The New England Patriots built off their 21-7 halftime lead over the Tennessee Titans and rolled to a 35-14 victory in the divisional round. The Patriots will face the winner of Sunday;s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars.
The second half of the game was relatively quiet, with the Patriots offense simply enforcing their will upon the Titans defense. Rob Gronkowski grabbed a 4-yard touchdown pass, but the obvious sign the game was over was when 5th string running back Brandon Bolden scored on a 2-yard touchdown run.
By popular request: you can fit seven Brandon Boldens in that hole pic.twitter.com/WjS4YGjY3V— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) January 14, 2018
Dion Lewis finished the day with 141 yards from scrimmage. Danny Amendola chipped in 112, while Gronkowski added 81 and a touchdown. Brandin Cooks was quiet with 32 yards, but the Titans dedicated a lot of their resources to stopping the big plays, which is why Amendola and Lewis were so productive.
James White had 40 yards from scrimmage and 2 touchdowns, Bolden had 27 yards and a touchdown, and Chris Hogan rounded out the offense with a 4-yard touchdown grab in the first half.
The Patriots defense stifled the Tennessee offense in the second half, with the Titans going three-and-out on their first three drives for a total of -15 yards. That is not a typo. The Titans averaged negative five yards per drive to start the second half.
The defensive front seven racked up eight sacks, with Deatrich Wise and Geneo Grissom collecting two, and Marquis Flowers, Trey Flowers, Adam Butler, and Ricky Jean Francois all having one.
New England’s defense was able to generate pressure thanks to great coverage down the field, with special praise for Stephon Gilmore (2 passes defended) and Eric Rowe (great open field tackling). Malcolm Butler was surprisingly bad upon initial viewing, though, and Mariota picked on him during their final scoring drive; both touchdowns were with Butler in coverage.
The Patriots drained nearly seven minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter, capped off with the Gronkowski touchdown, and the final ten minutes of the game was simply garbage time.
New England is on to the AFC Championship Game. They will find out their opponent on Sunday.