked Kerry Collins twice and intercepted two passes. Chris Johnson did manage 97 yards on the ground, but in the fourth quarter, the Titans needed the passing game to succeed. Collins, the receivers and the offensive line could not get the job done.
The Titans abandoned the Javon Ringer-as-kick returner experiment, but, to Ringer’s credit, he never turned over the ball.
I was happy to see the Titans chose to activate defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson, who played often on run downs. There were also Chris Henry sightings on special teams.
Rookie Kenny Britt led the team in receiving yards with 59, but had a key drop on third-and-long with two minutes left in the game.
Where do we go from here?
The vultures are in flight and en route to Nashville.
The 2009 Titans are defeated (0-3). They have lost five of the last six regular season games.
If the Titans lose against the Jaguars in Jacksonville next week, the 2009 season is effectively over, unless you’re among the scant minority of Titans fans who did not expect this team to make the playoffs. Jacksonville earned its first victory in Houston against the Texans and have no reason to doubt they can’t win number two at home against the Titans.
Tennessee faces Indianapolis and New England in weeks five and six… games the team could lose WITH Albert Haynesworth in the lineup.
This team needs a shot in the arm. It”s time to bench the game manager and give the franchise quarterback his chance to win games and begin Act Two of his professional career.