David Butler II/USA Today Sports

Patriots 35, Titans 14: New England wins in rout to advance to 7th straight AFC title game

Ryan Hannable
January 13, 2018 - 11:39 pm

FOXBORO — It took two drives, but once the Patriots got rolling there was no stopping them. 

After the Titans scored the first points of the game, the Patriots scored the next 35 and ran away with a 35-14 win. Tennessee scored its second touchdown with less than two minutes remaining.

Tom Brady led the way for the Patriots, as he went 35-for-53 passing with 337 yards and three touchdowns. He threw three touchdowns for the 10th time in the playoffs, which is a new NFL record. He was previously tied with Joe Montana.

New England will host the AFC title game next Sunday against either the Jaguars or Steelers.

Here are 10 quick observations from the game.

1. The Patriots offense didn’t get off to the best of starts on the first two drives of the game, as both went six plays and resulted in punts. That changed quickly as the Patriots scored touchdowns on their next three possessions, and a major reason why was the running backs got involved after not being targeted at all on the first two drives.

2. Tennessee came into the game ranked last in the NFL when it came to covering running backs and it showed. The Patriots running backs caught 13 passes on 17 targets for 108 yards and a touchdown. When targeting Dion Lewis, Brady was 9-for-10 for 79 yards.

3. Brady had his best game in a long time. The 40-year-old seemed calm almost the entire way in the pocket and relied heavily on short passes, as he rarely took shots down the field. This was a major emphasis in the game plan, as the Titans defense has struggled with tight ends and running backs all year. Also, give Brady a lot of credit for the work he did at the line of scrimmage checking in and out of plays. He continued his dominance against Dick LeBeau defenses.

4. The Patriots defense did a great job containing Titans running back Derrick Henry. The Alabama product finished with 28 yards on 12 carries. On the first few drives the Patriots struggled with containment, but their in-game adjustments were key in turning things around as it wasn’t an issue the rest of the way. Henry's longest run was four yards.

5. New England did catch two huge breaks in the first half. With the game tied at seven, the Titans appeared to pick up a first down, but Eric Decker was called for offensive pass interference on a call that went the Patriots’ way. They got the ball at midfield following a punt and then scored to go up 14-7. Later in the half, the Patriots were backed up in their own end and punting, but the Titans jumped offsides giving New England a first down. It eventually capped a 16-play drive with a touchdown.

6. Not only did the defense do a good job against the run, but it did a good job getting after Marcus Mariota. The unit finished with eight sacks, which is a new franchise record in the postseason. Deatrich Wise and Geneo Grissom led the way with two, while Marquis Flowers, Trey Flowers, Ricky Jean Francois and Adam Butler all had one. This is big heading into the AFC title game, giving the front-seven confidence.

7. Although Chris Hogan didn’t have a huge day receiving, he made his presence felt in a bigger way in the blocking game. Hogan is one of the better blockers on the team and he delivered a thunderous hit on Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard to spring Lewis for a few extra yards on a play in the first half.

8. Danny Amendola seemingly comes alive in the playoffs. Amendola caught 11 passes on 13 targets for 112 yards. The 11 catches were a season-high and it was also his first career 100-yard receiving game. His 11 catches were also his most as a member of the Patriots. No matter what happens in the regular season, the receiver seems to take his game up a level when it matters most.

9. Three Patriots were injured in the game. Devin McCourty injured his right knee trying to tackle Mariota in the first half, but didn't miss any time. LaAdrian Waddle injured his knee and was deemed questionable, but didn't return. Cameron Fleming replaced him at right tackle. This will be something to watch over the course of the week. Lastly, No. 4 cornerback and core special-teamer Jonathan Jones was injured in the closing minutes. It looked to be an ankle/foot injury.

10. The Patriots will play in their seventh straight AFC title game next Sunday at 3:05 p.m. at Gillette Stadium. They will host the winner of the Pittsburgh-Jacksonville game Sunday afternoon, which will be played at Heinz Field. New England beat Pittsburgh in Week 15 on the road, but did not play Jacksonville this season.

Since 2001, the Patriots are 107-2 when leading at halftime at home.

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