(AP) Titans lose Jake Locker to injury, beat Jets 38-13
By TERESA M. WALKER
AP Sports Writer
The Titans beat up Geno Smith. The New York Jets knocked Jake Locker out of the game with a hip injured seriously enough to send Tennessee’s quarterback to the hospital.
Locker threw a career-high three touchdowns before being carted off the field, and the Titans routed the Jets 38-13 for their second straight victory.
Locker was hurt with 11:14 left in the third quarter when hit first by Muhammad Wilkerson after throwing an incomplete pass, then popped by Quinton Coples. He grabbed at his hip as he went to the ground and was taken from the field before being loaded into an ambulance. The Titans had no immediate word on the severity of his injury.
Alterraun Verner intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble, Karl Klug sacked Smith and stripped him of the ball for a TD as the Titans turned Smith’s four turnovers into 28 points. Ropati Pitoitua had two of Tennessee’s five sacks as the Titans (3-1) continued their surprising start.
The Jets (2-2) couldn’t overcome Smith’s rookie mistakes, especially not after receiver Stephen Hill was knocked out of the game with a head injury on the second offensive play.
Smith had one fewer turnover than Mark Sanchez did last December when the Jets lost to the Titans 14-10 in an ugly game between two teams headed to 6-10 finishes. The Jets cut their penalties in half from a week ago when they had 20, but it wasn’t enough with all the turnovers.
Now the Titans already have half as many wins through the first month as they managed all of 2012, and they joined the 1995 St. Louis Rams as the only teams in the Super Bowl era without a turnover through the first four games.
But the victory was overshadowed by Locker’s injury.
He missed five games last year with a dislocated shoulder, an injury that affected him throughout the season. Fully healthy, Locker was starting to play like the franchise quarterback the Titans wanted when they drafted him No. 8 overall in 2011 out of Washington.
Against the Jets, Locker completed passes to seven different receivers with TD passes to Delanie Walker, Nate Washington and rookie Justin Hunter for a 24-6 halftime lead.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, signed in March to back up Locker, started slowly coming off the bench. But he connected with Washington on a 77-yard TD during which the receiver went up for the ball away from Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, knocked down back judge Billy Smith as he landed and then ran to the end zone for a 38-13 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
The Jets managed one TD drive in the fourth quarter as Smith threw a 34-yard pass to Jeff Cumberland. Nick Folk kicked a pair of field goals.
It just wasn’t enough with the Titans blitzing Smith and hitting him repeatedly. Verner stepped in front of Hill and intercepted Smith’s first pass at midfield and ran it back 34 yards with safety Michael Griffin leveling Hill after the catch.
Verner also recovered a fumble after Titans linebacker Zach Brown chopped the ball away from Smith, setting up Locker’s second TD pass. Verner got his second interception late in the first half to set up Locker’s third TD pass to Hunter.