Buck Reising, Tennessee Titans reporter and host of Tackling Music City, provides three observations from the team’s Week 10 34-10 victory over the New England Patriots.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — What are we to make of the 2018 Tennessee Titans? Tennessee has now bested both of the teams that participated in Super Bowl LII at Nissan Stadium, pulling out this latest improbable victory with ease. Here are three things that stood out on Sunday:
- Complimentary Football…No, Seriously
- This truly was a spectacular effort in “all three phases.” Wide receiver Darius Jennings opened up the game with a 58-yard kickoff return to set up Marcus Mariota and the offense up at the New England 40 for their first opening scoring drive of the 2018 season. Dean Pees’ group consistently flustered Tom Brady and held true to the brand of football that had made them the toughest NFL defense to score on coming into Week 10. Matt LaFleur schemed players wide open and deployed Tennessee’s offensive weaponry in the most effective manner to date.
- “I think that’s the only way that you can win against some teams, and especially teams like the New England Patriots,” said coach Mike Vrabel of his team’s efforts. “It’s a long game. I felt like we were out there for two and a half hours and there were eight minutes left in the second quarter. These are long games. There’s a lot of opportunity for teams to come back. We stayed aggressive, we stayed very complimentary, great job on third down, getting some stops, some huge stops defensively. The offense stayed aggressive I felt like up until I pulled the plug on them a little bit and said, ‘Hey, let’s just get this thing down here and let’s just grind it out and kill some clock.'”
- Defensively, the Titans allowed Brady’s offense to convert only three of their 15 third down attempts (20%) and 284 net yards total. LaFleur’s offense contributed it’s highest scoring outing of the year and controlled the clock expertly to keep the Patriots attack from getting additional.
- Matt LaFleur = World Class Troll
- Everyone knows about the “Philly Special” from last season’s Super Bowl; the trick play that saw quarterback Nick Foles catch a touchdown pass from tight end Trey Burton in an eventual Eagles win. Brady and Bill Belichick took notes from that experience and ran a double reverse that saw wide receiver Julian Edelman find the 41-year-old passer for a stumbling six yard gain of third-and-seven at the start of the fourth quarter.
- In what can only be described as a trolling master class, LaFleur dialed up a similar reverse pass on first-and-10 from the Tennessee 42 that (emergency quarterback) Jennings lobbed up left-handed to Mariota who caught it for a gain of 21.
- “Just catch it,” Mariota joked when asked about what was going through his mind on the play. “Darius did a great job of giving me an opportunity and we did a good job of executing.
- “I’m not even going to go there,” Mariota chuckled when asked if he was a better receiver than Brady.
- “Hell Yeah, It’s Personal”
- Patriots-Titans comparisons were inescapable heading into the Week 10 match-up between the two. Vrabel played for them, general manager Jon Robinson spent much of his career with them, corners Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan , running back Dion Lewis and guard Josh Kline all landed in Nashville after prior stints in New England and, of course, there was last year’s Super Bowl…
- Lewis and Butler came to Tennessee looking to be valued. Robinson rewarded them for their past production with contracts of four years, $19.8M and five years, $61.25M respectively. Butler’s comments did not convey any particular resentment or satisfaction in the victory over his former employer who let him walk, but Lewis was a tad more vocal.
- “Hell yeah, it’s personal,” said Lewis of the win. “That’s what happens when you go cheap. You get your ass kicked.”