AFC South: 2012 Week 15 coverage
December, 17, 2012
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Thoughts on the Titans’ 14-10 victory over the Jets at LP Field:
What it means: The end of a three-game losing streak for Tennessee (5-9). Coach Mike Munchak can use a solid finish to prevent owner Bud Adams from considering a change after the season. Chris Johnson sprinted to a 94-yard touchdown that gave the Titans a lead in the first half. After the Jets pulled ahead in the third quarter, Jake Locker engineered what was probably the best drive of his young career and ran in from 13 yards out for what stood up as the winning score. The result knocked the Jets out of the AFC playoff picture.
Bad times for bad punts: Brett Kern shanked a punt out of the Titans' end zone to give the Jets some great field position late in the third quarter. New York drove 35 yards to a Mark Sanchez-to-Jeff Cumberland 17-yard touchdown pass. Linebacker Tim Shaw was in range, but had his back turned to the ball. Then, with 47 seconds left in the game, Kern punted 19 yards out of his own end zone, giving the Jets the ball at Tennessee's 25. Sanchez couldn't scoop up a low shotgun snap on the next play, running back Bilal Powell kicked it and Tennessee linebacker Zach Brown recovered it.
Rocky ground: While Locker made enough plays to win and got a bit of a signature drive, he missed on a lot of throws. He was long on multiple deep throws where receivers didn’t have a chance. Early in the fourth quarter with Kendall Wright open deep, Locker was late and short, allowing two defenders to get back in the play and break it up. Wright wound up getting hurt as he landed awkwardly on top of Antonio Cromartie.
Another injury: The Titans were already playing four replacement offensive linemen. They lost center Kevin Matthews late in the first quarter to a sprained right ankle. Kyle DeVan, who has been on and off the roster numerous times this season, played the rest of the game.
An awful number: The Titans committed a season-high 14 penalties for 111 yards. None was bigger than a personal foul against linebacker Will Witherspoon that extended a Jets drive near the end of the fourth quarter. Witherspoon was bailed out by Michael Griffin's interception on the first play after the two-minute warning, Griffin's second pick of the game.
Four picks: Tennessee made sure Sanchez’s miserable season stayed miserable, as Jason McCourty and Griffin each intercepted him twice.
What’s next: The Titans travel to Green Bay for their last road game and their final game against the NFC North. They’ve lost to Minnesota and Chicago and beaten Detroit.
December, 16, 2012
Thoughts on the Jacksonville Jaguars' 24-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens:
What it means: The Jaguars fell to 2-12 and still carry the same two big questions -- will they secure the No. 1 spot in the draft, and will general manager Gene Smith be around to make the pick?
What I didn’t like: Aside from the score, the biggest difference between the two teams was in the run game. The Dolphins ran 36 times for 180 yards, including a 53-yard dash by Reggie Bush and a 30-yard scamper by Ryan Tannehill. The Jaguars ran it 21 times for 86 yards and couldn’t get a yard for Montell Owens on a big fourth-and-1 early in the fourth quarter. Miami also had 26 first downs to Jacksonville’s 13. (Five of Miami’s came via penalty.) Such discrepancies contributed to a bad time-of-possession differential. Miami let the Jaguars hold the ball for just 24:22.
Big gaffe: The worst, most symbolic moment of the game came after Jacksonville sacked Tannehill, forcing and recovering a fumble. Chad Henne threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Justin Blackmon that should have put the Jaguars ahead 10-3. But tackle Guy Whimper, who’d come in the game and lined up as an eligible player running a route, failed to report and was flagged for an illegal substitution. Later, the drive ended without even a field goal as Henne failed to convert a fourth-and-1 run.
Zeros: The Jaguars were 0-for-3 on fourth down, 0-for-4 in the red zone and 0-for-1 with goal-to-go.
What’s next: After a month of work against bad teams, the Jaguars will get to see something totally different as the New England Patriots visit EverBank Field.
December, 16, 2012
HOUSTON -- Thoughts on the Houston Texans’ 29-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts at Reliant Stadium:
What it means: The Texans are the champions of the AFC South and have a 12-2 record. They are one game away from sweeping their six games against division opponents. The Colts blew their chance to stay in the division race. But at 9-5, Indy is still in position to secure a wild-card berth and join the Texans in the AFC playoff field.
What I loved: The way the Texans rebounded from a loss for the second time this season. J.J Watt is having a remarkable season, and this was probably his best game, with three sacks, a forced fumbled and five tackles for loss. The Colts simply had no answers for him. And while their need for offensive line help has been no secret, this game certainly crystallized a divisional matchup they need to be able to handle far better. The other stars showed up big, too, for the Texans -- with Andre Johnson turning 11 catches into 151 yards and a touchdown and Arian Foster helping milk the clock late as he topped off a 27-carry, 165-yard game.
What I didn’t like: The Colts struggled in the red zone and on third down, and that’s no recipe for success in a monstrous game. Andrew Luck has fallen into a pattern of overthrowing guys, which is a concern going forward. Reggie Wayne was rendered virtually invisible with just three catches for 14 yards. They did force the Texans to try six field goals.
What I want to know: Why did Colts interim coach Bruce Arians use running back Mewelde Moore so much early on? The veteran running back just rejoined the team because of injuries. But he killed the offense with a lost fumble at Houston’s 1-yard line and chipped in with two special teams penalties.
What’s next: The Texans host the Vikings and will try to slow Adrian Peterson as he nears the end of his monster season. Indianapolis heads for Kansas City to take on the Chiefs.