Running back Joe McKnight of the New York Jets runs...

Running back Joe McKnight of the New York Jets runs the ball against strong safety Jordan Babineaux of the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. (Dec. 17, 2012) Credit: Getty

Grading the Jets' performance in a 14-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans.


One touchdown against a terrible defense isn’t going to cut it. But Mark Sanchez’s five turnovers (four interceptions, one fumble) sunk this team from the start. Though the Jets nearly matched the Titans’ rushing-yard total (146-167), it was the play of the quarterback that helped derail any semblance of an offensive attack. Besides the lone touchdown pass he threw to Jeff Cumberland in the third quarter, Sanchez single-handedly thwarted every comeback opportunity the Jets had. Tim Tebow, who played an entire series Monday night, finished with a higher passer rating than Sanchez (39.6 compared with 32.6) – and the No. 2 QB didn’t complete a pass.


The unit kept the Jets within striking distance, evidenced by the defense’s four sacks for a loss of 22 yards. But the group, which Rex Ryan expected would finish the season in the Top 5, gave up a 94-yard touchdown to running back Chris Johnson and a 12-yard score to quarterback Jake Locker. But aside from Johnson’s one long TD run, the Jets held the running back to just 28 yards on his other 20 rushing attempts. The Jets defense also held Kenny Britt to just one catch for seven yards.


It was an all-around solid outing for Mike Westhoff’s unit. While Titans punter Brett Kern booted the ball 19 yards out of bounds to give the Jets new life on the Tennessee 25 with 47 seconds left, Robert Malone did his part for the Jets. His 53-yard punt pinned the Titans on their 5-yard line early in the second quarter, and three of his six punts were within the 20. Kicker Nick Folk gave the Jets an early 3-0 lead with a 22-yard field goal, and Joe McKnight also chipped in a 28-yard kickoff return to close out the third quarter. But Jeremy Kerley had six fair catches while on punt-return duty and returned only one punt for 7 yards.


Is there any rhyme or reason to how, and when, the Jets decide to integrate Tebow. Their plan all along was to use only Tebow at quarterback on the third series of the game, regardless of the score. And their insertion of Tebow in rather odd moments helped to disrupt Sanchez’s rhythm. But perhaps their biggest failure was not dressing Greg McElroy. For the second straight week, the third-stringer was an able body on the sideline, who was unable to help the team.

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