FOXBOROUGH – At some point in the year, the New England Patriots defense went from earth-shattering to average. And it sunk this ship beforre the three-game tour to Miami in February ever left the dock.
A Patriots defense that strolled through the opening eight games was rather pedestrian to the bitter end.
Good, with this version of the New England offense, simply was not going to be enough. It showed in the regular-season finale with the Dolphins and it reared its head again a week later.
A second-half shutout and holding RyanTannehill to just 71 net passing yards was not enough in the 20-13 season-ender in the AFC Wild Card round on Saturday night.
“We just went 50 percent on third down against the top defense in the game,” said an elated Tennessee coach MikeVrabel after watching his front five shove the Patriots' front five backward from the first snap to the last.
In the end, Tannehill (one interception, one dropped snap) and the Titans did nothing to help the Patriots, and New England simply could not help itself. Tannehill probed where it hurt most, where the Patriots were most vulnerable. He made two significant throws and those were enough.