When the eerie Foxborough fog lifted, it became clear that New England’s reign atop the NFL was ending.
Derrick Henry ensured that with the kind of dominating playoff performance usually reserved for Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Henry rushed for 182 yards and a touchdown while Tennessee’s defence stymied Brady and perhaps ended his championship-filled New England career with a 20-13 wild-card victory Saturday night.
Brady vows to be back on an NFL field next season, but his contract with the Patriots is done.
“I love the Patriots,” the 42-year Brady said, adding about leaving the game after 20 seasons: “I would say it’s pretty unlikely, hopefully unlikely. I love playing football. I don’t know what it looks like moving forward.”
Doing the most moving forward Saturday night was Henry, who had a total of 184 yards rushing in two playoff games two years ago. He nearly got that against the league’s top-ranked defence in boosting the Titans (10-7) into the divisional round at No. 1 seed Baltimore.
“It’s a great win against a great team in a hostile environment,” Henry said on his 26th birthday.
“Credit to my team. I’m just happy we were able to advance.
“We were just locked in. That was our mindset, just coming in here doing what we needed to do in all three phases, stay locked in no matter what happens in the game, and I feel like we did that.” For sure.
As for this defeat, the Patriots’ fourth as a wild card, Brady noted: “They kind of stopped us in the first half and the second half and we couldn’t get the job done.”
There had been no scoring in the second half when All-Pro Brett Kern’s 58-yard punt that took up 10 of the final 25 seconds rolled down at the New England 1. Brady then was picked by former Patriot Logan Ryan for a 9-yard touchdown to finish off the Patriots (12-5), who at one point were 8-0.
A big defensive block by the Titans on their own one yard line set up the possibility of a shock. It was the 13th time the Patriots had first-and-goal at the 1 in a playoff game in the Brady era and the first time they failed to get a TD on the drive.
Titans QB Ryan Tannehill led the NFL with a career-best 117.5 passer rating and by averaging 9.6 yards per pass attempt. But he didn’t do a whole lot Saturday night in his first post-season game: 8 of 15 for 72 yards.
Tannehill’s passing yards were the fewest for a starter since the Ravens’ Joe Flacco had 34 in a wild-card win against the Patriots 10 years ago. Tannehill now has five victories over Brady.
In Houston, the Texans beat the Buffalo Bills 22-19 in a game that went to overtime. Deshaun Watson got away from a would-be sack and completed a pass that set up the winning field goal. It was a stunning turnaround for Houston, who had trailed by 10 points in the second half.
“We never quit,” Watson said. “We’re going to keep fighting.”.
The Minnesota Vikings stunned the Saints in overtime in the NFC wild-card playoff game at the Superdome last night with a 26-20 victory. Quarterback Kirk Cousins set up the game-winning score when he connected with Adam Thielen to leave the Vikings on the goal line.
Minnestoa sealed the win with a four -yard touchdown toss to Kyle Rudolph and face a NFC divisional-round clash next Saturday at the San Francisco 49ers.