Titans 28 – Baltimore Ravens 12
Mea Culpa. I didn’t see it. Even after the Titans went into Foxboro and ran all over the Patriots, I figured it said more about Tom Brady’s advanced age and lack of weapons than a Titans team that has really turned a corner.
Seriously. The Titans are monsters, built of the same cloth as their coach, former Patriot linebacker Mike Vrabel. These Titans do one thing, and they do it exceptionally well. Frankly, I don’t think that anyone in the league can stop them from doing it. They’ve already faced two of the league’s top five defenses in the playoffs and manhandled them both. Derrick Henry has amassed 377 yards thus far in the postseason, more than twice the second-leading rusher (Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson, BTW). He’s been impossible to tackle all season long, AVERAGING over three yards per carry…after contact. That’s insane, my fellow Americans.
What’s also insane is just how good this Titans defense was against the AFC’s top seed and top-ranked offense. What’s interesting is that the Titans were better situationally than they were in total, allowing a ton of yards, but not surrendering points. Baltimore won on time of possession, total yards, passing yards, and yards per play, but Tennessee sacked Jackson four times. Only Cleveland and Pittsburgh have gotten to the young QB that much, and Cleveland was the last team to beat Baltimore (Pittsburgh lost by a field goal). Tennessee also snagged two picks and recovered a fumble to tilt the scales in their favor.
This game could have been a blowout in the other direction, but when Tennessee scored first, after an eight-play drive following Jackson’s first INT, Baltimore’s desperation sank in too quickly. On the ensuing possession, trailing only 7-0, John Harbaugh went for it on fourth down near midfield. The arrogance of that call will likely echo all offseason long, because Ryan Tannehill cashed in on the flub on the very next play, hitting Kalif Raymond in stride en route to a forty-five yards touchdown.
The Ravens would never recover.
It’s actually a trend we’ve seen before. The Ravens are nearly impossible to catch when they get out to an early lead, but they also lost the only other game in which they trailed after the first quarter, that blowout loss to the Browns early in the season. These Ravens are designed to salt away leads and take advantage of opponent’s miscues. They just didn’t have an answer when they found themselves down by two touchdowns against one of the few teams in the AFC whose run game can match their own.
Tennessee will look to keep their upset streak alive in the AFC Championship game against Kansas City at Arrowhead, where the cold weather might well give the Titans and their ground and pound approach an edge against a high-flying Chiefs offense.
For more thoughts and opinions from Tom, check out his author page.
Image Source: AP Images