FOXBORO, Mass. (WPRI/AP) — With just seconds left on the clock, the Tennessee Titans picked off a throw from Tom Brady and returned it for a touchdown, putting the AFC Wild Card game out of reach for the New England Patriots.
The defending Super Bowl champions lost what was an extremely tight game against the Titans by a score of 20-13. The Titans now advance to the Divisional Round next weekend against the Baltimore Ravens.
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Now that the season is officially over, speculation began immediately if Tom Brady would be returning to the Patriots next year. For the first time in his career, the 42-year-old will be a free agent.
There was no scoring in the second half when All-Pro Brett Kern’s 58-yard punt that took up 10 seconds rolled down at the New England 1. Brady then was picked by former Patriot Logan Ryan for a 9-yard touchdown to finish off the Patriots (12-5), who at one point were 8-0.
The game’s first three possessions wound up as three long scoring drives. A 29-yard screen pass to James White set up Nick Folk’s 36-yard field goal, but Tennessee answered with a 75-yard march built around Henry. He had no role on the touchdown, Tannehill’s pass to a Harvard man, tight end Anthony Firkser that made it 7-3.
New England counterpunched with its own 75-yard drive, taking temporary control of the game by victimizing Tennessee’s defense on the outside. The Titans looked slow trying to protect the flanks as Sony Michel broke off a 25-yard run and White had a 14-yarder.
Julian Edelman finished it with the first rushing touchdown of his 11 pro seasons, a 5-yard dash to the unprotected left side of the Tennessee D.
New England appeared primed for another touchdown after Mohamed Sanu’s 14-yard punt return set up the Patriots at the Titans 47, and they steadily drove to first-and-goal at the 1.
All they got was Folk’s 21-yard field goal as three runs failed. It was the 13th time the Patriots had first-and-goal at the 1 in a playoff game in the Brady era and the first time they failed to get a TD on the drive.
Tannehill led the NFL with a career-best 117.5 passer rating and by averaging 9.6 yards per pass attempt. But he didn’t do a whole lot Saturday night in his first postseason game: 8 for 15 for 72 yards. His awful decision to put the ball up for grabs on the first play of the fourth quarter resulted in Duron Harmon’s interception.
But New England’s spotty attack stalled and never revived. That has not been unusual during the second half of the schedule.
Henry celebrated his 26th birthday by getting the most rushing yards against a Bill Belichick-coached Patriots team in the playoffs. He set an early tone by rushing for 49 of the Titans’ 75 yards on their opening touchdown drive. On the Titans’ second 75-yard TD march, all Henry did was gain every yard: 22 on a screen pass and 53 rushing, including a 1-yard dive into the end zone for a 14-13 halftime lead. Those were Tennessee’s first points in the final two minutes of the opening half since Week 8.
He led the NFL in rushing this season with 1,540 yards in 15 games, the fourth-most rushing yards in franchise history. Henry also ran for 16 TDs, second most in team history.
Titans: Linebacker Jayon Brown hurt his shoulder in the first half.
Patriots: Safety Patrick Chung left in the first quarter with an ankle issue.
Titans: Head to Baltimore in the divisional round.
Patriots: Head home early, failing to become the second team to make four straight Super Bowls. And wondering where Brady is headed.
Below is a timeline of how the game unfolded:
The Titans pick off a throw from Tom Brady, running it in for a touchdown. Score: 20-13 Tennessee
Neither team scored during the third quarter. Score:14-13 Tennessee
Titans took the lead with 35 seconds left in the half with Derrick Henry scoring a touchdown. Score: 14-13 Tennessee
Titans were able to stop a drive with just over two minutes left in the half, forcing the Patriots to settle for a field goal. Score: 13-7 New England
Just seconds into the second quarter, Julian Edelman made his way into the end zone, bringing the Patriots back to the lead. Score: 10-7 New England
The Patriots drew first blood with a field goal, but then with just over five minutes left in the first quarter, the Titans took the lead with a touchdown. Score: 7-3 Tennessee