The Tennessee Titans successfully pulled off an upset in the Wild Card round against the New England Patriots with a 20-13 victory on Saturday night.
It was a sweaty, sweaty game for the Tennessee Titans and their fans, but head coach Mike Vrabel’s squad ended up pulling out a 20-13 playoff victory over the New England Patriots on Saturday night that could be the fatal blow to the Pats’ dynasty.
As I try to fight off my shaky hands, let’s get to some analysis of what is one of the biggest wins in Titans franchise history.
-The Titans’ passing attack was non-existent in this game, as Ryan Tannehill finished 8-of-15 for just 72 yards and one touchdown. He also threw an ugly interception, but was bailed out by the Titans’ defense on the next drive. Tannehill fumbled twice, but luckily the Titans were able to recover both times. One was the result of a strip sack, and one occurred when a snap hit him in the hands.
-However, Tannehill made the plays when it mattered most, as he connected with Anthony Firkser for two key plays, one of which resulted in the Titans’ first touchdown, and the other on a huge third down conversion that helped Tennessee milk more clock late in the fourth quarter.
-The real star of this game on offense was Derrick Henry. The Alabama product rumbled his way for 182 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries, and his one score came at the end of a 75-yard drive in which Henry accounted for every single yard. He literally carried the Titans on his back tonight.
-Henry also had the second-most receiving yards against the Pats with one catch for 22 yards. The aforementioned Firkser led the way with 23, but other than that no Titans pass-catcher had double-digits. Tennessee’s wide receivers had just two catches for 10 yards combined.
-The offensive line had one of those 50/50 games. While Tannehill wasn’t exactly at his best tonight, he didn’t get much help from his offensive line in pass protection. On the flip side of that, the Titans’ group upfront dominated the Patriots, which led to Henry’s sensational game.
-To say that Tennessee’s defense bailed out the offense tonight would be an understatement. While it had some struggles against the Pats’ run game early on, Dean Pees’ group bent but didn’t break throughout the course of the game and kept Tom Brady in check to the tune of 209 yards passing. Had Logan Ryan held onto an interception late in the first half this game would have been a little less sweaty.
-What Tennessee’s defense didn’t do was get pressure on Brady, however the secondary played great football to alleviate that problem. Kenny Vaccaro in particular had himself quite a night, both in coverage and against the run.
-In what was perhaps the biggest series of the game, the Pats had the ball at the one-yard line and failed to score on three straight plays and settled for a field goal. Great plays by Rashaan Evans (twice), DaQuan Jones and Jeffery Simmons were key to making the stop.
-There’s nothing better than getting inside Bill Belichick’s head, and that’s exactly what Vrabel did. With the Titans clinging to a 14-13 lead with around six minutes remaining in the game and facing a punt, Vrabel proceeded to run the clock down with an intentional delay of game and false start. Then the Pats helped the Titans run more time off the clock with a neutral zone infraction. Belichick lost his mind over it.
-Offensive coordinator Arthur Smith saw the Titans were gaining yards on the ground at will early on and stuck with it the entire game. It was clear the Titans couldn’t pass to save their lives, thus it was important to keep feeding Henry the rock. With that said, Smith has got to figure out a way to get this passing attack going next week.
-Defensive coordinator Dean Pees got the job done on defense, limiting the Pats to just 13 points. But, as has been the case far too often this season, he wasn’t successful in getting enough pressure on Brady.