NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Reactions varied among former Patriots in the Tennessee Titans’ locker room after their commanding 34-10 win over New England.
Running back Dion Lewis, who played for the Patriots from 2015 to 2017, carried the ball 20 times for 57 yards and caught two passes for 11 yards. He had a little something extra behind those 68 yards.
“Hell yeah, it’s personal,” Lewis told NFL Media. “That’s what happens when you go cheap. You get your ass kicked.”
The running back seemed to hold similar feelings back in August. He signed a four-year, $19.8 million contract with the Titans this offseason. It’s worth noting the Patriots were up against the salary cap until they freed up space midway through this season.
The Patriots drafted Sony Michel in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft to replace Lewis and signed Jeremy Hill, who tore his ACL in Week 1 to add to their running back stable that already included James White and Rex Burkhead, who’s currently on injured reserve. The Patriots cut running backs Brandon Bolden and Mike Gillislee out of training camp and have had issues with their running back depth for most of the season.
Cornerbacks Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan weren’t nearly as controversial in their comments Sunday. Butler played for the Patriots from 2014 to 2017, while Ryan played in New England from 2013 to 2016. Both players won two Super Bowls with the Patriots.
Butler famously was benched in Super Bowl LII. If anyone wanted revenge, it should have been Butler.
“Most definitely not,” Butler said. “It’s not personal. I wanted to win, though. I want to beat everyone I go against. It wasn’t personal. No bad blood between (Bill) Belichick, none of those players, none of those coaches, Mr. Kraft, none of those guys. I’ve got nothing but respect for them.”
Ryan also killed the Patriots with kindness after Sunday’s Titans win.
“Nah, it wasn’t personal,” Ryan said. “I have a lot of respect for that organization, and if we want to get to where we want to get to, we have to beat teams like that and beat organizations like that. I’m grateful for my entire four years there, but it made me a better player and made me a leader of the team I’m on today.”
Ryan sacked quarterback Tom Brady before the half and made a key pass breakup on fourth-and-6 in the fourth quarter to force a turnover on downs.
“(Brady’s) heavier than I thought,” Ryan said. “I thought, all that pliability, I thought I could pick him up. I had to double take that. It was pretty cool.”
Thumbnail photo via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports Images