-Why is the Titans offense stalling?
-Why are they letting the Patriots drive down the field?
-Why isn’t Ryan Tannehill and the passing offense connecting?
-Why did Logan Ryan drop a potential pick six?
-Why can’t they score points in the second half this time?
-Why didn’t Mike Vrabel go for it on 4th down?
-Why are you letting James White get free yards?
-Why didn’t Logan Ryan take a knee on his pick six?
None of these questions mattered in the end.
Unbelievable. This was far from the best game the Titans played all season and they still knocked out the defending Super Bowl champs. This was a Patriots team 1) that had made the previous three Super Bowls, 2) that had never missed a Conference Championship Game since 2010, 3) that had never went one and done since that same year, 4) that had never lost to the Titans in the postseason...
...and the Titans ended all four streaks.
Words cannot describe how happy I feel. I never grew up a Titans fan (Browns), but I joined Music City Miracles in 2018 sensing a team that could threaten the top AFC teams with a few more pieces. In the last two seasons I started branching out and covering teams for various websites as opposed to the independent Wordpress blog I ran in seasons past.
And I was able to witness a playoff win from the Titans. Not bad from the guy that normally jinxes anything positive the team does!
The Titans had numerous flaws, gave the Patriots numerous opportunities to take the lead back in the fourth quarter, but somehow, some way, they held on in spectacular fashion. This was huge for former Patriots such as Logan Ryan, Dion Lewis, and of course Mike Vrabel, a former linebacker in New England. For as much as fans complained about his decision making, this time he came victorious in the biggest game of his career.
And wouldn’t you know it, Vrabel is now 2-0 against Bill Belichick, having won at home last season and now on the road in the playoffs this season!
As aforementioned this was far from a complete game, but the Titans knocked out one of the best dynasties in sports history 20-13, and here’s three things we learned from said victory!
The Titans Have Ryan Tannehill’s Back Even When He Isn’t Producing
There’s no way you’re allowed to win on the road against the Patriots if your quarterback doesn’t even come close to reaching 100 passing yards on the day. In his first career playoff game Ryan Tannehill only had 72 and added a careless 4th quarter interception as well. In those circumstances you probably deserve to lose in Foxboro.
And yet, something about this team has been different from past Titans teams. When one unit fails to step up, another does. Here it was not just the run game (big shock) but the defense as well. This is far from the same Patriots offense that dominated in seasons’ past (not to mention a failed connection from Tom Brady to Julian Edelman late in the game helped matters), but holding them to 13 points at Gillette Stadium is nuts.
This was supposed to be the game where a national audience would be convinced Tannehill cemented his worth going forward, and it was actually Derrick Henry and the defense that captivated America. Still, Tannehill had a couple of key third down conversions late in the game to keep drives going and waste more clock, and his early touchdown helped Tennessee jump to an early lead.
Tannehill’s going to need a much better performance against the Ravens next week, but at least his team was able to rally around him against the best dynasty in NFL history. And more importantly, he secured his first career playoff win!
Selecting Rashaan Evans In 2018 Was Massive
The popular pick for player of the game is Derrick Henry, but I had another option it would have to be Rashaan Evans. The second-year first round pick at linebacker had the biggest performance of his career on Saturday, with 10 tackles and 3 TFL. No play, however, was bigger than the two he made near the end of the first half as the Patriots offense was on the Tennessee goal line.
This is an extremely well blocked running play; Sony Michel has a clear path to the end zone as the back end of the Titans defense can’t get there until it’s too late. Or at least it would have been had Evans not been so aggressive with the tackle. His processing, speed, and angle on the jump tackle practically saved the Titans season as the Patriots suffered a loss on the play.
Word cannot describe how clutch this tackle is. For a team that’s had to endure being on the losing side of “The Tackle” for so long, it’s a breath of fresh air to get one that goes in their favor.
Evans also contributed on a tackle on the very next play, and on third down made yet another TFL to force a field goal.
Once again Michel has good blocking up front, and could take an outside angle left to score the touchdown. There’s just one problem: Evans gets by and stonewalls Michel with a TFL that essentially stalls the Patriots’ drive.
These two plays were the biggest of the game. A Patriots touchdown essentially ices this game, seeing how good New England has been holding onto two-score leads. But the series of tackles from Evans breathed new life into the Titans, and the offense finally took advantage of a defensive stop on the very next drive, taking a lead they would never relinquish.
Punters Really ARE People Too!
It’s time we talk about Titans punter Brett Kern. Normally you would not associate a punter as one of your best players in a game, and if you did you most likely lost. Not on this occasion, as Kern had several key punts (including his last one to pin the Patriots on their own 1-yard line just before Logan Ryan’s game sealing pick six) that greatly helped the field position battle for the Titans defense.
The 3x Pro Bowler was recently named First Team All Pro by The Associated Press for his efforts in 2019, and this game highlighted why perfectly.
With that said, what did you guys learn about this thrilling playoff victory? Give us your thoughts in the comment section below!