The New York Jets’ slim chances of making the National Football League playoffs were dashed with a 14-10 loss in Tennessee, where their season-long offensive woes were encapsulated by a five-turnover performance.
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez threw a season-high four interceptions, including two in the fourth quarter, and fumbled away his team’s final snap after getting the ball at the Titans’ 25-yard line in the final minute.
The Jets fell to 6-8 with two regular-season games left and will miss the NFL playoffs for the second straight year.
“That’s a devastating loss,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said at his postgame news conference. “It hurts beyond belief. The thing that really hurts the most is that we’ve got no one to blame but ourselves.”
While the Jets’ offense failed to score a first-half touchdown for the fourth game in a row, their defense gave up a 94-yard touchdown run to Chris Johnson in the second quarter and a go-ahead 13-yard scoring run by quarterback Jake Locker with 28 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Jets still had several chances to win against a Titans team that entered the game with a 4-9 record and a three-game losing streak. Sanchez, however, threw his third interception with seven minutes, nine seconds remaining, as his pass intended for Braylon Edwards was grabbed by Michael Griffin at the Tennessee 24-yard line.
Sanchez, who was told by Ryan several weeks ago to limit his turnovers, threw another interception on the Jets’ next possession. New York drove to Tennessee’s 23-yard line before Sanchez’s deep pass into triple coverage was picked off by Griffin at the Titans’ 2-yard line with 1:51 left.
“I just threw it a little late,” said Sanchez, who completed 13 of 28 passes for 131 yards. “We had a quick play action and I should have aborted it based on the look.”
The Jets got a final chance to try to pull out the win after a 19-yard punt by the Titans’ Brett Kern gave them the ball on Tennessee’s 25-yard line with 47 seconds remaining.
Instead, the NFL’s third-worst offense misfired again as Sanchez wasn’t able to handle a low shotgun snap. Running back Bilal Powell kicked the loose ball as he slid over to block and the Titans recovered the fumble to seal the victory.
“I’ve got to catch the ball,” Sanchez said. “It doesn’t feel good hurting your team like that.”
After the game, Ryan said he wasn’t ready to commit to which quarterback would start on Dec. 23 against the San Diego Chargers. With the Jets out of playoff contention, the Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins are competing for the final two postseason berths in the American Football Conference.
The Houston Texans, New England Patriots and Denver Broncos have locked up AFC division titles, while the Baltimore Ravens clinched at least a playoff spot.
The Colts (9-5) and Bengals (8-6) are currently in position for the AFC’s final two postseason spots, with the Steelers (7-7) and Dolphins (6-8) still in the hunt.
“We had the opportunity and we just let it slip away from us,” Jets defensive end Mike DeVito said. “It’s frustrating, disappointing and this one is going to hurt for a long time.’
In the National Football Conference, three of the six playoff representatives have been determined, as the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers claimed division titles, and the San Francisco 49ers won a postseason spot. Seven teams are in contention for the final three berths, with the Seattle Seahawks (9-5), Minnesota Vikings (8-6) and Washington Redskins (8-6) currently in position for those spots.
The Chicago Bears (8-6), Dallas Cowboys (8-6), New York Giants (8-6) and St. Louis Rams (6-7-1) need to win their final two games to have a chance to make the playoffs.