Last Saturday, the Titans executed a thrilling comeback in Kansas City that turned an 18-point deficit into a 22-21 wild card victory. Marcus Mariota completed a strike to Eric Decker with 6:06 remaining in the fourth quarter and the defense held to seal the win. Earlier in the second half, Mariota made an incredible scoring play by catching his own pass that had been batted at the line of scrimmage for a touchdown. Titans Offensive Coordinator Terry Robiskie said on Wednesday afternoon that the only other quarterback he had seen complete a touchdown pass to himself was Super Bowl Champion Brad Johnson, so the Mariota-to-Mariota connection is a rare feat indeed.
This Saturday, the Titans travel to Foxborough, Massachusetts the home of the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. The Patriots were off last week after clinching the #1 seed in the AFC, but there was still news out of the Northeast. ESPN’s Seth Wickersham released an interesting piece about the future of the franchise after this postseason run that received an incredible fan response and required the team to release a statement saying that everything was fine within the organization. Regardless of outside noise, the Patriots will be focused heading into a home showdown with the Titans as they try to make it back to yet another Super Bowl.
The last time these two teams met in the postseason came during the playoffs 14 years ago. The Patriots held on for a close, hard-fought 17-14 win at Gillette Stadium, before beating the Colts on their way to defeating Carolina in Super Bowl XXXVIII. That was the second of the now five Super Bowl victories for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick together in New England.
On the field this season, the Patriots offense has put together yet another fantastic season. Tom Brady led the league with 4,577 yards passing and the Patriots led the league with 394.2 yards per game. The Titans ranked 25th against the pass in the regular season, but they did a solid job of preventing the Kansas City passing game outside of Travis Kelce before his injury. Pressuring Brady and winning one-on-ones on the outside will be pivotal if the Titans defense is going to have success against the New England offense and get them off the field. Former Patriot Logan Ryan and All-Pro Kevin Byard will need to continue their excellent play in the back end to stop Brandin Cooks and Rob Gronkowski from having big nights against the Titans through the air.
Offensively, the recipe for success was laid out last week. Heisman Trophy Winner Derrick Henry rushed for 156 yards and averaged 6.8 yards per carry at Arrowhead Stadium. Henry’s monster game included a 35-yard touchdown run that helped the Titans close the gap and eventually beat the Chiefs. Demarco Murray has been ruled out, so a steady diet of Henry runs, plus Marcus Mariota quarterback runs will be essential for the Titans to move the ball and control time of possession. Mariota compiled 251 total yards last week and he will need another clutch performance this week going up against one of the best to ever do it at the quarterback position in Tom Brady.
Listen to Titans Radio and 104.5 the Zone all week for coverage of the Titans preparation for this divisional round clash. Titans Countdown is on the air live from Foxborough at 6 PM central time immediately followed by complete coverage of Titans vs. Patriots at 7:15 PM central