Throwback Thursday is a feature at Turn On The Jets, where we take a stroll down Jets Memory Lane and reminisce about great Jets games in the past against their upcoming opponent. (Word to not take seriously in that last sentence: “great”)
When I scoured the all-time box scores in the Jets-Titans/Oilers history, I realized that the Jets have only lost once to the Titans since they moved from Houston. Before that, the Oilers absolutely OWNED the Jets, delivering them crushing losses late in seasons and in the playoffs. I have faint memories of this season-ending debacle in 1994, where the playoff hopes of the 8-7 Jets were dashed in a 24-0 loss by backup QB Cody Carlson. In a must-win, the Jets got beat by a guy who sounds like a lax bro. So Jets.
But since they became the Tennessee Titans, it’s been almost all Jets. Remember in 2008, when Brett Favre led the 7-3 Jets into Nashville and beat the undefeated Titans, enrapturing the city in Subway Super Bowl talk? Then in 2009 the surprising 2-0 Jets, behind rookie head coach and rookie QB Mark Sanchez, beat the Titans 24-17 to improve to 3-0 as Jets fans streamed out of Giants Stadium and took to the streets proclaiming “FINALLY, WE HAVE A FRANCHISE QUARTERBACK!!!” Gee how perfectly that all worked out.
However, since we like to revel in self-pity here as Jets fans and on Throwback Thursday, I of course am going to focus on the one loss in Jets’ history against the Tennessee Titans. That came on December 23, 2007. Before we get to it, let’s set the scene…
Billboard No. 1 Song in the U.S.: “No One” by Alicia Keys. How appropriate! That is, if you watched the 12/12/12 Sandy Relief concert last night, where Alicia Keys killed a slowed-down version of this song, the weird “Put your cellphones in the aiiiiiir!” bit notwithstanding. And how about our beloved ass-fumbling QB making making an appearance in Adam Sandler’s “Hallelujah, Sandy Screw Ya” song? Vintage Sandler, by the way. If the recent epic failures of “Jack and Jill” and “That’s My Boy”, coupled with last night’s hilarious song isn’t proof that Sandler should stop making movies and go back to making comedy music albums, I don’t know what is.
No. 1 Movie in the U.S.: “National Treasure: Book of Secrets”. Is there a bigger injustice in the world than the fact that the current “Oscar for Best Actor” count is Nicolas Cage: 1, Leonardo Di Caprio: 0? Tell me if you can think of one, because I can’t.
Jets Record Before: 3-11
Titans Record Before: 8-5
The 2007 Jets were absolutely horrific. Injuries, instability at the quarterback position and iffy skill position players put the Jets behind the eight ball from the get-go (sound familiar?!). Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens both started eight games apiece. Despite being injured and playing on a flawed team, Pennington actually put up decent numbers. He threw for an average of 196 yards a game, completing 68% of his passes with 10 TDs and 9 INTs. Can someone please explain to me how 2007-Chad Pennington, with his right arm being held together by paper clips and twine, could throw for the same amount of yards per game than a healthy Mark Sanchez? This should be grounds for Tony Sparano’s firing in and of itself. Wait, you’re telling me that in 2008, Pennington revived his career and led the Dolphins to an 11-5 record and a division title under Sparano?! Nothing in my life makes sense anymore.
So in Week 16, Pennington led the Jets into his home state of Tennessee, hoping to hand the playoff-seeking Titans a death blow. Much like I would expect this Monday’s game to be, this one was a defensive struggle (a.k.a: lower than C-SPAN on the Excitement Meter). The first five drives of the game ended with punts. On the Jets’ third possession, Pennington was intercepted by Reynaldo Hill, giving the Titans good field position on the Jets’ 40. They converted it into the game’s first score, a four yard run by Chris Brown (the middling NFL running back, not the Worst Man in America pop star).
After a boring first quarter, Brown’s touchdown seemed to open the game up, if only for a few moments. The Jets responded with what was probably their best drive of the 2007 season. They took over on their own 23, picked up a first down and got to their own 41, setting up a 2nd-and-7. Pennington connected with Jerricho Cotchery for a 48-yard pickup, getting the Jets in scoring position. Two plays later, Pennington and Cotchery hooked up again, this time a 9-yarder for the game-tying touchdown.
Except Mike Nugent’s extra point was BLOCKED. The Titans remained up, 7-6, and Cotchery’s touchdown catch would be the Jets’ last points of the day.
Gang Green seemed poised to take the lead on their next possession, but Pennington was picked off in the end zone by Keith Bulluck. After THE NUGE missed a 51-yarder late in the second quarter, the Jets only had FOUR total possessions in the second half. Those went like this: Punt, Punt, Punt, and on their final drive, Pennington was sacked on fourth down, giving the Titans the ball and the ability to run the clock out. Somewhere along the way, Tennessee picked up a field goal so the final score read Titans 10, Jets 6.
Pennington actually had a pretty good day despite the two bad picks, finishing with 264 yards on 26-of-32 passing. 154 of those yards went to Cotchery. For some perspective, Stephen Hill has 163 yards in the last five games he’s played. But once he learns how to catch, watch out everybody.
This time around, the Jets are the ones clinging to their playoff lives and the Titans are the ones playing spoiler. If Monday’s game plays out just like the 2007 barnburner did but the Jets end up on top, Rex Ryan will be one happy man. As will all of Jets Nation.