The real titans of the NFL arrived on Nov. 23, and they weren’t the team wearing baby blue.
The New York Jets visited the Tennessee Titans and did more than just win—they completely dominated the NFL’s last undefeated team on all sides of the ball. In a game where the Jets weren’t given much of a chance by anyone, they took LP Field and muscled Tennessee back to reality.
That’s no exaggeration. The Jets won in every aspect of the game extending far beyond the scoreboard. New York controlled the line of scrimmage, the clock, and the tempo for four quarters.
The Titans were on the road to becoming the 2008 darlings of the NFL, winning games convincingly with strong defense and dominant running.
Some of their methods had been figured out against recent opponents, but they managed to do enough to win games.
The Jets didn’t allow Tennessee to hit any kind of stride, completely handling the NFL’s last remaining juggernaut.
The final score was 34-13, but the game wasn’t even that close. Tennessee forced two turnovers that slowed down the addition of more points, but the Jets’ defense refused to let Tennessee ever come close to capitalizing.
Challenging Tennessee’s Strengths
Everyone knew the Titans could run the ball. They have a very good running combination with rookie standout Chris Johnson, and powerhouse LenDale White.
The two backs combined for 45 yards on 11 carries.
Big Kris Jenkins created fits for the Titans’ offensive line, forcing perennial Pro Bowler Kevin Mawae to do everything he could to stop him. But the damage was done. Jenkins broke through to stop plays and collapse the pocket for the majority of the afternoon.
But the domination didn’t stop there.
Jets’ running backs Thomas Jones and Leon Washington smashed through a Titans’ defense known for being stingy on the ground. They combined for 178 yards alone, including a 61-yard touchdown run by Washington to drive the nail in Tennessee’s coffin early in the fourth quarter.
The most important thing about their running was how it allowed New York to dominate the clock.
Long drives were orchestrated to keep a defense on the field that wasn’t accustomed to playing so much time.
The fans at LP Field showed their team how they felt as the game completely slipped away, booing loudly as New York drained over 40 minutes from the clock.
His Name is Dustin Keller
NFL, Dustin Keller… Dustin Keller, NFL—consider this an introduction. Welcome to the new definition of the mismatch.
Titans’ linebackers learned the hard way that he’s a tough one to cover. He lines up at tight end, but he’s not your typical lineman with hands and some speed.
Keller split the Titans’ defense for first downs all afternoon, and attracted their attention in the red zone. But the most important thing he did on Sunday was draw penalties.
Whenever Keller took off from the line of scrimmage, the Titans’ defense did whatever they could neutralize him, and he made them pay. Yellow flags flew in his favor as linebackers desperately tried to keep up.
Even when he wasn’t catching first downs, he was forcing them.
Keller has exploded in recent weeks, growing more comfortable with his role during his rookie campaign. Favre has told reporters that Keller doesn’t even “know how good he can be.”
Fortunately, the guys on the other side of the ball are learning the hard way.
Are the Jets on Everyone’s Radar Yet?
Make no mistakes—the New York Jets are for real.
That’s not blind optimism, words from a fan, or delusion. The Jets are on the most important win-streak they’ve had in over five seasons.
Some fans were waiting to reserve judgment on New York until this exact moment. For too long, fans have watched the Jets falter at the most inopportune time—watched the team let games slip away when destiny was within reach.
In New York’s five game streak, they’ve won on the road against teams known for having difficult fields to play on. The Buffalo Bills aren’t as strong as they were in the first quarter of 2008, but winning on their field opened eyes.
Winning in New England was a giant step forward, but people still refused to believe. After all, the Jets let an 18-point lead slip away only to squeak by in overtime, right?
But to go to the home of the AFC’s undefeated juggernaut and outplay them decisively should eliminate any questions about their abilities.