Pats Vs. Titans First Half Thoughts
As the New England Patriots head to halftime of their divisional round playoff game against the Tennessee Titans, leading 21-7, here are some first half thoughts:
A Rough Start- The Patriot offense opened the game on the field, but had a rough start to the game, as they were forced to punt the ball after six plays. The tough sledding continued for Tom Brady and company, through their second drive, as the were halted around midfield, once again. In total, the unit ran just 12 plays for just 47 yards of offense, as they failed to score in the first quarter.
Trailing Early- To the surprise of likely everyone, including the Titans, Tennessee drew first blood in the game, scoring late in the first quarter. After stalling on their opening drive and getting pinned inside their own 5-yard line, to start their second, the Titans put together a dominant drive. After opening the series with a 36-yard pass completion to tight end Delanie Walker, Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota utilized his feet and arm to guide his team 95 yards down the field, on 11 plays, to grab an early 7-0 lead. The drive, which saw Mariota scamper for yards on third down, was capped by a wonderful throw to rookie Corey Davis, who made a sensational, one-handed snag to put the first points on the board.
Pats Come Roaring Back- Just as the Titans had flipped the script and snagged an early lead, the Patriots seemingly woke up from their early game slumber and decided to go to work. Down seven points and with the first quarter coming to an end, New England's offense took over for their third drive of the half and things began to change. After gaining just 47 yards on their first two drives of the night, Brady and company rattled off three straight scoring drives, each of which ended in the end zone. On the three drives, the Pats racked up 212 yards on 29 consecutive plays, to go on a 21-0 run.
Penalties Killing Titans- The Titans were called for two extremely costly penalties that helped set the patriots up for their 21-0, second quarter run. The first penalty was an offensive pass interference call that was called on wide out Eric Decker, for pushing off on a third down pass play. The Titans were forced to punt two plays later and the Pats, with great starting field position, took the ball 48 yards into the end zone for a 14-7 lead. Tennessee's second costly penalty came on special teams, as they were called for a neutral zone infraction on a punt that gave New England a first down on their third scoring drive of the game. The penalty was originally called on New England, as a false start, but was changed and the Pats took advantage by driving another 80+ yards into the end zone for a 21-7 lead. Both calls were close ones that severely hampered Tennessee's ability to hang in the game.
Welcome Back Scoring Party- The Pats seemed to be hosting a Welcome Back Scoring Party for their newly returned offensive weapons, James White and Chris Hogan, in the first half. With both players back in the lineup for the first time in a handful of weeks, they were given scoring opportunities that they capitalized on early. White scored the team's first two touchdowns, catching one and rushing another. Hogan capped the half by snagging a goal line strike from Brady late in the half.