Jets win third straight, cruise past Titans 30-8
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Jets looked every bit like a team intent on making the playoffs.
It’s mid-December and they’re playing meaningful games — and starting to hit their stride. Pretty good timing for their first three-game winning streak since 2011.
“It’s going to be exciting to see what happens the next few weeks with our group,” quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick threw three touchdown passes as New York scored on five of its first six possessions, and Marcus Mariota and the Titans were stifled for most of the game as the Jets cruised to a 30-8 victory Sunday.
Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and Bilal Powell each caught TD passes for the Jets (8-5), who stayed on track in the AFC playoff race. New York was coming off a stunning 23-20 overtime win over the Giants last week, and some fans and media wondered if the Jets would take the lowly Titans (3-10) too lightly.
Not a chance.
“If you’re the Golden State Warriors, you can have a trap game,” said coach Todd Bowles, referring to the NBA team that started its season 24-0 before a loss Saturday. “We’re not that good.”
Fitzpatrick, who has a single-season career high with 25 touchdown passes, finished 21 of 36 for 263 yards. Chris Ivory ran for 101 yards on 22 carries, and Randy Bullock kicked three field goals. Muhammad Wilkerson had three of New York’s five sacks.
“That’s the media talking, it’s a trap game,” defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson said. “We’re taking it one game at a time and looking past no one.”
Through two quarters, New York dominated the stats sheet: 324-72 in total yards, 17-4 in first downs and 19:47-10:13 in time of possession. The Jets outgained the Titans 439-292 overall.
“It was one of those games we wish we could have back and start it over,” Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo said.
Here are other things to know about the Jets’ rout of the Titans:
MARIOTA’S CATCH: Tennessee’s lone highlight came in the third quarter when Antonio Andrews took a direct snap out of the wildcat — with Mariota lined up wide — and connected with the quarterback for a 41-yard touchdown — the rookie’s first career reception after Jets safety Calvin Pryor stumbled in coverage. Mariota also became the first player since Walter Payton in 1983 with 40-yard touchdowns on a pass, a rush and a reception in the same season.
“The guys did a great job of selling it,” Mariota said. “Antonio made a great throw. ... I had some experience in high school playing receiver. I was pretty comfortable.”
Mariota finished 21 of 39 for 274 yards and an interception.
FITZ MAGIC: Fitzpatrick’s previous career high for TD passes in a season was 24, accomplished twice with Buffalo. He got his personal best with three in the first half.
The 33-year-old veteran has 3,129 yards passing, his first season over 3,000 since 2012. In his last three games — also, since he trimmed his bushy beard — Fitzpatrick is 79 of 123 for 930 yards and nine touchdowns with no interceptions for a passer rating of 111.5.
“This guy just works hard and he’s had an interesting career,” Marshall said. “He deserves it. We just want to continue to rally around him and let him lead us.”
NOT-SO-MIGHTY TITANS: Tennessee dropped to 2-4 under interim coach Mike Mularkey, who took over for the fired Ken Whisenhunt.
The Titans were looking to win consecutive games for the first time since the end of the 2013 season.
“That was not good,” Mularkey said. “The first half was a good example of if you play poorly in all three phases, you’re going to have a hard time against a good football team.”
ILL COMMUNICATION: On Marshall’s 69-yard TD that put the Jets up 27-0 before halftime, Mularkey said the Titans’ headsets went out on them, adding to the confusion.
“There was no communication to upstairs or the linebackers,” Mularkey said. “Not an excuse. That doesn’t give us any reason to not cover an uncovered receiver.”
Added Orakpo: “We were scrambling and trying to get lined up. The quarterback saw us in a bind and he made a veteran play to his big-time receiver.”
BIG MO: Wilkerson’s three sacks — a single-game career high — increased his season total to a career-high 12, the most by a Jets player since Shaun Ellis had 12 1/2 in 2003.
He powered a defense that sacked Mariota five times, including takedowns by Leonard Williams and Demario Davis.
The Jets, who boast the NFL’s top run defense, held the Titans to 24 yards on 13 carries. It was the third straight game, and sixth this season, that New York has held opponents under 75 yards rushing.
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