Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday Night Football Live Blog: Jets Fighting for Playoff Hopes

Coverage of this past weekend's slate of Week 15 games will be coming your way tomorrow morning. For now, however, we will be taking this time to bring you live coverage of the Monday Night Football match-up between the 6-7 New York Jets and the 4-9 Tennessee Titans.

Not the most exciting match-up, we know. But we've got the time to do a live blog for the evening and since we haven't gotten the opportunity to do too many this season, why not take advantage?

Besides, this is Tennessee's chance to play spoilers and eliminate Mark Sanchez and the Jets from playoff contention. Plus this is the season's last Monday Night Football and we're only 8 days away from Christmas, so we're in an extra good mood.
Tennessee is clearly out of the postseason this season, with no possible mathematical way for them to make an appearance. New York, however, has a shot. A very slim shot, albeit, but it's still a shot. Here's their playoff scenario:

Must win final three games @ Tennessee, vs. San Diego, @ Buffalo


Indianapolis must lose final 2 games
Pittsburgh beats Cincinnati; Cleveland beat Pittsburgh
Cincinnati beats Pittsburgh; Baltimore beats Cincinnati

Take a few moments to wrap your head around all of that. So not only do the Jets need to do something they haven't done since last November/December (win three consecutive games), but they also must rely on other teams to get into the postseason.
Titans in 2012

2-4 record at home
0-2 in December
2-1 vs. AFC East

Jake Locker: 1-2 record, 916 passing yards, 4 TD, 4 INT, 82.5 rating at home

Jets in 2012

3-3 record on road
2-0 in December
2-1 vs. AFC South

Mark Sanchez: 3-3 record, 1,185 passing yards, 4 TD, 4 INT, 74.0 rating on road

All-Out Blitz's pick: Jets win 24-10

In-Game Live Blog Updates

Last-minute injury report:

Jets--Dustin Keller (ankle), Stephen Hill (knee) are both out. Newly-signed wideout Braylon Edwards will be playing.
Titans--Damian Williams (hamstring), Colin McCarthy (concussion) and Scott Solomon (knee) are all out. Backup QB Rusty Smith will also be inactive tonight.

*The Jets are wearing helmet decals that say "S.H.E.S." in honor of the 20 children and 6 adults who were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT last week. Also, just a few minutes ago there was a moment of silence at LP Field in honor of the victims as well.

First Quarter
*Kick-off officially at 8:41 pm eastern time, as Darrius Reynaud took the kick to the 22-yard line for Tennessee. The young Jake Locker will take his offense out on the field first.

8:45 pm: Jake Locker hits WR Nate Washington on a 30-yard pass on 3rd & 4. Just like that the Titans have set-up camp deep in New York territory on the team's opening drive.

8:49 pm: The promising drive stalls as New York stops the Titans' Chris Johnson for a loss of 10 on a 3rd down option play. Tennessee settles for a field goal attempt by Rob Bironas, which is blocked. New York will start its first offensive drive at their own 37.

Apparently Bironas had trouble finding his helmet before coming onto the field to attempt the first FG of the night.

8:51: Braylon Edwards will need to step up big for the Jets tonight, who will be without TE Dustin Keller and WR Stephen Hill.

8:53: Heading into the game RB Shonn Greene needed just 117 rushing yards to top 1,000 for the second consecutive season of his 4-year career. He could accomplish that feat tonight rather easily if the Jets get him the ball early and often.

8:54: Edwards makes his first catch as a Jet in 2012, a 14-yarder on a key 3rd down.

8:57: Tim Tebow makes his first appearance of the evening, running on a QB sneak up the middle to convert the Jets' second 3rd down of the opening drive. A pass interference call one play later puts the Jets inside the red zone.

9:00: Controversial touchdown pass from Sanchez to TE Jeff Cumberland. It was ruled a TD on the field, but after seeing the replay it appears to slip through his hands and hit the ground.

It will automatically be reviewed since this season all scoring plays and turnovers are automatically reviewed upstairs...ball has been ruled to have hit the ground after further review by referee Gerry Austin. That will bring up 4th down for NY.

9:03: Nick Folk's 22-yard field goal attempt is good. 3-0 Jets, 4:22 to play in the opening quarter.

9:11: Tennessee's Chris Johnson hasn't been the same since his 2,000 yard in 2009, but he still displays his explosiveness every once in a while. He hits holes at lightning speed but runs east-to-west far too often. If he was Barry Sanders, he could get away with lateral running a little easier, but he's not. Does he not understand that you can't bounce it to the outside every play?

At this point, Jake Locker has looked like a stronger runner than Johnson, who just took off down the field for a 15-yard gain and a TEN first down.

9:12: End of quarter 1. Still 3-0 Jets with the Titans facing a fourth down and short.

Second Quarter
9:18: The Jets need to find a way to make Shonn Greene a bigger part in the offense. A powerful back like Greene needs to be utilized as much as possible, especially if you have an unreliable quarterback under center. Greene has 25 yards on 6 carries thus far tonight.

