Tennessee Titans end New York Jets' playoff hopes with four-point victory
By Terea M. Walker ,AP Wednesday, December 19, 2012, 12:02 am TWN
NASHVILLE, Tennessee -- Chris Johnson went 94 yards for the longest touchdown run in the NFL since 2006 as the Tennessee Titans beat the Jets 14-10 on Monday to eliminate New York from playoff contention.
Jake Locker's first touchdown run of the season put Tennessee ahead late in the third quarter and the Titans intercepted four passes by a struggling Mark Sanchez to snap a three-game skid.
After bumbling around all night, the Jets somehow still had a chance to win when they took over at the Tennessee 25 with 47 seconds left following a 19-yard punt by Brett Kern. But Sanchez fumbled a low shotgun snap, Bilal Powell inadvertently kicked the ball away and the Titans recovered to seal it.
It was a fitting end to an ugly game that left New York coach Rex Ryan cursing to himself as he walked off the field.
The Jets (6-8) needed to win their final three games and get help elsewhere to earn a playoff spot. Instead, the Titans sacked Sanchez three times and got a fourth on Tim Tebow. Jason McCourty and Michael Griffin each had two interceptions, keeping New York out of the playoffs for a second straight season after reaching consecutive AFC title games.
Johnson, with the names of the victims of Friday's shootings in Connecticut written on his cleats, ran a club-record 94 yards for a TD in the second quarter. Locker's 13-yard touchdown run at the end of the third put the Titans (5-9) ahead to stay.
The Jets took a 10-7 lead when Sanchez and Jeff Cumberland connected on a 17-yard touchdown pass with 3:19 to go in the third. The Titans responded on their next possession with Locker's quarterback keeper around left end, capping a seven-play, 64-yard drive.
On Cumberland's touchdown, the Jets' tight end caught a third-and-12 pass at about the 5-yard line after getting behind Titans linebacker Tim Shaw, starting in place of injured defensive captain Colin McCarthy. Cumberland headed into the end zone from there.
The Jets began that drive at the Titans 35 after Kern shanked a 30-yard punt. Kern had been one of the few steady performers this season for the Titans.
The Titans had a 7-3 halftime lead after Johnson's long scamper in the second quarter. His touchdown run was the longest by any NFL player since Minnesota's Chester Taylor had a 95-yard TD in a 31-13 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Oct. 22, 2006.
After Robert Malone's 53-yard punt backed the Titans up to their own 5-yard line, Johnson rushed for 1 yard on first down. On the next play, he found a seam up the middle and appeared untouched on his way to the end zone.
Jets safety Yeremiah Bell chased Johnson most of the way and made an unsuccessful diving attempt to tackle him from behind inside the 15.
The previous record for the longest run in franchise history was 91 yards, a mark shared by Johnson and Sid Blanks. Johnson had a 91-yard run against the Houston Texans in 2009. Blanks also did it against the Jets in 1964.
This marked Johnson's sixth career touchdown run of at least 80 yards, giving him twice as many as anyone else in NFL history. Barry Sanders, Ahman Green, Hugh McElhenny and O.J. Simpson each had three touchdown runs of at least 80 yards.
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