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By now, Patriots fans have heard the not-so-good news: Sunday’s loss to the Miami Dolphins means New England slides to the No. 3 spot in the AFC playoffs and will be forced to play on Wild Card Weekend for the first time in 10 years.
The opponent that day in 2010 was the Baltimore Ravens, who came into Gillette Stadium and ran for 234 yards in a 33-14 pasting of the Patriots. Ray Rice led the way, rushing for 159 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries, good for a 7.2-yard average.
This year’s edition of the Patriots has been vulnerable against the run, which is not reassuring as they get ready for Tennessee. The 9-7 Titans finished second in the AFC South to clinch the sixth and final spot in the AFC playoffs. They did so in large part by having the NFL’s third-best rushing attack. Their 2,223 yards trailed only the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.
Here’s a look at some of the key figures for the Titans:
Coach Mike Vrabel
Vrabel was a key cog in the Patriots’ first three Super Bowl victories, starring as a linebacker but also showing versatility as a tight end.
In two seasons as coach with the Titans, he is 18-14, and will be making his postseason coaching debut. Against the Patriots last season, Vrabel got the better of his former organization, leading the Titans to a 34-10 win, and, in the process, making Tom Brady look very old.
RB Derrick Henry
The 2015 Heisman Trophy winner for Alabama is having his best NFL season, establishing career highs for rushing attempts (303), yards (1,540), average (5.1), and touchdowns (16) to win this year’s rushing crown.
With the Titans needing a win Sunday to ensure a playoff berth, Henry rushed for a season-high 211 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-14 win over Houston.
QB Ryan Tannehill
After seven seasons with the Dolphins, Tannehill was traded (along with a sixth-round pick) to the Titans in March for draft picks. He began the season as the backup, but took over the starting duties when Marcus Mariota struggled.
Tannehill has appeared in 12 games, making 10 starts in which the team has gone 7-3. He has thrown for 2,742 yards and 22 touchdowns, with just six interceptions, and was named an alternate for the Pro Bowl.
RB Dion Lewis
The former Patriot was the Titans’ second-leading rusher, gaining 209 yards on 54 carries. He also had 25 receptions for 164 yards and a touchdown.
WR A.J. Brown
After starring at Mississippi, Brown was selected by the Titans in the second round of the 2019 draft with the 51st pick, 19 picks after the Patriots selected N’Keal Harry. He has 1,051 receiving yards on just 52 receptions, good for a 20.2-yard average per catch, as well as eight touchdowns. He is in the conversation for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
WR Adam Humphries
The Patriots pursued Humphries last year in free agency, but the former Buccaneer agreed to a deal with Tennessee, citing Brady’s age as a key reason. He has 37 receptions for 374 yards and two touchdowns.
CB Logan Ryan
The former Patriot leads the Titans with 113 tackles. He also has four interceptions, second on the team to safety Kevin Byard. Both Ryan and Byard were chosen as Pro Bowl alternates.
Don’t look for another former Patriot, Malcolm Butler, at the other cornerback position. The hero of Super Bowl XLIX was placed on injured reserve with a broken wrist suffered in Week 9.
DE Jurrell Casey
The nine-year veteran has 51 career sacks. This season he has 44 tackles and five sacks and was named as an alternate for the Pro Bowl.
LB Harold Landry
The second-year linebacker starred at Boston College, racking up 160 tackles, 26 sacks, and 47.5 tackles for a loss. The Titans traded up in the 2018 draft to select him in the second round with the 41st pick. He leads the Tennessee defense with nine sacks.
Punter Brett Kern
We know how much value Patriots coach Bill Belichick puts on special teams. The Titans have a Pro Bowler in Kern, who has averaged 47.1 yards on 78 punts this season. Long snapper Beau Brinkley was chosen as an alternate for the Pro Bowl.
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