9:22: Another punt coming for the Jets. The good news for Jets fans, however, is that at least Sanchez appears to be spreading the ball out and getting everyone involved. Five completions to five different players (Edwards, Greene, Cumberland, Bilal Powell and Konrad Reuland).

9:24: There's something we haven't seen in a while, but doesn't come as much of a surprise. Sure, I've been hard on Chris Johnson, but we all know he can break a long run at any moment. That's what he just did: 94 yard rushing touchdown for CJ. Longest run in franchise history for Tennessee. 7-3 Titans.

It was the sixth 80+ yard TD of Johnson's 5-year career with the Titans. Also the 48th touchdown of his career, rushing and receiving (including postseason).

Johnson has the names of all 20 of the victims of the Newtown, CT school shooting on his cleats tonight (photo shown below), and that TD was no doubt dedicated to those children and the families of the children.
9:30: Tim Tebow stays in the game for two consecutive plays, as he runs for a first down while running the triple option. Two tight ends were lined up in the backfield along with RB Joe McKnight. They're changing things up a bit on offense here.

9:35: This actually may be the longest I've seen Tebow in a game at one time this season. Four straight now as the Jets face a 3rd & 16 following a delay of game. He miraculously avoids a second straight sack and throws the ball away to bring up 4th down. I'm not really sure what Rex Ryan is doing here, to tell you the truth. Titans get the ball back with just over 6 minutes to play in the half.

Here's Locker's chance to start to break this one open. If he really wants to, anyways.

9:41: Tennessee's offensive line is really struggling tonight. New York doesn't even need to blitz, they are getting pressure on Locker with their front line and Johnson can't even get back to the line. If you take away NY's one mistake that led to the 94-yard TD, CJ has managed just 9 yards on 9 carries.

9:44: We've been waiting for this for a while now, appears to be a Sanchez interception (Jason McCourty). It will be reviewed to determine whether McCourty was in bounds, but if the play is upheld it'll be Mark's 14th interception of the season and Tennessee ball.

Call is confirmed upstairs, Titans ball. It appears as though the Jets are already throwing in the towel and we still have four minutes until halftime. Coming up with a defensive stop and going into the half with a 7-3 deficit would be a huge win for NY.

9:47: Locker is still running for his life and is forced to step out of bounds on third down. There's the stop that I just mentioned. 3 & out. This game is as ugly as I was expecting.

9:52: "4-9 football teams do 4-9 things" --Jon Gruden. Sounds about right.

2 minute warning in Tennessee.

9:57: Does anyone wanna win this one? A promising start to a late Tennessee drives stalls after another Locker sack and a near-interception. The Jets are trying to force things to happen and neither team can get any sort of rhythm. The Jets final drive of the half ends with a Sanchez sack. U-G-L-Y.

Halftime: Titans 7, Jets 3
Sanchez's first half rating: 16.7
One explosive offensive play: C. Johnson 94-yard TD
1 turnover (Sanchez INT)
4 total sacks, 7 combined punts
*Johnson's TD run is the only first half highlight worth mentioning

Third Quarter
*What's the over/under that the Jets break 200 total yards for the game (99 total yards in first half...81 of which came on the ground)? Our pre-game 24-10 prediction is looking pretty generous right now.

10:16: Rex Ryan was impressed by Johnson's run, apparently saying at halftime that he's "never seen anything like it before."

10:18: First offensive play of the second half is Braylon's 2nd catch of the game, moving the chains already. New York had 10 first half first downs.

10:20: Another Sanchez mistake, overthrowing Cumberland and straight into the hands of McCourty. It's McCourty's second INT of the night and 4th of the season. Titans take over at the NY 46 for their first offensive drive of half No. 2.

10:23: Locker loves the bootlegs to his right, he thrives off them as he just picked up TEN's 7th first down of the evening. It was Kenny Britt's first catch of the game, 41st of the season according to ESPN's Mike Tirico.

10:25: Penalties continue to destroy any hope the Titans generate, a holding call takes Tennessee out of field goal range and a failed 3rd down conversion will force another Brett Kern punt. The penalty was Tennessee's eighth of the game.

10:38: Tennessee takes over at their own 10 as they attempt to get a scoring drive going for the first time since early in the second quarter.

10:40: Another 3 & out. Kern will make his 6th punt of the night deep inside his own end zone. The punt goes out of bounds at their own 35, giving New York fantastic field position. If New York can't get anything out of this next drive, then all hope will officially go down the drain, despite the score still being just 7-3.

10:43: A 20-yard run by Joe McKnight puts the Jets at the TEN 15-yard line and pushes the Jets over the 100-yard mark on the ground. Total group effort: McKnight 35, Greene 35, Powell 20, Tebow 15, Sanchez 4. 109 total.

10:45: Tennessee brings the heat but Sanchez gets the ball out quickly to TE Cumberland for a TD. Linebacker Tim Shaw (McCarthy's replacement) has good coverage on the play but seems to lose track of where the ball is. The 17-yard touchdown through the air and the extra point by Folk gives NY a 10-7 lead with just over three minutes to play in the quarter.

Maybe the Jets do have some fight in them, as they were able to take advantage of the poor punt from Kern.

