FOXBORO (CBS) — A disappointing season came to a disappointing end for the New England Patriots on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.
In a defensive battle, the Patriots’ underwhelming offense couldn’t make anything happen in a scoreless second half, as the Tennessee Titans entered Gillette Stadium and walked away with a 20-13 playoff victory.READ MORE: I-Team: High School Failure Rates In Massachusetts Jumped During Pandemic
Tom Brady completed 20 of his 37 passes for 209 yards, with no touchdowns and an interception in the final seconds. The Patriots’ offense failed to cash in with touchdowns on two of their three red zone trips. That made all the difference in the game, particularly the Patriots’ inability to find the end zone on three straight tries from the goal line in the second quarter.
Ryan Tannehill completed just eight of his 15 passes for 72 yards with an interception. But he delivered the two biggest passes of the game to tight end Anthony Firkser — a first-quarter touchdown and a fourth-quarter chain-mover.
Derrick Henry ran for a touchdown and over 100 yards in the first half and finished with 182 yards on 34 carries.
The stage was set in the final five minutes for a vintage Brady performance. Trailing by a single point, the Patriots took over at their own 11-yard line with 4:44 remaining in the fourth quarter and three timeouts to spare. Brady began the drive by hitting a wide-open James White, who caught the pass and scampered for a 20-yard gain. Two plays later, Brady had Julian Edelman for a first-down pickup, but Edelman dropped the pass.
On the resulting third-and-6, Brady threw wide to Phillip Dorsett, leading to a Patriots punt.
The Titans took over at their own 13-yard line and faced a third-and-8. With the home crowd reaching its loudest level of the night, Tannehill stood and delivered a strike to Anthony Frisker for a gain of 11 and a fresh set of downs. Henry broke an 11-yard run before the two-minute warning on the next play, essentially allowing Tennessee to drain the remaining time.
The Titans punted back to the Patriots in the final minute, with New England gaining possession at their own 1-yard line with just 15 seconds to play. Mohamed Sanu couldn’t handle a short pass, and Logan Ryan picked it off and ran it back for a touchdown to make the score look even worse for the home team.
The Patriots attempted a series of laterals on the final kickoff, but to no avail.
The game began with a Patriots scoring drive, after the Titans elected to defer upon winning the opening coin toss. Brady connected with a tightly covered Ben Watson for 21 yards on a third-and-10, before James White picked up 29 yards on a screen pass to the left side.
— NFL (@NFL) January 5, 2020
A trick play then followed, with Brady handing to Rex Burkhead and Burkhead pitching the ball back to Brady. The quarterback had nowhere to throw though, and the Patriots ended up settling for a Nick Folk field goal to take an early 3-0 lead.
The Titans responded with a thorough touchdown drive to take a 7-3 lead. It was a 12-play, 75-yard drive by the visiting team that saw Derrick Henry gain 49 yards on seven carries, a Marcus Mariota pass out of a heavy set, and a Ryan Tannehill 12-yard touchdown pass to tight end Anthony Firkser, who beat Terrence Brooks in coverage one snap after Patrick Chung departed due to injury.
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— NFL (@NFL) January 5, 2020
Undeterred, the Patriots answered with a touchdown drive of their own, driving 75 yards on 10 plays. Sony Michel broke a 25-yard run after Mohamed Sanu made a 14-yard catch over the middle, before Brady hit Watson for an 11-yard gain. James White ran for 14 yards on a third-and-2 from the 21-yard line. On second-and-goal from the 5, Edelman took a jet sweep around the right side and ran in untouched for the touchdown, and the extra point gave New England a 10-3 lead early in the second quarter.
— NFL (@NFL) January 5, 2020
A 24-yard punt return by Sanu kick-started another Patriots scoring drive, with New England driving all the way down to the Tennessee 1-yard line. A 7-yard connection between Brady and N’Keal Harry on a third-and-6 kept the driving moving. But at the goal line, the Titans stopped the Patriots on three straight plays, forcing another settling for a field goal, giving them a 13-7 lead.
That lead was short-lived though, as the Titans rode Henry for a touchdown drive before halftime. Henry ran for 53 yards and a touchdown on five carries, and he also had a 22-yard reception on a screen pass to set up his 1-yard score, giving Tennessee a 14-13 lead before halftime.
Henry had 106 rushing yards and the 22 receiving yards before halftime.
Defense ruled the third quarter, with each team punting twice and neither team putting any points on the board. The offensive highlight came when Brady delivered a picture-perfect strike to Edelman to convert a third down and get the Patriots out of their own end of the field.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 5, 2020
The strong defense continued to start the fourth quarter, when Duron Harmon intercepted an ill-advised Tannehill pass to set the Patriots up near midfield. That drive, though, didn’t go far, ending with a Jake Bailey punt into the end zone.
The Titans were threatening with another potential scoring drive, getting the ball across midfield with less than six minutes to play, but Tannehill fumbled a shotgun snap on a third-and-2, leading to a Tennessee punt.MORE NEWS: 'I Don't Want To Be A Vigilante': Mikayla Miller's Mother Demands Justice At Hopkinton Rally
The loss now kicks off an offseason of uncertainty, as the Patriots carry a number of key players who will become free agents this offseason, the most significant being Tom Brady.