Is it an upset if a significant majority expect it?
Tennessee were seen as outsiders in this game who, behind Derrick Henry’s bulldozing running, Ryan Tannehill’s emergence as an offensive threat, and the play calling of offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, had a real chance to emerge from Foxborough victorious.
Henry certainly held up his side of the bargain putting up over 100 yards rushing by half time. Whilst the Titans offensive line opened up holes for the thumping halfback, he was routinely able to get yards after contact, accumulating chunk gains for Tennessee. It’s obvious that Henry is the engine of the offence and he will obviously be crucial for the Titans against the Ravens in the Divisional Round. If they can pound the rock and take the air out of the football, it will limit opportunities for ballhawking Ravens defender Marcus Peters.
Vrabel will be pleased with how his defence played against an offence that whilst clearly not what it has been in prior years, can never be ruled out, especially in the playoffs. The exclamation mark on the unit’s performance was a goal line stand in the second quarter on Tennessee’s 1- and 2-yard line where they stuffed Patriots runners on three consecutive rush attempts. The cherry on the cake was Logan Ryan’s pick six of Brady with 15 seconds of the game left, especially seen as he had missed the opportunity of another interception earlier in this matchup.
The Tennessee head coach also ‘Belichicked’ the Patriots. In the fourth quarter Vrabel instructed his special team unit to take multiple penalties, including delay of game and an intentional false start in order to run more time off the clock. When the offence eventually got the ball back, the Titans were able to run the clock down further behind repeated Henry rushes and a punt to pin Brady and the Patriots offence at their 1-yard line.
Tannehill will be hoping to put on more of a performance of the kind we have become accustomed to seeing from him since being handed the starting job in the Music City. He was 8 of 15 for 72 yards, including one touchdown and one interception in the game.
The ex-Miami Dolphin’s brightest moment was beating a Patriots blitz on the Titans opening drive of the game to deliver a touchdown strike to backup tight end Anthony Firkser. Keeping the ball out of the air wasn’t a bad decision against the Patriots defence and Stephon Gilmore, but I would expect to see the passing game featuring more next week against Baltimore.