Patriots-Titans Takeaways: Stephon Gilmore Perfect In Playoff Debut

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Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore

Photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images

FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore is having a lot of fun. And why would he be?

Gilmore signed a five-year, $65 million contract over the offseason and is coming off a 35-14 win over the Tennessee Titans in his postseason debut.

The Patriots transcribed four answers from Gilmore’s media availability Saturday night. Gilmore said the word “fun” eight times.

Here’s his reaction to playing his first playoff game:

“It was fun. It’s always fun when you win, but we were making plays out there and having fun with each other. We were amped up a little bit more in the playoffs and it was fun.”

On top of having fun, Gilmore also is playing extremely well. He was targeted by Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota just four times, and he didn’t allow a single catch while breaking up two passes. The postseason seems to suit Gilmore well.

Here’s our full list of takeaways from the Patriots’ divisional-round win, which vaults them into the AFC Championship Game against the winner of Sunday’s Jacksonville Jaguars-Pittsburgh Steelers matchup:

PASSING ATTACK
— Tom Brady completed 35 of 53 passes for 337 yards with three touchdowns. Of his 18 incompletions, three were drops, two were throwaways, one was batted at the line and one came as he was hit while throwing. His 77.6 accuracy percentage was the second highest of Saturday’s divisional-round games, behind Nick Foles’ 82.8 percent.

— Brady was just 1-of-4 for 25 yards on throws 20 yard or more downfield.

— Running back Dion Lewis didn’t have any drops during the regular season but did drop a pass Saturday. James White dropped two passes.

— Wide receiver Danny Amendola was targeted on 30.6 percent of the passing snaps where he lined up in the slot. He had a 90.9 percent catch rate out of the slot.

RUNNING GAME
— Lewis forced two missed tackles on 24 touches and averaged 2 yards after contact. Lewis’ advanced stats didn’t pop, but he had a monster game with 141 total yards from scrimmage.

— White forced one missed tackle on eight touches and averaged 3 yards after contact. Brandon Bolden averaged 1.25 yards after contact and didn’t force any missed tackles.

PASS PROTECTION
RT LaAdrian Waddle: five hurries allowed
LT Nate Solder: QB hit, two hurries
LG Joe Thuney: three hurries
RG Shaq Mason: two hurries
C David Andrews: one hurry

— Waddle left the game with a knee injury. Cameron Fleming replaced him and didn’t allow a pressure on 22 pass block snaps. Patriots running backs and tight ends also didn’t let up any pressures.

— Brady wasn’t sacked in the game. He did a nice job of evading the pressure his blockers did allow.

PASS RUSH
DE Geneo Grissom: two sacks, three hurries
DE Deatrich Wise: two sacks, two hurries
DE Trey Flowers: sack, two QB hits, hurry
DT Adam Butler: sack, two hurries
LB Kyle Van Noy: three hurries
LB Marquis Flowers: sack
DT Ricky Jean Francois: sack
DT Lawrence Guy: hurry

— Grissom was extremely productive in limited time. It obviously helped that the Patriots knew the Titans would be throwing while Grissom was in the game in garbage time.

— The Patriots set a franchise postseason record with eight sacks. It was by far their best pass-rushing performance of the season.

— Wise, Flowers, Butler, Van Noy and Flowers all have high upside as pass rushers. If they can continue producing like they did Saturday night, the Patriots’ defense will continue to dominate.

— Jean Francois had the fastest sack, taking down Mariota just 3.43 seconds after the snap.

PASS COVERAGE
CB Malcolm Butler: 6 receptions allowed on 8 targets, 72 yards, two TDs allowed
CB Eric Rowe: 6-10, 47 yards
SS Patrick Chung: 3-4, 46 yards
CB Jonathan Jones: 2-2, 34 yards
LB James Harrison: 1-1, 22 yards
LB Kyle Van Noy: 2-2, 18 yards
LB Marquis Flowers: 1-1, 14 yards
LB Nicholas Grigsby: 1-2, 1 yard
CB Stephon Gilmore: 0-4, two PBUs
FS Devin McCourty: 0-1

— Butler had the toughest game of any Patriots player. He allowed both Titans touchdowns.

— Rowe was targeted heavily but more than held his own. His tackling stood out as a positive.

— Gilmore blanked Titans receivers.

RUN DEFENSE
LB James Harrison: two stops
DE Trey Flowers: two stops
DT Lawrence Guy: two stops
DT Malcom Brown: one stop
DE Eric Lee: one stop
LB Elandon Roberts: one stop
CB Malcolm Butler: one stop
FS Devin McCourty: one stop

— The Patriots’ key to defensive success was limiting Titans running back Derrick Henry to just 28 yards on 12 carries. The Patriots dared the Titans to throw, and Marcus Mariota couldn’t outduel Brady.

Stats via Pro Football Focus

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