EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Tennessee Titans may have lost more than just a football game in Sunday’s 24-17 loss to the New York Jets.
Nickelback Vincent Fuller suffered a broken forearm on the next-to-last play of the first quarter, and will miss significant time with the injury – perhaps the remainder of the season.
Former Titans cornerback Eric King suffered a broken forearm twice in his career with Tennessee, and both were season-enders.
Rookie Ryan Mouton, who struggled with two costly fumbles in the return game Sunday, replaced Fuller in the nickel package.
The Titans also lost cornerback Cortland Finnegan to a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter. Immediately after spotting Finnegan out of the lineup and rookie Jason McCourty in at right cornerback, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez went deep for a 46-yard completion to Jerricho Cotchery that set up Jay Feely’s 30-yard field goal.
After the game, Finnegan declined comment to reporters who approached him.
The Titans were already thin in the secondary, as they released cornerback Cary Williams last week to make room for punter Reggie Hodges after Craig Hentrich’s injury.
In the locker room after the loss, it was more of the same story for a Titans team that suddenly has been unable to win close games, despite having chances to do so late in games.
The Titans on Sunday had no yards passing in the fourth quarter, and again needing to put together a final drive to tie or go ahead, Tennessee misfired.
The Titans have scored just three points in the fourth quarter all season – Rob Bironas’ 45-yard field goal in the opener against Pittsburgh.
Quarterback Kerry Collins was just 15 of 37 for 170 yards, but missed on his last 13 throws, thanks in part to some key drops from receivers. Still, no matter where the blame lies, the Titans’ troubles can be traced in part to their inability to score in the latter portion of games.
“We had a chance to win in the fourth quarter, and we came up short again,” running back LenDale White said. “For the third week in a row, we had a chance to win the football game or at least tie it up, and we couldn’t get it done.”
Collins took his share of the blame, saying, “We were able to take the lead, but things happen in football games, and we didn’t overcome the mistakes we made.”
The drops and the pressure that forced two sacks, two interceptions and several hurried throws also played a big role.
“We have to back Kerry up. He had a lot of pressure on him back there today,” receiver Nate Washington said. “It doesn’t matter how many turnovers he has, it’s our job to pick him up, and in that fourth quarter, that last stretch, I don’t think we did a good job.”
Vince Young served as the Tennessee Titans third quarterback after missing Friday’s practice because of an illness.
Other Titans inactives New York Jets included punter Craig Hentrich, linebacker Stanford Keglar, tackle Troy Kropog, tight end Bo Scaife, receiver Lavelle Hawkins and defensive linemen Sen’Derrick Marks and Dave Ball.
Jets inactives were quarterback Kevin O’Connell, cornerbacks Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland, linebacker Jamaal Westerman, offensive lineman Matt Slauson, defensive lineman Ropati Pitoitua and receiver David Clowney. Former Tennessee Vols quarterback Erik Ainge is the third quarterback.
Ryan Fowler, cut by the Titans at the end of training camp, and signed by the Jets was on of New York’s captains for the coin toss on Sunday.
Another ex-Titan, tight end Ben Hartsock, caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from Mark Sanchez to give the Jets a 14-0 lead.