Real fans cheer for victories, not No. 1 draft picks.
That was the resounding message in the visitor's locker room at LP Field Sunday night after the Jets' 16-11 win over the Titans.
Chris Ivory's 1-yard touchdown run with 3:09 left was the difference in a generally unwatchable game. But the Jets' win -- their third of the season -- all but ensures that they're out of the race for the No. 1 draft pick and an opportunity to select Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.
According to numberfire.com, they have a .02 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick, compared with the Jaguars (31.6 percent), Titans (31.4), Bucs (25.7), Raiders (10.4) and Redskins (0.9).
But the Jets (3-11) made it clear they couldn't care less about fans' hopes for the highest possible draft pick.
"Tough," said Rex Ryan, who was given a game ball by his players. "You know, a real Jets fan wants to win. It doesn't matter what pick you get . . . A Jet fan is a tough guy and wants to win, and that's what we gave our true Jets fans today."
The Jets and Titans were among five teams that entered the weekend with 2-11 records and good chances of positioning themselves for the top spot in the draft. And for much of the contest, it seemed the Jets would wind up losing the game but winning something far bigger in the end.
Right tackle Breno Giacomini said fans are entitled to their opinion, but he disagrees "completely" with rooting for losses.
"I don't get it, man. Maybe they never played," he said. "We're not out here to take a loss."
"They're not real fans," added rookie safety Calvin Pryor, who cited his own struggles this season as an example of players not always producing in the NFL the way they did in college. "The object of the game is to win, and that's what we're going to try to do. We can't worry about draft picks or anything like that. We have a season to focus on and we have two games left. And we're going to try to win them."
The Jets almost found a way to lose in spectacular fashion. The Titans (2-12) tried to pull off a miraculous upset, courtesy of several laterals as time was expiring.
Here's what happened: Charlie Whitehurst threw it to Dexter McCluster (6 yards), who threw a lateral to Nate Washington (minus 10 yards), who threw a lateral to Whitehurst (20 yards), who got the ball to Delanie Walker. The tight end rumbled 33 yards before he was knocked out of bounds at the Jets' 9 by Dawan Landry.
The game -- which was the first in NFL history to end with a 16-11 score -- featured 16 penalties, poor tackling and Geno Smith's safety (via intentional grounding in the end zone). But as the game dragged on, it appeared the Jets and Titans were fighting for more than just a shot at the top draft pick.
A brawl in the third quarter infused some life in the Jets' dormant offense. After an 81-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Eric Decker was overturned because he stepped out of bounds, fisticuffs started flying at midfield.
After Smith's throw to Decker, a few Titans players appeared to jaw at Smith. The incident escalated when Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey punched Smith in the helmet. Smith did not retaliate, but his teammates did. Giacomini, Nick Mangold and Willie Colon were in the middle of a melee that lasted several minutes. Casey was hit with a personal foul but was not ejected.
If the incident rattled Smith (16-for-28 for 179 yards), he didn't let on. Instead, he connected with fullback John Conner on a 9-yard touchdown pass that gave the Jets a 10-8 lead.
The Titans took an 11-10 lead on a 51-yard field goal by Ryan Succop late in the third quarter, but former Titan Chris Johnson broke a 37-yard run to the 4-yard line late in the fourth. Ivory scored a few plays later to give the Jets a win -- even if some fans didn't want one.