TORONTO - There was no Music City Miracle for the Tennessee Titans this day.
Needing to score from five yards out on the final play of the game, Titans backup quarterback Jake Locker instead was dropped for a loss after rolling right.
It not only ended the Titans spirited comeback bid against the New Orleans Saints but also likely put an end to their playoff bid as well.
With the 22-17 loss, the Titans dropped to 7-6 and in a deep hole as far as their playoff aspirations go.
The second-place finisher in the AFC North — either Baltimore or Pittsburgh and both are 10-3 — will become the top AFC wild-card seed. With their crush job of the Kansas City Chiefs, the New York Jets moved to 8-5 and hold the sixth seed. They are followed by Cincinnati at 7-6 and then the Titans.
It was an uphill battle for the Titans all game long and their chances of pulling off an upset of the Saints took a hit with 11:13 remaining in the second quarter when starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was forced to leave after suffering a strained left calf muscle.
That brought Locker into the game and the rookie from Washington came close to pulling it off.
After Drew Brees connected with Marques Colston for a 28-yard TD strike to put the Saints up 22-10 with 7:01 left in the game, many fans in the crowd started heading for the exits.
But starting from his own 35, Locker needed just three plays to make it 22-17, the final one a 40-yard touchdown pass to Nate Washington.
The Tennessee defence followed by holding the Saints to a three and out and following a punt, the Titans had it on their own 35 with 4:36 to go.
That’s when the drama really started to heat up.
The Titans drove down to the New Orleans 24 and on third and less than a yard, went for the home run strike, only to have Locker fire high.
On fourth down. Locker attempted a quarterback sneak but came up inches shy giving the Saints the ball with 2:18 to play.
Following a first-down, the Saints ran the ball twice but inexplicably coach Sean Payton had Brees throw on third and four and his pass fell incomplete. That stopped the clock and gave the Titans valuable time to mount one final charge.
With no timeouts remaining, Locker started on his own 20. On second and 10 from the Saints 45, Locker hit Washington over the middle for a 40-yard gain putting the ball on the five.
Locker spiked the ball to stop the clock with seven seconds left then failed to connect with Washington on a slant over the middle.
That left five seconds. Locker dropped back, couldn’t find a receiver, rolled right and with no receiver open was sacked ending Tennessee’s comeback dreams.
Even if the Titans win out over the final three weeks it may not be enough and in their season finale they have Houston on the road which will not be easy.
The Saints, meanwhile, moved to 10-3 and need another win or Atlanta loss to clinch the NFC South.
JETS HOLD HAMMER
The New York Jets moved into the driver’s seat in the race for the final playoff spot but mugging a punchless and defenceless Kansas City Chiefs team 37-10.
It was a one-side affair all the way and lifted the Jets to 8-5 and in control of their playoff destiny.
The Jets, though, have it tough over their final three games as next week they are on the road in Philadelphia to face an Eagles team that is holding out hope of a miracle finish and the NFC East division title.
After that it’s the Giants in the battle of New York followed by a final road trip, this one to Miami.
The Jets wrapped up their victory by the half and cruised from there.
Quarterback Mark Sanchez had an easy time as he threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more. No boos rained on the Jets quarterback this day.
It was an embarrassing performance by the Chiefs as they could do little on either side of the ball.
Quarterback Tyler Palko was sacked five times and as the score piled up the Chiefs became completely unglued.
On the Jets final TD drive, the Chiefs were penalized five times for 81 yards including an unsportsmanlike conduct call on coach Todd Haley.