The shame of Monday night is that the defense continued to play at a high level in keeping the Jets in these games down the stretch. Here are several measures:
■ The Titans went 0-for-their-last-10 on third-down plays. That extends the defense’s streaks of third-down dominance to 4-for-46 for opponents since late vs. New England, and 1-for-23 in the second half since Thanksgiving night.
■ Because of that third-down dominance, opponents in the last three games have punted 28 times and have gone 3-and-out 21 times. Both are the best three-game totals for the Jets since the advent of 16-game schedules in 1978.
■ With the four-sack pressure combined with the back end coverage that held WR Kenny Britt to one catch for 7 yards, Jake Locker and the Tennessee passing offense managed 127 net yards, a total that lowered the Jets’ pass defense rating to second in the NFL behind top-ranked Pittsburgh. The last time the Jets were No. 2 was after Week 4 in 2011.
■ Perhaps most impressive, the Jets have turned the ball over 11 times in these last three games, and opponents have managed six points total, two thin field goals, after those giveaways. The last time the Green & White had a similar streak was six points allowed after 11 giveaways over the final 11 games in 1999. The last time they a better stretch: 1977, when they yielded just one field goal after 12 consecutive giveaways over a six-game span.
“That’ll tell you about the kind of pride and how resilient our defense has been playing,” head coach Rex Ryan told reporters on today’s late-afternoon conference call. “I think they’ve been doing an outstanding job. A lot of that credit goes to Mike Pettine and his staff as well as the players. I’m happy with that.”
Flags Still Favoring Jets
At least the Jets’ second-half penalty surplus continued. They were called for only four penalties for 23 yards on the night. The Titans, on the other hand, were hit with 14 penalties for 111 yards. The 14 flags is the most against an opponent since Oakland got 14 in 2008. The last time an opponent had more penalties was the Jaguars’ 15 at Jacksonville in 1996. The 111 yards is the 10th-most marked off against an opponent since 1978.
The Jets’ five turnovers and minus-5 TO margin had much to do with Ryan’s decision to shift from Mark Sanchez to Greg McElroy as his starting QB on Sunday against San Diego.
“Has Mark had better days than that? Absolutely,” Ryan said of Sanchez. “He had, obviously, a poor day, but you know, he wasn’t alone with that. But obviously, we can’t turn the ball over five times and expect to win.”
Absolutely true, that. It was the Jets’ 10th minus-5 game in franchise history and their record is 0-10 (and it’s 0-14 with a margin of minus-5 or larger). In the NFL, the record for minus-5 teams since 2002 is 3-65. The three winners: Dallas (with then-rookie K Nick Folk) by 25-24 at Buffalo in ’07, Jacksonville by 24-20 over Cleveland in ’10, and Atlanta by 23-19 over Arizona four weeks ago.
The average score of those 68 teams that go minus-5 in TO margin: a 33-11 loss. That the Jets had a chance to pull Monday’s game out with 47 seconds to go speaks to how well some parts of their operation (third-down defense, rush defense except for one small 94-yard Chris Johnson run, penalties, punt rush) played in Nashville less than 24 hours ago. But that’s cold comfort for all of us tonight.
Tags: Chris Johnson, Jake Locker, Nick Folk, Rex Ryan, Tennessee Titans, turnover margin
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