The Titans defeated the Texans 35-14 and earned their second playoff berth in 3 years. The Titans finished the season with a 9-7 record for the fourth season in a row. The Titans played a solid game and had a great offensive performance.
In the 4th quarter, Derrick Henry passed Nick Chubb as the NFL's leading rusher. Henry finished the game with 211 yards and finished the regular season with 1,540 yards. Henry also had a season-high 3 touchdowns. In addition to winning the rushing title, Henry also tied the league leader with 16 rushing touchdowns. Henry has had an incredible season and he capped it off with a fantastic game against the Texans.
AJ Brown also reached a milestone on Sunday after he caught a 25 yard pass from Marcus Mariota. Brown hit the mark of 1,000 receiving yards and he became the first Titans receiver to do this since Kendall Wright in 2013. Brown leads rookie receivers with 1,051 yards and ties the leader with 8 touchdowns. Brown has solidified himself as a rookie of the year candidate.
Here are some key stats from the game: (via ESPN)
QB Ryan Tannehill: 13/20 198yds 2 TD
RB Derrick Henry: 32 CAR 211 yds 3 TD 6.6avg
WR AJ Brown: 4 REC 124yds 1 TD 31.0avg
WR Corey Davis: 4 REC 44yds
S Kevin Byard: 7 TOT 6 SOLO 1 PD 1 INT
Total yards: 467
Passing yards: 222
Rushing yards: 245
Yards per play: 7.8
AJ McCarron: 21/36 225yds 0 TD 1 INT
RB Taiwan Jones: 9 CAR 40yds
WR DeAndre Carter: 6 REC 65yds
TE Jordan Akins: 5 REC 54yds
Total yards: 301
Passing yards: 192
Rushing yards: 109
Yards per play: 4.6
The beginning of the game made all Titans fans nervous after AJ McCarron and the Texans offense executed a strong, 75 yard touchdown drive. The Titans offense responded on the ensuing possession with a touchdown and they were dominant from that point forward.
Ryan Tannhill had another great game and made some incredible throws. One of the best throws was the 47 yard pass by Ryan Tannehill at the beginning of the 4th quarter. Tannehill threw a perfect ball and it was a fantastic catch by AJ Brown on the one yard line. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, the pass had just a 6.2% completion probability which is the lowest of any completed pass this season. I really liked the plays which featured two quarterbacks, with Marcus Mariota under center. Mariota has the ability to run or pass and that is another thing the Patriots must plan for.
The Titans win sends the them to the playoffs and they will play the New England Patriots on Wild Card weekend. The Patriots did not earn a first round bye for the first time since 2009. The Patriots are playing in the wild card after losing to the Dolphins 27-24 in one of the most surprising defeats of the season.
While Tom Brady does not look the same as in years past, the Patriots defense looks very strong. The Patriots defense ranks first in many defensive categories such as turnovers, points per game, and scrimmage yards per game. The Patriots defense has been dominant throughout the season and has won the Patriots games by themselves.
Over his career, Brady averages 4,130 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions per season. This season, he has 4,057 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. Statistically, Brady's numbers are above league average in all main categories. Brady has been better than people say and I think he will play much better in the playoffs as he always does. The Patriots have made the Super Bowl in 4 of the last 5 years in large part to the consistent play of Brady.
The Titans have a history with the Patriots and they played them twice in 2018. The first matchup was the second round of the playoffs which started off with Corey Davis' first career touchdown. The game got worse from there and it ended in a 35-14 loss. The second matchup, which came in Week 10 of the following season, was completely dominated by the Titans and they won 34-10. Corey Davis had a fantastic game in both games despite being covered by the Patriots number one corner, Stephon Gilmore in the second game. Patriots coach, Bill Belichick, will have a plan for suppressing the Titans offense and it will be interesting to see how he covers both Corey Davis and AJ Brown. The Titans now have many weapons and it has become progressively more difficult to slow them down.
The Titans took care of business and earned themselves a much deserved playoff spot. So many believed that the Titans season was over at 2-4 but the switch to Ryan Tannehill turned everything around. The Titans now have the opportunity to defeat the reigning super Bowl Champions, New England Patriots.