Tom Brady was incredible after a weak final quarter of the regular season
Brady finished the game completing 35 of 53 passes (66.0%) for 337 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions for a passer rating of 102.5. This was his 19th career victory with 50 or more pass attempts, the most in NFL history. In fact, Drew Brees ranks second in NFL history with 19 games of 50+ attempts; he has a 4-15 record in those games.
Brady was crisp and made great decisions all night. His production would have been even greater if not for a few bad drops by his receivers. His performance really reinforces the idea that Brady was battling some injury late in the season that’s now fully healed.
Dion Lewis is a superstar
Lewis rushed for 61 yards on 15 carries (4.1 YPC) against a great Titans run defense and added an impressive 79 receiving yards, too. Lewis has 284 rushing yards, 143 receiving yards, and 4 touchdowns over his past three games (427 yards from scrimmage). He’s really making himself a lot of money and showing that he can carry the offense when his number is called.
Perhaps his role will decrease next week if Rex Burkhead is healthy enough to play, but Lewis has shown he’s the most dynamic player in the Patriots backfield.
Danny Amendola stepped up and will be crucial for the playoffs
Amendola reeled in 11 catches for 112 yards. He didn’t score, but he was essential for the Patriots offensive success. New England didn’t have a consistent intermediate receiving threat for much of the season with Julian Edelman out for the year, which forced Brady to either throw it deep to his receivers or check it down to his running backs. If Amendola is able to be the intermediate threat in the playoffs, then the Patriots offense will be unstoppable.
Amendola’s involvement also makes me wonder if they intentionally kept him on ice for the regular season so he would be as healthy as possible for the postseason. He was incredibly clutch.
The Patriots pass rush was fantastic...
Deatrich Wise and Geneo Grissom each had 2 sacks. Trey Flowers had a sack and 2 quarterback hits. Adam Butler, Ricky Jean Francois, and Marquis Flowers all had a sack, too. Other than the Titans lone scoring drive in the first half, the Patriots defensive front did an outstanding job of containing Marcus Mariota in the pocket and not allowing him to escape their clutches.
It felt like the Patriots were getting a sack on every Titans drive in the second half, which is a great sight to behold.
...So was four-fifths of the New England secondary
Stephon Gilmore was aces on the evening as he did not allow a single reception in coverage and managed to break up two passes in his direction. Other than allowing Delanie Walker to get a big 36-yard catch, Patrick Chung did an outstanding job limiting the Titans top receiver to just 49 yards on the day. Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon did a great job ensuring that no deep passes were completed for most of the day.
That said, Malcolm Butler really struggled. He gave up both touchdown passes to rookie Corey Davis and allowed 6 catches for 68 yards on the day, per Pro Football Focus. He’ll need to step up for the rest of the postseason.
New England dominated the field position battle all night
The Titans average drive started on their own 21.0-yard line. Ryan Allen and the punt coverage team and Stephen Gostkowski all did a great job setting the Titans back as often as possible.
The Patriots, on the other hand, started their average drive on the 32.8-yard line. That’s a huge 10-yard difference every time the Patriots offense had the ball and that’s over an entire field’s worth of hidden yardage in New England’s advantage. Special teams deserves serious applause for their work.