The Patriots season came to an unceremonious end Saturday night, as Derrick Henry rushed for 182 yards on 34 carries to help power the Titans past New England, 20-13.
It was the first time New England lost on wild-card weekend since 2009.
Henry was dominant against the Patriots, hammering the New England offense all night long. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was 8-for-15 for 72 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Tom Brady -- who enters the offseason without a contract -- finished 20-for-37 for 209 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions, one of which came from ex-teammate Logan Ryan that fundamentally ended the night.
The Patriots took a 13-7 lead in the second on a Nick Folk field goal and 5-yard rushing touchdown from Julian Edelman.
But New England struggled from that point on, as a late touchdown from Tennessee at the end of the first half game the Titans a 14-13 lead. The teams were held scoreless almost the rest of the way until Ryan’s pick-six with less than a minute to go ended the scoring.
11:21 p.m.: So the pick-six gives Tennessee a 20-13 lead. The Patriots will get the ball on the kickoff, but...
11:15 p.m.: Are we heading for one last Brady moment here? The Patriots will get the ball back here. Not a lot of time, but...
11:11 p.m.: First down, Derrick Henry. Titans keep moving the ball. Two minutes left.
11:06 p.m.: If you’re the Patriots, you need some late-game magic here. Tennessee has the ball, the lead, and Derrick Henry. It’s 14-13 Titans with just over three minutes to go.
11:01 p.m.: That was a fascinating coaching back-and-forth there between Belichick and Vrabel. Vrabel milked a ton of time off the clock there before the punt after taking that delay of game penalty -- almost two minutes. Smart play. On another point, Kern has really done an excellent job tilting the field in Tennessee’s favor.
10:56 p.m.: Vrabel should go for it here. Can’t coach scared against the Patriots in this instance. Let’s see what happens.
10:53 p.m.: One of the things we worried about at the start of the evening was the depth of New England’s cornerbacks with Jason McCourty out. Gilmore is in the blue tent after that head-to-head collision with Dion Lewis and McCourty is inactive. Not an ideal situation for the Patriots.
10:48 p.m.: Three offensive possessions, three punts for the Patriots here in the second half.
10:44 p.m.: Don’t want to jinx things, but this officiating crew has done well tonight. We’re setting a low bar for success, but compared to the Houston-Buffalo game, it’s been a good night for the zebras.
10:42 p.m.: Duron Harmon with a HUGE fourth-quarter interception. First turnover for either siude tonight. Patriots offense has to take advantage.
10:35 p.m.: Looking more and more like a battle of field position here down the stretch, as New England is forced to punt it away from just about midfield. Would have been good if Bailey could have dropped that one inside the 10, but it ended up going into the end zone for a touchback. Every blade of grass matters every week, but in this instance, it's especiually true.
10:24 p.m.: Again, wins on first and second down gets Tennessee into passing situations. Good stand by the defense -- aside from that penalty on Jonathan Jones -- gives the ball back to the offense. There needs to really start to be a a sense of urgency here, especially with a four-minute offensive monster on the other sideline in Henry. It’s 14-13 with 5:31 left in the third quarter.
10:19 p.m.: That penalty on Mason ... that was just a killer. It wiped out the big third-down pass play to Watson, one that would have gotten the Patriots into Tennessee territory. (It was the first flag of the night on New England.) The defense is going to have to figure out a way to slow down Henry again here. The Titans are up 14-13 with 8:02 left in the third quarter.
10:12 p.m.: THAT is a formula for success for New England. A win on first and second down that sets up third and long. A passing down in any context is an automatixc advantage for the Patriots. Then, New England forces the punt. Very good start to the third quarter for the defense. Now, we’ll see if the offense can capitalize.
9:56 p.m.: The Titans are up 14-13 at the end of the second quarter. A few thoughts:
Lots of positives in the early going for the Patriots, but it all comes down to this.....Derrick Henry is a beast. The Tennessee back has run for 106 yards on 14 carries. If he continues to run like he did for the bulk of the first half, it’s going to be a rockfight the rest of the way. The Titans have never lost when he’s run for 100 yards.
The execution and play-calling at the end of the first half against the Bills, Dolphins, and now, the Titans, has been an issue. It felt like the Patriots had a real chance to put this one away near the middle of the second quarter. The late score from Tennessee changed the complexion of the game.
