The Tennessee Titans already checked “win first playoff game since the 2003 postseason” off their to-do list this past weekend. Now, they’re looking to end an even longer drought.
The Titans’ 22-21 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday set up a divisional-round date with the New England Patriots, a team Tennessee has beaten just once during the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era. That lone win came way back on Dec. 16, 2002, with the Patriots prevailing in each of the teams’ last six meetings, including one in the playoffs.
(For some context, Tennessee starting quarterback Marcus Mariota was 9 years old the last time the Patriots lost to the Titans. Yeah, it’s been that long.)
Ahead of Saturday night’s matchup at Gillette Stadium, here’s a look back at the last six Pats-Titans clashes:
Patriots 33, Titans 16 (Week 15, 2015)
Joey Iosefa carried the ball 15 times in his NFL career. All of but one of those carries came in this game. The Patriots fullback, who appeared in just two regular-season games before washing out of the NFL after the 2016 preseason, carried the ball 14 times for a game-high 51 yards as New England breezed past the Titans at Gillette Stadium.
This was a forgettable afternoon for then-rookie Mariota, who lost a fumble early in the second quarter that the Patriots returned for a touchdown and then left the game with an injury minutes later. Backup quarterback Zach Mettenberger was solid in relief (20 of 28, 242 yards, two touchdowns), but his two fourth-quarter interceptions ruined any chance of a Titans comeback.
Patriots 34, Titans 16 (Week 1, 2012)
The Patriots opened the 2012 season with a convincing road win in Nashville. Tom Brady completed 74.1 percent of his passes and threw for two touchdowns, and running back Stevan Ridley racked up 125 yards and a score on 21 carries as the Pats blew out the Jake Locker-led Titans.
Patriots 59, Titans 0 (Week 6, 2009)
A rare mid-October blizzard, those beautiful Pat Patriot throwbacks and a whole lot of Patriots points. What a game this was.
The conditions didn’t slow down Brady, who tossed an incredible five second-quarter touchdown passes and six TDs overall in an authoritative New England victory. And while Brady and Co. were scoring at will, the Patriots’ defense was holding Titans quarterbacks Kerry Collins and Vince Young to a combined minus-7 passing yards on 14 attempts. Minus-7!
The Patriots led 42-0 at halftime, and their 59-point margin of victory still is tied for the largest since the NFL-AFL merger.
Patriots 40, Titans 23 (Week 17, 2006)
With nothing at stake for the playoff-bound Patriots in this regular-season finale, Belichick gave 43-year-old backup quarterback Vinny Testaverde a few snaps in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Testaverde capitalized on that opportunity, throwing a touchdown pass to Troy Brown to his extend his NFL-record streak of consecutive seasons with a TD pass to 20.
Most assumed this would be the final pass of Testaverde’s interminable pro career, but he wound up returning for one more season, starting six games for the Carolina Panthers in 2007 before calling it quits.
Patriots 17, Titans 14 (2003 divisional round)
Think New England’s 13-degree win over the New York Jets two weekends ago was cold? It had nothing on this one, which featured a kickoff temperature of 4 degrees and remains the coldest game in Patriots history.
Playing in their first postseason game since Super Bowl XXXVI, the Patriots got touchdowns from wide receiver Bethel Johnson and running back Antowain Smith, as well as a 46-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri with 4:06 remaining that proved to be the game-winner. Steve McNair led the Titans into Patriots territory on their final drive but saw his pass bounce off Drew Bennett’s hands on fourth-and-12, spoiling the comeback bid and ending Tennessee’s season.
New England went on to knock off the Indianapolis Colts and Carolina Panthers to win its second Super Bowl title in three years.
Patriots 38, Titans 30 (Week 5, 2003)
We started this list with Joey Iosefa. We end it with Mike Cloud.
The former Boston College star rushed for a career-high 73 yards and two touchdowns in a wild game that played out very differently than the teams’ aforementioned divisional-round rematch. Every second-half possession yielded points, and the teams combined for three touchdowns in the final 4:43, including Cloud’s second score of the game and a 65-yard interception return by Ty Law.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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