The Titans defeated the Patriots 20-13 in a tight game. All the points except a pick six with 15 seconds remaining came in the 1st half. The game was back and forth in the first half but it appeared that the Patriots had a much more balanced offense.
The Titans did little in the passing game and most of the offensive success came through Derrick Henry. Here are some key stats from the game:
QB Ryan Tannehill: 8/15 72yds 1 TD 1 INT 1 FUM (recovered)
RB Derrick Henry: 34 CAR 182yds 1 TD 1 REC 22yds
TE Anthony Firkser: 2 REC 23yds 1 TD
WR Corey Davis: 0 REC 2 tgts *first time he has not had a reception since Week 1 vs Browns
LB Rashaan Evans: 10 TOT 6 SOLO 3 TFL
CB Tramaine Brock Sr: 4 TOT 4 SOLO 2 PD
CB Logan Ryan: 6 TOT 3 SOLO 1 PD 1 INT (returned for TD)
Pass yards: 71
Rush yards: 201
Total yards: 272
Time of Possession: 31:09
QB Tom Brady: 20/37 209yds 0 TD 1 INT
RB Sony Michel: 14 CAR 61yds
RB James White: 1 CAR 14yds 5 REC 62yds
LB Dont'a Hightower: 9 TOT 8 SOLO 1 TFL
CB Duron Harmon: 2 TOT 2 SOLO 1 PD 1 INT
Pass yards: 209
Rush yards: 98
Total yards: 307
Time of Possession: 28:51
The Titans certainly did not play their best game but they ultimately won the game. Ryan Tannehill had his worst performances as a Titan but he made a few clutch throws such as the 11 yard pass to Anthony Firkser with 2:54 remaining in the game.
The Titans passing game struggled throughout the game and the wide receivers caught just 2 passes. Tannehill missed a few throws but the receivers were not making plays as they often do. Rookie of the year, AJ Brown, was completely taken out of the game by Patriots top corner, Stephon Gilmore, and he was not a factor in the game.
As he has been a couple times, Derrick Henry was the main reason the Titans won. Henry had another game with over 200 total yards and he was dominant throughout the game. The Titans last drive of the first half, starting at 2:16, was lead by Derrick Henry and he gained all 75 yards. Henry ended the drive with a touchdown and that caused the Patriots to completely sell out to stop the run in the second half. Henry turned seemingly broken plays into 5+ yard gains which contributed to his fantastic 1st half. Henry has become the best running back in the NFL and as Coach Mike Vrabel said in his post game press conference, "When you can run it and the other team knows you are going to run it, that says a lot about your game."
Defensively, the Titans had an alright game and improved in the second half. Rashaan Evans and Kenny Vaccaro both stood out to me and they both had fantastic performances. Evans seemed to be on the end of every run and he was crucial to the Titans run defense. Vaccaro played well in coverage and made many notable hits. Vaccaro also broke up a possibly dangerous pass and defended screen passes well. The defense had a lot of trouble containing running backs, especially in the passing game. Three running backs caught multiple passes and those passes propelled the Patriots offense.
It was clear that the Titans defense made it a priority to stop WR Julian Edelman. Edelman had just 3 receptions for 30 yards though he had a 5 yard rushing touchdown. The pass rush was almost non existent for most of the game and that contributed to a few big plays. One of the plays was a ~40 yard pass to Ben Watson where Tom Brady had far too much time in the pocket. The play was called back due to a penalty but it was a result of poor pressure. DaQuan Jones played a good game as did a few defensive lineman despite getting minimal pressure on Tom Brady. Next week, it will be much more important to get pressure on the quarterback and it will be much more difficult.
Next week, the Titans play the NFL MVP, Lamar Jackson, and the Baltimore Ravens. This game will be the biggest test of Titans season and it will be extremely difficult both offensively and defensively. Containing Lamar Jackson will be the Titans' biggest challenge and I am not sure how they will do it.
The divisional matchup against the Ravens will come down to stopping Lamar Jackson and the Ravens dominant running game. The Ravens rank first in almost all offensive categories but they are also good defensively. The Ravens have a very strong secondary and the will probably do a good job of containing AJ Brown and other receivers.
This is a great win for the Titans but next week's matchup will be even more difficult. The Titans did not play the greatest game but ultimately won the game which is all that matters.