NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Chris Johnson went 94 yards for the longest touchdown run in the NFL since 2006 and the Tennessee Titans beat the Jets 14-10 on Monday night to eliminate New York from playoff contention.
Jake Locker's first touchdown run of the season put Tennessee ahead late in the third quarter and the Titans intercepted four passes by a struggling Mark Sanchez to snap a three-game skid.
The Jets (6-8) needed to win their final three games and get help elsewhere to earn an AFC playoff spot. Instead, the Titans sacked Sanchez three times and got a fourth on Tim Tebow. Jason McCourty and Michael Griffin each had two interceptions, keeping the Jets out of the playoffs a second straight season after reaching consecutive AFC title games.
Johnson, with the names of the victims of Friday's shootings in Connecticut written on his cleats, ran 94 yards for a franchise-record TD in the second quarter. Locker's 13-yard TD run at the end of the third put the Titans (5-9) ahead to stay.
The Pittsburgh Penguins seized the early series lead with a 3-2 victory in Game 1 on Thursday. Here are three key observations from the game.
1. Sidney Crosby is already having a better series than last year
Despite losing to the Penguins in last year’s series, the Caps actually played Crosby very tough, allowing him only two assists and no goal in six games. After Game 1, he already has two goals. That’s a bad sign. While limiting Pittsburgh’s secondary scoring will be key, Washington also cannot allow Pittsburgh’s top player to run wild on them. He will make them pay for every mistake they make.
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2. Braden Holtby is still not at his best
After a shaky start to the Toronto series, Holtby rebounded with two strong performances in Games 5 and 6 to help lead the Caps to the series win. Thursday was a step back. You cannot blame him for the first goal. What is a goalie supposed to do on a 2-on-1 against Crosby? The second goal, however, Holtby got his glove on the initial shot by Olli Maatta, but was unable to catch it. The resulting rebound was tipped to Crosby for the goal. Make no mistake, these are the best two teams left in the playoffs. It will take a superhuman effort to win. Allowing three goals on 21 shots isn’t it. I still do not think it is time to even consider putting in Philipp Grubauer, however. Holtby is not the reason why the Caps are losing, he is just not playing at a level in which he will be able to steal a game for Washington anytime soon.
3. Pittsburgh forwards play incredibly high
All year Trotz has stressed to his forward the importance of getting back on defense and not getting caught too far up the ice. Pittsburgh‘s forwards do the exact opposite. When back on defense, the Penguins’ forwards play very high in the defensive zone. There were even times when a forward was skating at mid-ice when Washington was still attacking. Pittsburgh is a fast team that likes to push the rush. By playing so aggressive, they are able to get the puck out of the zone and push the attack faster. But this comes at a price as they leave themselves more vulnerable in the defensive zone. The Caps need to be aware of how quickly Pittsburgh can push the counter, but they also need to take advantage of their vulnerability defensively.
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The Redskins got one of the biggest steals of the first round of the NFL draft when Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen fell to them at pick No. 17 of the first round.
Allen was coveted by the Redskins for several reasons. The defensive line is their biggest area of need. They lost Chris Baker in free agency and although they signed free agents Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain they still were in need of both youth and a bell cow on the line.
Allen provides both. He is an asset rushing the passer (10.5 sacks last year) and against the run (16 tackles for a loss). He surprised many by staying with the Crimson Tide for his senior year and he benefitted by being able to refine his technique and hone up on his fundamentals. The Ashburn native is strong and athletic and uses his hands well.
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He becomes the first defensive player taken in the first round by the Redskins since they drafted outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan in 2011. They have not drafted a defensive lineman in the first since they took Kennard Lang back in 1997.
Allen slid in the draft over concerns over his shoulders, both of which have been surgically repaired. On a conference call he told reporters that he was cleared by all of the teams that examined him, but there must have been some lingering uneasiness. Otherwise such a talented player would not have fallen at least a dozen picks below where the consensus said he should have gone.
Allen will have a short drive from his home to rookie camp in two weeks. He went to Stone Bridge High in Ashburn, about 10 minutes from Redskins Park.
Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.