Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Titans' Monday night embarrassment shows Patriots have lost to some really, really bad teams this year

Alex Reimer
November 27, 2018 - 1:10 pm

It is amazing Mike Vrabel and the Titans were able to devise a game plan that tormented Tom Brady and left the Patriots listless. They looked like a high school squad in their 34-17 loss to the Texans Monday night, and Vrabel was the one leading the way decked out in his cheesy letterman jacket –– figuratively speaking, of course.

Vrabel gained infamy last month when he decided to go for two in the closing seconds against the Chargers in London, with the Titans down by one point. Tennessee missed the attempt, and was handed the loss instead of going to overtime.

Vrabel made a similarly boneheaded decision Monday, sending tight end Luke Stocker up the middle on 4th-and-1 from Houston’s three-yard line with 9:42 left in the second quarter. The play was predictably stuffed, setting the stage for Lamar Miller to bust out a 97-yard touchdown run seconds later.

The touchdown put the Texans up 21-10, which was insurmountable deficit for the Titans, considering they were insistent on only throwing two-yard screen passes to their running backs. Marcus Mariota should tell his offensive coordinator he does have a working right arm.

In addition to being lackadaisical defensively, the Titans got bullied on the offensive side of the ball. The Texans sacked Mariota six times, with J.J. Watt pulverizing the left side of the Titans' O-line. Tennessee had no answer, curiously putting tight end Jonnu Smith on Watt late in the second half, which allowed Christian Covington to record one of his 2.5 sacks. The matchup was so bad, even Jason Witten called out Vrabel and his staff for the mix up. 

The Titans' performance was on par with their loss to the Colts last week. The Titans have dropped two straight road games by an aggregate score of 72-27 since embarrassing the Patriots in Nashville Nov. 11. This behavior would be shocking, except the Jaguars and Lions are both terrible, too. Jacksonville has gone 1-8 since dominating the Patriots in Week 2, and the Lions have only won three games since their Week 3 triumph. (At least the Lions have kept their quarterback and offensive coordinator. The Jaguars made changes at both positions this week.)

With victories over the Chiefs, Texans and Bears –– plus a win over the Packers, which doesn’t look as impressive as it once did –– the Patriots have beaten some of the NFL’s best. But as we saw again Monday night, they have also lost to some of the league’s worst –– on the road, of course.

The takeaway is, the Patriots will basically be playing playoff games for the next five weeks. They are one game out of the No. 1 seed with the tiebreaker in-hand. Overtaking the Chiefs could likely mean the difference between another Super Bowl trip or premature postseason exit.