Brady has been pretty good -- he’s 14-for-22 for 149 yards. Michel has 10 carries for 50 yards. White has three catches for 46 yards. That being said, those stalled drives that ended with field goals could come back to haunt them.
Really, the biggest thing here is getting Tennessee out of its ground game. You have to make them throw the ball. If the Titans can keep it close and keep running the ball, they have a real shot at winning this one.
9:48 p.m.: Derrick Henry has been trenendous for the Titans here in the first half -- he just powered Tennessee to a late first-half score, making it 14-13. The big fella had all 75 yards on that drive.
Derrick Henry has 13 carries for 102 yds in the first half. Only 4 players have rushed for 100 yards in a playoff game against Bill Belichick's Patriots: Marshawn Lynch (Super Bowl XLIX), Justin Forsett (2014 Divisional) Ray Rice (2009 Wild Card),... https://t.co/ufXV9m5qtk— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) January 5, 2020
9:34 p.m.: Another stall for the offense in the shadow of the Tennessee end zone leaves the Patriots with no choice but to kick a field goal. It’s 13-7 with just over two minutes left in the half, and while it’s good to celebrate a narrow lead, the fact remains New England missed out on a pair of touchdowns and a chance to really put a stamp on the game. You still have to like the Patriots’ chances, but with the margin for error so slim, you’d hate to see those sorts of things come back to haunt them.
Patriots have forced two straight three-and-outs after giving up the TD. Forcing the Titans into a drop-back passing game, which isn't their forte— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) January 5, 2020
9:14 p.m.: The Patriots have a lead, but the blocking hasn’t been great. It could be the Titans having figured something out (they look like they have Roberts a bit befuddled, for what it’s worth), or lack of technique or whatever. But by and large, the blocking has been a little slipshod here in the first half.
9:07 p.m.: Good sequence there for the Patriots, as they scored on the Edelman play and then forced the 3-and-out after Adam Butler featured some nice disruption. One thing ... this is starting to feel a bit like a big James White game. He’s got 43 yards from scrimmage here in the first quarter-plus, and looks to be a loose in this one so far.
9:04 p.m.: Nice answer there for New England, as the Patriots take 10 plays and go 75 yards for their first touchdown of the night, a little end-around to Edelman that makes it 10-7 with 14:57 left in the first half.
9:00 p.m.: One quarter in the books. Tennessee is up 7-3.
Brady: 6-10, 83 yards
Michel: 4 carries, 31 yards
Watson: 2 catches, 32 yards.
New England is driving for what could be a go-ahead score.
8:55 p.m.: One of the things that’s important to note is that while Roberts is fun to watch at fullback, he swings and misses far too consistently to have him back there for more than 25-plus snaps per game. Just happened on that last carry. We’re setting the bar for Roberts awfully high based on his splash plays -- which have been very impressive -- but it’s the sort of thing you probably wouldn’t get with James Develin in there.
8:48 p.m.: The Titans answer with a touchdown -- Tannehill to Firkser. Not a leap to suggest that Tennessee recognized the fact that Chung had just left the game the play before after being shaken up and took advantage. Smart play by a savvy quarterback. The Titans put the capper on a nice drive, and it’s 7-3 with 5:39 to go in the first quarter. It was a touchdown pass that got Tennessee on the board, but it was the running game that set them up -- Henry was dominant with seven carries for 49 yards.
8:43 p.m.: Like the Bills and Dolphins before them, the Titans have started this one boldly, right down to a little fakery. I’ll say this about Tennessee -- the Titans don’t appear to be cowed by the atmosphere. We’ll see how it all plays out, but it’s a good start for Tennessee. Sharp opening drive so far.
8:42 p.m.: Patriots offensive starters: Brady, White, Edelman, Dorsett, Sanu, Harry, Wynn, Thuney, Karras, Mason, Cannon.
Defensive starters: Wise, Shelton, Guy, Simon, Van Noy, Hightower, Roberts, Jackson, Gilmore, D. McCourty, Chung.
8:34 p.m.: Odd third-down play call there on that pass they couldn’t convert, but a couple of nice plays -- including big third-down gains from James White and Ben Watson -- kept the drive alive for a 36-yarder from Nick Folk to make it 3-0 with 12:37 to go in the first quarter. Good start for New England, but the Pats can’t afford a lot of stalls in Tennessee territory tonight.
