The Patriots dominated the Titans Saturday night, putting up 21 points in the second quarter, in a 35-14 victory in the Divisional Round. They will play the winner of the Steelers and Jaguars in the AFC Championship game next Sunday in Foxborough.
Here are three things we learned Saturday night.
Take away the strength
The Patriots’ calling card under Bill Belichick has been their ability to take away a team’s strength. A week after Titans back Derrick Henry shredded the Chiefs, the Pats’ defense gave up just 28 yards on 12 carries to Tennessee’s big back. Henry’s “long” run on the night was a four-yard jaunt. The Pats clearly let Marcus Mariota try to beat them and while Mariota had his moments, the game was never in doubt.
The safest bet in sports on Saturday was Tom Brady lighting up the Titans defense on the heels of an ESPN article which painted him in a poor light. Brady responded with a 337-yard passing outing, completing 35-of-53 passes with three touchdowns and zero picks. He finished the game with a 102.5 passer rating.
Danny Amendola has been a mostly forgotten player for the Pats this season, but he played the Julian Edelman/Wes Welker role to perfection Saturday night. Going into the game, we said that it was imperative that a receiver not named Rob Gronkowski or Brandin Cooks came up big. Amendola was the guy – catching 11 balls for 112 yards.