The New England Patriots are on to their seventh consecutive AFC Championship game after beating the Tennessee Titans 35-14.
In the game Saturday, the Patriots turned in a complete performance. As we begin the countdown to championship weekend, here are a few high points that the Patriots can build from.
Offensive line play
Say what you will, but the most important storyline for the Patriots this week wasn’t the final score, it was the protection of quarterback Tom Brady by the offensive line.
The Titans defense only amounted to four total hits on Brady, one of the lowest totals all season. The offensive line gave Brady time and space to throw the ball, which led to him throwing for 337 yards and three touchdowns. Thanks to the offensive line, Brady was able to seal the win for the Patriots.
The offensive line set the tone for the run game. With a total of 101 rushing yards, the offensive line was able to make holes and give the ball carriers the running lanes they needed.
This was evident during running back Brandon Bolden’s two-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. The line was able to make a running lane so wide, Bolden wasn’t even touched as he jogged in the Patriots’ fourth touchdown of the night.
The Patriots made the most pivotal fourth-down stop of the game at the end of the second quarter.
The designed play was for an outside run for running back Derrick Henry, but the defense was able to tackle Henry for a loss to ultimately stop the Titans from gaining any momentum. This was just one of many examples of the physicality that was on display on Saturday night’s game.
Henry put 156 yards on 23 carries in an impressive statement game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Against the Patriots, however, he was only able to run the ball for 28 yards on 12 carries. Combined with quarterback Marcus Mariota in yards, the Titans’ running game was held to 65 yards.
The front seven for the defense was able to put pressure on Mariota throughout the game. Leading the pack were defensive linemen Deatrich Wise and Geneo Grissom, who combined for half of the team’s sacks.
The pass rush able to get to Mariota throughout the game but more importantly, they were able to sack him. With a total of 10 QB hits and eight sacks, the Patriots’ defense excelled Saturday.