The Tennessee Titans have virtually been given no chance to beat Tom Brady and the Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night. The 2010 New York Jets proved that there is no such thing as no chance.
In the Tom Brady era, the New England Patriots are 11-2 in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. One of those two losses happened in Denver in 2005. The other was in Foxborough in the 2010 season to the New York Jets.
The 2010 Jets finished the regular season 11-5, earned 2nd place in the AFC East and the 6th seed in the AFC. New York traveled to Indianapolis to knock off a Peyton Manning-led Indianapolis Colts team. The reward for winning? A game against the no. 1 seeded division rival Patriots at Gillette Stadium. The last time the Jets had played in Foxborough that season, the Patriots embarrassed them.
Going up against postseason Brady in Gillette was observed as a death sentence. No one gave New York a chance. The Jets knew what they were up against: the impossible.
Against All Odds
In 2010, New England boasted a 14-2 record, one of the losses being to Rex Ryan’s New York Jets. Ryan bested Bill Belichick, but not in Foxborough. In the second game of the 2010 season, the Jets pulled off a 28-14 win in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Brady exacted his revenge later on. The Jets traveled to New England and were completely decimated in December. Brady tossed four touchdowns and led the Pats to a crushing 45-3 victory.
Heading back to the site of their worst defeat of the season, no one gave the Jets a chance to beat a rested Patriots team. In fact, many penciled in the AFC Championship to be hosted in Foxborough, where Belichick and Brady would host either the #2 seeded Pittsburgh Steelers (sound familiar) or the Wild Card Baltimore Ravens.
Prior to the game, Hall of Fame RB LaDainian Tomlinson spoke some words of motivation to his Gang Green teammates. With an army of Jets circled around him, Tomlinson gave arguably the most inspirational pre-game speech ever.
"“Listen to me! Listen to me! They say it can’t be done! They say we have no chance! Hey, let me tell you something! Any man can be beat on any day! You hear me?! They ain’t invincible! Any man can be beat! You got to be willing to die today for it though, man! You got to be willing to die today! I am! What about you guys?!” – LaDainian Tomlinson"
The Tennessee Titans face similar circumstances. But inside the locker room, the Titans are living and breathing the words Tomlinson preached nearly a decade ago. His words echo in the hearts and minds of a Titans team whose backs are beyond pressed against the wall in the national spotlight. Tennessee has been pushed through the wall and are already being escorted back to Nashville.
The Titans know what stands ahead of them. Tennessee has nothing to lose and everything to gain. The most dangerous thing you can tell a man is “he can’t”. In the Titans’ case, the national media is doing just that.
No Wins are Automatic
Brady lost twice at Gillette Stadium this year. The last time the Patriots lost two home games with Brady at the helm was in 2012. That season ended with New England losing to the Ravens in the AFC Championship.
Last season, the Seahawks were his only defeat suffered at home in 2016. In 2015, the Eagles were Brady’s only loss at home in the month of December, when Brady is at his best.
The Buffalo Bills played Brady for a half in the last week of the 2014 regular season. The Patriots were already playoff bound, so Brady didn’t need to play. The loss still goes on his resume as he started the game.
In 2009, the Patriots were undefeated at home. The end result was a loss to Baltimore in a game hosted by New England. In the middle years of Brady’s career, playing at home nearly signaled a guaranteed win unless it was regular season matchups against Peyton or the occasional division split.
The point is: Brady’s numbers in the winter months, combined with the jewelry on his fingers, deem him one of the best, especially at home. But the fact that Brady does have some blemishes at home, and has lost at home in the postseason, highlight the fact that he and the Patriots are beatable.
The pressure is solely on New England. All things must come to an end. A titanic upset could be looming.
Saturday Night Special
New England is a 14-point favorite against the Titans heading into Saturday night’s game. The Titans last played a playoff game in Foxborough in 2004.
It was on a Saturday night. A questionable intentional grounding call coupled with an offensive holding penalty essentially removed the Titans from knotting the it up at 17 to send the game to overtime. A heartbreaking drop by WR Drew Bennett, on a 4th and 12 on a prayer pass by a hobbled Steve McNair, is how the night ended.
Brady is 9-1 in the playoffs on Saturdays. That lone loss was to a team from the AFC South.
The Titans are locked in and plan to be the second team in the AFC South to eliminate the Patriots on a Saturday night in Foxborough. The last team to do that? The Colts.
Indianapolis would go on to defeat the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl that season.
Titans Can Earn Respect
Tennessee will continue to be scrutinized throughout the week. The magic both QB Marcus Mariota and RB Derrick Henry orchestrated last Saturday on the road in Arrowhead has faded and was not recognized by the national media. Instead, the narrative was geared towards how Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs lost the game, as opposed to what was one of the most epic comebacks in playoff history.
Mariota continues to be judged by his 2017 regular season record, despite being injured throughout the season. In fact, injuries to his receiving corps prevented him from building rapport in the offseason.
The regular season record only punches the ticket into the postseason. Anything that happens now should be considered a season of its own. Mariota and the Titans are 1-0 in postseason play.
Luck is beginning to go in the Titans’ direction, and it couldn’t have happened at a better time. All season long, the bounces didn’t go in the Titans’ favor. Often times, the unlucky nature Tennessee underwent throughout the year was dire and resulted in some of their regular season losses. Luck plays a huge role in football, and the Titans are on the right side of it in the month of January.
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Mariota’s magical display of agility to make a play as a receiver on his own batted pass was the catalyst that triggered the comeback last weekend. Mariota and Henry’s undying refusal to lose catapulted the Heisman duo and the Titans into the Divisional Round.
The billed “unbeatable” Patriots, who many anticipated would cruise through the regular season unscathed en route to a back-to-back Super Bowl victory have lost games this season. At home.
On Saturday, they’ll face a hungry Titans team that just tasted its first postseason victory since 2004, when a win at Baltimore sent them to Foxborough. The Patriots would be the team to beat the Titans following their last playoff win.
How fitting would it be for the Titans to defeat the defending Super Bowl Champion Patriots? Everything comes full circle eventually.