Titans quarterback Alex Tanney took about two steps before the offensive line all but parted before Julian Stanford, resulting in a monstrous sack that knocked the wind out of Tanney and incited the communal gasp at MetLife Stadium.

Tanney, victimized by the Titans’ failed blitz pickup, lay on the turf. Stanford, the Jets second-team inside linebacker, took his bows and the gasp turned into a sign of relief. For this one preseason game, at least, it appears that the Jets’ defense is as competent as advertised. The unit finished with seven team sacks.

Tanney’s second-quarter sack was one of three in the first half — another came on the Titans fourth offensive play of the game, courtesy of DL Leonard Williams, and the third, after Stanford, via Bruce Carter. It was, in all, a strong opening salvo by the defense that is supposed to be the Jets’ saving grace. The Titans were kept off the board until 1:24 into the third quarter, when Tanney’s 42-yard pass ended in a field goal. The Titans managed only five first downs in the first half, and 97 net yards.

Position battles coming into focus

Though Todd Bowles said not to read too much into his first-team decisions on Saturday, things did become a little clearer after their first preseason game. With both outside linebacker positions in flux, it appears that Jordan Jenkins remains in the lead for a starting role, with Freddie Bishop also near the top of the list. Bowles started Darron Lee and Demario Davis at inside linebacker, while Buster Skrine got the call over Juston Burris at cornerback.

Injury updates

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As Bowles said Thursday, running back Bilal Powell was held out of the game Saturday, still suffering the effects of a neck injury he sustained in practice on Aug. 4. Running back Matt Forte (hamstring) was also out, along with outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin (back), who returned Thursday after missing two practices.

Catanzaro flubs audition

Chandler Catanzaro lost out on his first attempt to put some space between him and Ross Martin for the starting kicker role. His 55-yard attempt two minutes into the second quarter went wide left and he was pulled for Martin for the second-half kickoff.