Titans 7, Patriots 7 It didn’t matter, though, because James White took a shovel pass 5 yards to the house and New England is on the board.
The Patriots almost answered with a bizarre play where Dion Lewis appeared to not go down on a tackle and sprinted to the end zone, but replay revealed that he was definitely down.
Titans 7, Patriots 0 Another well-timed scramble by Mariota put the Titans inside the red zone. They got on the board with a beautiful one-handed catch from Corey Davis, silencing the Gillette Stadium crowd.
Tennessee’s offense woke up a little, with Maroita making a big throw to Delanie Walker and scrambling for a first down past midfield. The Patriots remain stuck in neutral.
The Titans’ opening drive didn’t go much better, with Mariota getting sacked on third down to force a punt.
Despite getting Rob Gronkowksi involved early (making his first playoff appearance since missing last year’s Super Bowl with an injury), the Patriots were forced to punt on their first possession.
The New England Patriots have been the NFL’s best team for a good portion of the regular season, and they’ll look to continue their dominance in the Divisional Round on Saturday. The Patriots host the Tennessee Titans, coming off a stunning comeback win over the Kansas City Chiefs. The game kicks off at 8:15 p.m. ET on CBS (live streams at CBS AllAccess,Yahoo! Sports, and FuboTV).
Last year’s Super Bowl champions are a favorite to repeat, having stormed through the season with a 13-3 record and the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC. After a 2-2 start in which they looked somewhat close to mortal, the Pats reeled off 11 of 12 wins to easily claim the AFC East crown for a ninth straight season.
Like always, the Patriots begin and end with Tom Brady, who’s still an MVP contender at age 40. He finished the year with 4,577 yards, 32 touchdowns, and just eight interceptions. Brady is a pretty safe bet to collect his third MVP award, with most of the other contenders either succumbing to injury or prolonged slumps.
The Titans nearly ended the regular season on a whimper, blowing an 8-4 start with three straight games, putting head coach Mike Mularkey on the hot seat. They squeaked into the playoffs with a Week 17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars and then upset the Chiefs in the Wild Card Round.
Tennessee came back from a 21-3 deficit thanks to a dominant performance by Derrick Henry, and a little bit of dumb luck as well. Marcus Mariota almost literally threw a touchdown pass to himself when the ball bounced off a Chiefs defender and back in his hands (just like they drew it up, no doubt).
Credit should also go to the Titans’ defense, which shut down the Chiefs in the second half after Travis Kelce exited with a concussion. They might have stumbled to the finish line in December, but the Titans walk into Gillette Stadium with a little spring in their step after their first playoff win since the 2003 season.
The Titans didn’t live up to raised expectations this season. They took a step with a postseason appearance, despite another 9-7 season. Mariota also didn’t take the leap many expected him to during the season, partially because of injuries.
But Mariota showed in a game where nobody gave the Titans a chance what he’s capable of. It was also a good reminder of what he, and the Titans, can still become.
The fact that Mike Mularkey said after the game on Saturday that he had gotten no reassurance on his job status in the building leads me to believe the reports were true- Mularkey would have been fired if the Titans lost either week 17 against the Jaguars or the Wild Card game against the Chiefs.
The fact that the reports were out there leads me to believe that Jon Robinson is absolutely calling the shots. He has Amy Adams Strunk’s ear on these things because we know how she feels about Mularkey. Remember, she hired Mularkey without really conducting a coaching search.
The Patriots brought in Stephon Gilmore in order to deal with pesky wide receivers like Eric Decker – the 6’3 giants that win with technique and give smaller cornerbacks like Malcolm Butler fits. Gilmore has an athleticism advantage over Decker, while not giving up any physical advantages. On the other side, Butler should be familiar with [Rishard] Matthews from back in his days with Miami. While Matthews is a quality possession receiver, Butler matches up well with him. Matthews isn’t going to overpower Butler with his speed or physicality, which plays to Butler’s strength, his technique.