NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jurrell Casey wanted to apologize to his teammates for not controlling himself, and the Titans defensive tackle wasn’t sharing what was said between him and Jets quarterback Geno Smith.
Titans linebacker Wesley Woodard blamed himself for a personal foul keeping alive the Jets’ drive for the go-ahead touchdown. And tight end Delanie Walker thought he was going to score on the final play following three laterals.
Instead, the Titans lost 16-11 to the Jets on Dec. 14 in the first NFL game decided by that score, though Tennessee followed a familiar script this season with more critical penalties and a blown lead in yet another loss where only its draft status safe at the end.
“When Delanie has the ball in his hands, I always get excited,” Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “I wish he would have pitched it back inside to one of those guys.”
The Titans (2-12) lost their eighth straight and 11th in 12 games in the worst skid since 1994 when these were the Houston Oilers. Titans President Tommy Smith refused to talk to a reporter in the locker room after the game.
The game was marked by a brawl sparked by Casey hitting Smith in the face in the third quarter during a replay review. Casey wasn’t ejected, but he needed receiver Nate Washington to pull down both sleeves and his jersey after throwing a couple other punches at Jets right tackle Breno Giacomini.
“I just have to control my emotions in that situation,” Casey said. “You know words don’t hurt you. He didn’t put his hands on me, and I shouldn’t have put my hands on him.”
Whisenhunt said he thought a couple of Jets (3-11) came off the bench in the melee. Jets coach Rex Ryan thought his quarterback took a punch in the face. “But apparently, he didn’t get hit,” Ryan said.
Casey stayed in the game after receiving only a personal foul, which eased the Jets losing an 81-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Eric Decker. Smith finished off the drive with a 9-yard TD pass to John Conner giving the Jets their first lead of the game.
The Titans already had lost quarterback Jake Locker to a dislocated left shoulder. Locker, starting with Zach Mettenberger already out with his own sprained shoulder, left the game late in the first half after being hit by Jets end Quinton Coples who also helped knock Locker out of the game the last time these teams met in September 2013.
He returned to the sideline, but Whisenhunt said Locker would have been able to only hand off it needed.
Tennessee has a short turnaround — the Titans visit Jacksonville on Dec. 18 night — and Locker said he has no idea if he will be available. “It’s a little painful,” Locker said of his shoulder. “I get a chance to go in tomorrow and get a better idea about where it’s at.”
Woodyard’s penalty came after the Jets had thrown incomplete on third-and-15. A 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct kept alive the Jets’ drive, and Chris Ivory capped it with a 1-yard TD run with 3:09 left. The 2-point conversion failed, but the 16-11 lead was enough.
The Titans got to the Jets 22 with 2 minutes left before turning it over on downs with a sack by Coples and three incompletions.
They got it back with 21 seconds and were near midfield for the final play. Whitehurst, playing with Jake Locker out with an injured left shoulder, threw to Dexter McCluster, who lateraled to Nate Washington. The receiver threw back to Whitehurst, who lateraled to Walker — who was tackled by Dawan Landry to seal the Jets’ win.
“A lot of times when you run that play, you don’t even get within striking distance,” Whitehurst said. “We had a chance with a lateral play to make something happen, and we got pretty close.”
Ryan Succop kicked three field goals for Tennessee, the last a 51-yarder with 2:02 left in the third quarter for an 11-10 lead.
(TERESA M. WALKER, AP Pro Football Writer)