NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Geno Smith and the New York Jets showed they can take a punch and bounce back with a win. The Tennessee Titans keep trying to keep their composure and failing.
Smith shook off a punch to his head to throw a touchdown, and the Jets rallied to edge the Titans 16-11 on Sunday in the first NFL game to end with that score in a game that also will be remembered for a short brawl in the third quarter.
Some Jets apparently went onto the field once the scuffle started as the Titans were challenging an 81-yard touchdown by Eric Decker overturned to a 48-yard catch. Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey hit Smith, but wouldn't share what they said to each other. Casey was not ejected.
"Having your quarterback getting punched in the face or what looked like a punch in the face, sometimes something like that happens," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "But you want to keep your players on the sideline. I clearly have to do a better job of that."
The Jets improved to 3-11, snapping a three-game skid with their first road win. They also hurt their chances at the top overall draft pick, not that any of these Jets care.
"We can't worry about draft picks or anything like that," Jets safety Calvin Pryor said.
The Titans (2-12) have lost eight straight and 11 of 12 along with quarterback Jake Locker dislocating his left shoulder. They now have a short turnaround with a visit to Jacksonville on Thursday night, and they currently would draft No. 2 overall.
"We left our guts out there," Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "It's hard, no question."
Here are some things to know from this battle for draft position:
CJ'S RETURN: Ryan made Chris Johnson a game-day captain in his return to play the team that cut the running back in April. Johnson also started the game, and the man nicknamed CJ2K averaged 5.5 yards on 10 carries. Johnson also had his long run of 37 yards out of the wildcat on the Jets' game-winning drive down to the Titans 4.
"There was motivation, but I just tried to block all that out and tried to focus on the New York Jets needing a win and tried to make plays," Johnson said.
LOCKER'S HEALTH: The Titans already were on their second quarterback when Locker dislocated his left, non-throwing shoulder when hit by Jets end Quinton Coples late in the first half.
Locker started for Zach Mettenberger, who has a sprained left shoulder expected to keep him out the final two games. Charlie Whitehurst finished the game, but injuries also had the Titans down to their second emergency quarterback in receiver Kris Durham. Locker said he won't know if he will be available against the Jaguars until getting his shoulder checked further Monday.
"It's a little painful," Locker said.
THAT SAFETY: The officials initially called the Jets' safety a fumble recovered by New York before Whisenhunt challenged. He had a rare win when a review showed Smith was throwing as he hit the grass in the end zone. Smith said he was trying to throw to Chris Ivory, while the official ruling was intentional grounding with the result a safety. The NFL said later referee John Parry would have ruled intentional grounding if the play had been an incomplete pass before the review, so the replay review involved only whether it was a pass or fumble.
THOSE LATERALS: The Titans subbed out all their offensive linemen on the final play, keeping only the center for a play where Charlie Whitehurst threw to Dexter McCluster.
He lateraled to Nate Washington, who then threw backward to Whitehurst. The quarterback ran 20 yards to the Jets 42 before tossing back to Delanie Walker who got to the Jets 9 before being tackled to end the game.
"I probably should have stayed up the middle, but it's a crucial moment and I was just trying to make a play," Walker said.
Ryan said he thought Whitehurst's toss to Walker was a forward pass that should have been blown dead to avoid injury.
THREE WINS THERE, REX: The Jets coach was so excited about getting a rare win this season that he misspoke on just how many victories they have.
"Jets fans want to win," Ryan said. "Are you kidding me? We have only got two of them."