It may not have been pretty at all time, but at the end of the day the New England Patriots were still able to get the job done in Week 12. Going up against the AFC’s top seed, the 8-3 Tennessee Titans, they celebrated a 36-13 victory that was not as lopsided as the final score made it look like.
The Titans, despite missing some core players on both sides of the ball, fought tooth and nails to keep the game close. At the end of the day, however, the Patriots made enough plays in all three phases to run away with the contest.
Accordingly, head coach Bill Belichick appeared to be quite happy with what his men showed on Sunday.
“Proud of the way our guys stepped up,” he said during his postgame press conference. “We missed some opportunities in the game, but we were going up against a good team, so that’s going to happen. In the end, we were able to not turn the ball over, take the ball away, make two big fourth down stops — one on the goal line and one there with about six minutes to go in the game.”
Safety Devin McCourty shared similar thoughts after the contest.
“Just a gritty win,” he said. “I think Tennessee is very similar to us. They don’t care who’s not playing for them; they have a style of play; they’re tough; they’re going to fight you for everything. Obviously with Vrabel being there, it’s just a very similar team how we’re built. I think that’s how the game played out — just a battle.”
The game against Tennessee was a one-score affair for much of the afternoon, with New England only starting to pull away following a 41-yard catch-and-run touchdown by wide receiver Kendrick Bourne in the third quarter. Up until that point, the Titans remained in striking distance.
When the plays had to be made, however, the Patriots were able to make them. As a result, they are now 8-4 and winners of six straight games.
“It was a good all-around effort,” Belichick said. “Left some plays out there, certainly some things we could have done better, but we’ll take it and move on.”
New England will not have plenty of time to enjoy its win against the Titans: a pivotal AFC East battle with the Buffalo Bills awaits next Monday night.