10:49: More pressure on Locker as he overthrows Nate Washington by a couple of feet on a deep pass down the right sideline. Can Jake get a little protection at all tonight?

It's a good thing he's still got that play-action bootleg to the right in his arsenal, as he hooks up with rookie Michael Preston for a first down on the next play.

10:50: Second red zone attempt of the game for the Titans. Last one came in the first quarter and ended with a blocked FG off the leg of Bironas.

10:54: Locker takes the ball into the end zone himself on a designed running play to his left, following his lead blockers the whole way. Locker was 3-for-4 on the drive before he capped it with a 13-yard TD run. A Bironas extra point gives Tennessee the lead back, 14-10, with under a minute to play in the third.

10:56: A short run on first down by Powell takes us to the end of the quarter. With 15 minutes to play, Tennessee leads the Jets 14-10. Rex Ryan better get his squad to rally together as they only have one quarter left to stay alive in the playoff hunt.

Fourth Quarter
*Tennessee leads nearly every offensive category through three quarters of play with the exception of total plays, first downs and giveaways.

11:03: New York has limited the penalties tonight, but there was a crucial one on that 3rd & 2 that eventually led to a punt after Akeem Ayers sacked Mark Sanchez (4th sack for Titans tonight). Titans offense back on the field at LP Field.

11:07: Neither team has managed to keep its quarterback upright on 3rd downs. Locker is dropped for the fourth time tonight as well, forcing another Kern punt and another fair catch from NY return man Jeremy Kerley. A holding call against the kicking team (Titans) adds 10 yards on to the end of the play, giving New York solid field position to start the next drive.

11:10: Two consecutive short passes that Sanchez has now missed, both check down passes. He's now 9/21 for just 93 yards.

Sanchez completes a pass for 8 yards on 3rd and 10. Another punt coming, but hey, at least Sanchez is now over the 100 passing yards mark for the night!! That's good news, right?? His rating has climbed to 36.7 for the game as well. Offense still not making any progress, however.

11:14: Tennessee's penalty count just went up to 12 for 86 yards after Deuce Lutui is called for holding. Basically tackled his man.

Cromartie barely misses an interception on the very next play. If "almost-interceptions" counted as interceptions, I think Locker would have about 3 so far tonight. Ouch.

11:19: Locker underthrows an open Lavelle Hawkins on 3rd and long. The two teams have combined for a 7-for-23 3rd down conversion rate tonight. New York takes back over at their own 23-yard line after Kern's eighth punt of the game. I'm feeling a long, 10-play scoring drive from Sanchez. We're overdue for one, wouldn't you say?

11:21: It had appeared as though Rex Ryan had come to his senses. Started this drive with a couple of Shonn Greene carries which resulted in a first down, but then a deep Sanchez pass intended for Edwards was picked off by Michael Griffin. Errant throw which was unnecessary. Tried to force it in, gave Griffin an easy INT.

Another holding penalty against Tennessee on Griffin's return negated the decent field position, but Tennessee holds possession with a four-point lead and 7 minutes to play, nevertheless.

11:24: Another designed run play for Locker comes up one yard short on 3rd down. Tennessee only managed to take off about a minute and a half on the game clock before the ball was given back to Sanchez and Co.

With 5:20 to play, this drive (starting at NY's own 8) may be New York's final chance to re-take the lead.

11:27: With Greene getting the ball on 3 of the first 4 plays this drive, I just thought I'd share with you the impact he's made on offense this season...In the 6 NY wins, Greene has been heavily involved. But in the team's 7 losses, Greene got 16 or fewer rushing attempts and just 1 total TD.

Take the ball out of Sanchez's hands and into Greene's for 25+ times a game, Rex. That's all I'm going to say. He's received 20 or more carries on just four occasions this season, all of which resulted in victories.

11:30: More Tennessee penalties have kept the NY drive alive as we reach the two-minute warning in Nashville. Will be interesting to see if Sanchez can close this one out and stay alive in the postseason hunt.

11:33: Uhm, oh my. What on earth was that? Inside Tennessee's 25-yard line and Sanchez throws another errant pass off his back foot, into triple coverage. Griffin makes his second pick of the game and gives the Titans the ball back inside their own 5 with 1:51 to play. Sanchez's 4th of the game and 17th INT on the year.


11:35: Tennessee plays it safe and gives it to Johnson three straight times. The result? Four total yards and a Kern punt with :53 to play. New York will get the ball back one more time with zero timeouts.

11:37: Wacky ending to this one. For the second time this game Kern kicks one off the side of his foot and the Jets will get the ball at the TEN 25.

11:38: First play for New York's offense and Sanchez FUMBLES the snap out of the gun and gives the ball up for the 5th time this game. With no TOs left, Locker can kneel the ball and run out the final 39 seconds of play.

Unbelievable finish. Titans improve to 5-9 while the Jets fall to 6-8 and are eliminated from the postseason for the second consecutive season after two straight AFC Championship appearances.

FINAL: Titans 14, Jets 10

More recap and reaction from tonight's game, as well as the rest of Week 15, will come tomorrow morning/afternoon. Thanks for following along tonight!

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