Jets melt down and watch big lead and a victory vanish

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Jets season died weeks ago, but the Titans threw another shovel full of dirt on it for good measure.

The Jets blew a 16-point lead and suffered another brutal loss in a brutal season, this one a 26-22 meltdown. It was their sixth straight loss, dropping their record to 3-9.

The 6-6 Titans looked primed for an upset for most of the day, but the Jets wasted opportunities by settling for field goals, committing silly penalties and not being able to come up with one final stop.

The only Jets touchdown came from the defense with Trumaine Johnson returning a Marcus Mariota interception 31 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.

The Jets led 16-0 in the first half, but saw Tennessee chip away at that lead. Quarterback Josh McCown, starting his third straight game in place of Sam Darnold, struggled to move the ball all day. The Jets had four possessions in the fourth quarter end with punts. The last one gave the Titans the ball at their own 14 with 1:46 left in the game.

Two penalties on the Jets kept the drive moving. One was an illegal hands to the face by Jordan Jenkins. The other was a facemask on Johnson, which added 15 yards to a 25-yard run by Marcus Mariota. With the ball at the 39 and trailing 22-19, Mariota found Anthony Firkser for a 25-yard gain. He capped the drive with the game-winning touchdown to Corey Davis, an 11-yard strike.

The Jets were clinging to their lead for dear life for the entire the fourth quarter. Their offense continued to sputter. On one drive in the fourth, Cannon ran for 8 yards on first down and they still went three-and-out, ending with a swing pass from McCown to Elijah McGuire that Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler blew up for a 4-yard loss.

It looked like the Titans would take advantage of that stumble when Mariota found Taywan Taylor for a 55-yard pass over Darryl Roberts’ head. The long play set the Titans up at the 10, but the Jets defense held, as it had for much of the day. A Jordan Jenkins sack of Mariota pushed them back and a Mariota incompletion on third down forced Ryan Succop to kick a 33-yard field goal, cutting the Jets’ lead to 22-19.

It happened again later in the quarter when McCown threw an incompletion toward tight end Chris Herndon on third down, giving the Titans yet another chance. Tennessee went three-and-out though, on some ugly Mariota passes.

The Jets looked like a different team early in this game. They jumped out to a 10-0 first-quarter lead after a Myers 54-yard field goal and interception return by Johnson. The interception by Johnson was the first Jets takeaway in six games. Their five-game drought had tied an NFL record.

Johnson made the pick with eight minutes left in the first quarter. Mariota was under pressure from a blitzing Jamal Adams and Avery Williamson and rushed his throw to Cameron Batson. Johnson jumped in front of the receiver and then was off to the end zone with Adams accompanying him to the score.

The Jets defense was swarming, though, barely letting Mariota breathe early in the game.

On offense, the Jets moved the ball, but stalled out before reaching the end zone too often. Myers, who is making a case for the Pro Bowl, bailed out the Jets again and again with five field goals. Myers hit a 34-yard field goal with 11:41 left in the second quarter to extend the Jets’ lead to 13-0.

Myers was the headliner, but it was good day all around for the Jets special teams. Kevin Pierre-Louis blocked a Brett Kern punt in the second quarter. It was the first blocked punt by the Jets since 2013. Pierre-Louis deflected a punt earlier this season against the Browns, but it did not count as a block since the ball crossed the line of scrimmage.

The Jets offense failed to turn that block into a touchdown, with the drive stalling at the Titans’ 25. Myers booted a 43-yard field goal to push the lead to 16-0.

The Titans, who looked like they were sleepwalking early on, broke through with a drive just before halftime. Mariota moved them 68 yards on six plays. The big play was a 22-yard pass to Corey Davis from Mariota. He then capped off the drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Firkser, who spent the 2017 offseason with the Jets.

Henry Anderson added to the big day for the special teams unit by blocking Ryan Succop’s extra point attempt to keep the lead at 10 points, 16-6.

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