FOXBORO, Mass. — It was a big night for the Tennessee Titans. It was an even bigger night for their head coach, Mike Vrabel.
The Titans crushed the Patriots’ hopes at a “revenge tour” with a 20-13 victory over New England in the wild-card round Saturday at Gillette Stadium. Tennesse was firing on all cylinders, from a stingy defense to relentless offense.
And Vrabel had plenty of praise to go around after the game.
“I think our players were just, they were ready to go,” Vrabel said. “Our coaching staff did a great job, to have them prepared. You know, I told them, ‘To win the game, you?re going to have to be mentally and physically exhausted,’ to win this football game. Anytime you?re in man coverage, they are going to try to pick and rub you. There’s going to be gadgets, or throwbacks, or whatever there may be. Defensively, they are going to do things that force you to think, Ben (Jones) and Ryan (Tannehill), and make calls. We didn?t hand them anything. And that’s the one thing, they feast on bad football and we didn?t hand them anything. And I don?t think our guys spent too much time staring up at those banners.”
Instead of the Patriots feasting on the Titans’ mistakes, however, it went the other way around. Tennessee capitalized on a number of New England’s miscues, including Logan Ryan’s game-clinching pick-six in the final seconds of the contest.
That said, the Patriots still managed to stay within striking distance for most of the second half. And Vrabel knew a win wouldn’t come easily.
“Yeah, I mean, there?s a reason they?re good, they?re well-coached,” Vrabel said. “I was very comfortable coming into this game, the way our guys just prepared. The way we started the game, I thought Kenny (Vaccaro) and I know a lot of guys on tape, but when you feel those hits on the sideline where I?m standing. And you see the line of scrimmage on offense go the other way, I felt pretty comfortable. And I knew there were going to be some ups and downs in the game, but early on I thought our guys were ready to play. And again, I am thankful that I get to coach them.”
Next week, however, won’t be any easier for the Titans when Tennessee takes on the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round next weekend.