8:23 p.m.: Titans win the toss and defer. Pats will get the ball first. Time for the foosball.
8:13 p.m.: Texans pull out 22-19 win in overtime. Going to be hard to top that one, at least when it comes to drama. Just over 10 minutes from kickoff in Foxborough.
Kickoff of Patriots-Titans pushed back to 8:25 p.m. so we can all witness the game from the end of the world to its spectacular conclusion.— Nora Princiotti (@NoraPrinciotti) January 5, 2020
7:52 p.m.: The Patriots are going to win this one. I don’t think it’s going to be a blowout, but New England should win this game. Ryan Tannehill has played very well over the course of the second half of the season, which is important. But at the same time, the second half of the Tennessee schedule has been pillowy-soft. That’s not to say you should be penalized for playing the slate -- the truth is you could say the same thing about the New England defense over the first half of the year when it fattened up against relatively easy opponents. But because this game is in Foxborough, and the Patriots’ have such an edge when it comes to playoff football, New England gets a narrow edge. Not much, but a narrow edge. Derrick Henry scares the heck out of everyone, and New England gets at least one big play from special teams and/or the defense. I’ll say Patriots 24, Titans 17.
7:44 p.m.: The Texans and the Bills are headed for overtime, as Needham’s own Stephen Hauschka delivers in the clutch to tie the game at 19.
Gillette Stadium crowd cheers loudly for the Bills' successful FG. AFC East solidarity— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) January 5, 2020
Tom Brady's weapons vs. Titans:— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) January 4, 2020
WR: Edelman, Sanu, Harry, Dorsett, Meyers
RB: Michel, White, Burkhead, Bolden
TE: Watson, LaCosse
Fifth straight game with this lineup. Will it be enough?
6:58 p.m.: The weather is going to be messy for this one -- according to multiple reports, temps are going to be in the 40s, but there’s a good chance of precipitation throughout the evening, which could make for a sloppy game. These conditions shouldn’t be too impactful, but sure hands on special teams will be particularly important given the moisture in the air. Could we see Julian Edelman get some reps as a punt returner if things get dicey at some point in the evening?
6:51 p.m.: Byron Cowart, Jason McCourty, Cody Kessler, Ryan Izzo, Damien Harris, Korey Cunningham, and Jermaine Eluemunor are the inactives for New England this evening. As has been the case for most of the year, no real surprises -- Cowart, Kessler, Izzo, Harris, Cunningham, and Eluemunor have been healthy scratches for the bulk of the 2019 season.
The biggest news here is the fact that McCourty will be shut down tonight. The veteran has been battling a groin injury over much of the second half of the season, and so it’s not a big surprise. (Cornerback is also arguably one of the deepest positions on the team.) I’d expect the likes of rookie Joejuan Williams to get more snaps in his absence.
Again, given his health lately, it’s not a big surprise, but at the same time, not having a smart and savvy vet like McCourty out there in a playoff game means New England’s cornerback depth bears watching, particularly if there’s an injury.
6:32 p.m.: From a betting perspective, this game has held pretty steady over the course of the week, with the Patriots anywhere between -4 and -5. As of today, the line was at -4.5 or below pretty much across the board. Basically, New England ends up winning this thing, but Tennessee makes it interesting for a large portion of the evening. The best bet of the night, from our pals at Odds Shark is this one regarding the postgame handshake between Belichick and Vrabel.
6:23 p.m.: Let’s throw a couple of odds and ends your way while waiting to see what sort of mistake the referees in the Houston-Buffalo make next. ... John Hussey is going to be the official for tonight’s game. This will be his second New England game since the start of the 2019 season -- he was the referee for the Patriots win over the Bills in December. ... Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, and Tracy Wolfson will be on the call for CBS. It’ll be their fourth New England game of the year -- the Pats are 2-1 with Nantz/Romo in the booth. Overall, since start of ’17 season (including the playoffs), New England is 15-3 with them at the mic.
5:45 p.m.: Good evening, and welcome back to football! We have the start of the postseason for the Patriots and Titans tonight from Gillette Stadium. There will be the usual pregame hijinks -- weather forecasts (spoiler alert: wet and cold), latest betting updates, inactive analysis (at roughly 7 p.m.), news from Gillette, and plenty of pregame insight between now and kickoff. We’ll start with a our reading list: