Titans vs. Patriots keys to victory: Marcus Mariota, Derrick Henry must eat the clock

CLOSE

The Tennessee Titans will be facing Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Saturday. Quarterback Marcus Mariota has been targeted as one of the future stars of the NFL. Autumn Allison|USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee

Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) scores in the second half against the Chiefs on Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium.(Photo: Andrew Nelles / Tennessean)

CONNECTCOMMENTEMAILMORE

Three keys to victory for the (10-7) against the Patriots (13-3) in their AFC divisional playoff game Saturday night (7:15 p.m. CT, CBS) at Gillette Stadium:

Eating the clock

Quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back Derrick Henry will need to churn out yards on the ground and convert third downs, shortening the game and keeping the powerful New England offense off the field.

Last week, in the Titans’ 18-point comeback against the Chiefs, they dominated time of possession 19:04 to 10:56 and converted all seven third downs, not including a Mariota kneel in victory formation. They’ll want a repeat performance.

FacebookTitans loss to Patriots 17-14 in AFC Divisional Playoff Jan. 10, 2004Post to Facebook

Posted!

A link has been posted to your Facebook feed.

Buy Photo New England Patriots fans Mary and Daniel Correa huddle together prior to the start of the AFC Divisional Playoff game against Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004. Temperatures were minus-5 degrees.  Sanford Myers / The TennesseanBuy Photo New England Patriots fan Brian Claire bundles up his son Nolan, 10, prior to the start of the AFC Divisional Playoff game against Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  John Partipilo / The TennesseanBuy Photo New England Patriots fan John Wardwell tries to stay warm prior to the start of the AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  John Partipilo / The TennesseanBuy Photo John Guarino serves up a cup of chowder at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., before the start of the AFC Divisional Playoff game between New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans Jan. 10, 2004. Guarino said that the chowder was over 140 degrees and was serving it to raise money for the Woonsocket High School soccer team in Woonsocket, RI.  Sanford Myers / The Tennessean Tennessee Titans receiver Drew Bennett takes the field as the thermometer reaches 2 degrees at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., for the AFC Divisional Playoff game against New England Patriots Jan. 10, 2004.  George Walker IV / The Tennessea Tennessee Titans fan Jerome Dubois of Watertown, Tenn., cheers on his team prior to the start of the game against New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  George Walker IV / The Tennessea Tennessee Titans fan Stephanie Daughtery cheers on her team as they warm up at the Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., against New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Playoff game Jan. 10, 2004. Daughtery came all the way from San Diego to watch the game.  George Walker IV / The TennesseaBuy Photo New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) is getting pressure from Tennessee Titans defensive end Jevon Kearse (90) during the first quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  Sanford Myers / The Tennessean New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a pass during the AFC divisional playoff game against the Tennessee Titans Jan. 10, 2004 in Foxborough, Mass.  Stephan Savoia / AP Photo New England Patriot Bethel Johnson (81) catches a touchdown pass against Tennessee Titans during the first quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004 for the first score of the game.  Stephan Savoia / AP PhotoBuy Photo Tennessee Titans receiver Derrick Mason (85) is being tackle by the New England Patriots defender Eugene Wilson (26) during the first quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxboroughh, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  Sanford Myers / The TennesseanBuy Photo Tennessee Titans receiver Drew Bennett (83) is evading New England Patriots defender Ted Johnson (52) after catching a pass during the first quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  Sanford Myers / The Tennessean Tennessee Titans star running back Eddie George is getting tackle by the New England Patriots defenders Tedy Bruschi (54) and Roman Phifer (95) during the first quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  George Walker IV / The TennesseaBuy Photo New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison is intercepting a pass intended for Tennessee Titans tight end Shad Meier during the first quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  Sanford Myers / The Tennessean New England Patriots tight end Christian Fauria and an official signals teammate Antowain Smith‘s touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during the second quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  Charles Krupa / AP PhotoBuy Photo Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George (27) heads up the field against the New England Patriots during the second quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  Sanford Myers / The Tennessean Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair (9) attempts to scrambles away from the New England Patriots defender Richard Seymour (93) during the second quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  George Walker IV / The Tennessea New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady looks downfield for a receiver against the Tennessee Titans during the second quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  Jim Rogash / AP Photo New England Patriots running back Antowain Smith (32) is being pull down by Tennessee Titans defenders Tank Williams (25) and Scott McGarrahan (42) during the second quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  George Walker IV / The Tennessea Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair running out of the pocket as he attempts to throw against the New England Patriots during the second quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  Winslow Townson / AP PhotoBuy Photo Tennessee Titans receiver Derrick Mason (85) is being push out of bounds by the New England Patriots defender Eugene Wilson (26) during the second quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  John Partipilo / The Tennessean Tennessee Titans‘ Shad Meier (84) is being tackle by the New England Patriots‘ Dan Kiecko after he recovers his kicker Gary Anderson‘s blocked field goal attempt during the second quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  George Walker IV / The TennesseaBuy Photo The Tennessee Titans offensive line and the New England Patriots defensive line line up during the third quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  George Walker IV / The Tennessean Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher watches his team play the New England Patriots during the third quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  Charles Krupa / AP Photo New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches his team play the Tennessee Titans during the third quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxboro, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  George Walker IV / The Tennessea Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George (27) is being pull down by a New England Patriots defender after knocking over Tedy Bruschi (54) during the third quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxboro, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  George Walker IV / The Tennessea Tennessee Titans receiver Tyrone Calico (87) is catching a pass against New England Patriots during the third quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  George Walker IV / The TennesseaBuy Photo Tennessee Titans receiver Tyrone Calico (87) is catching a pass against New England Patriots during the third quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  Sanford Myers / The Tennessean Tennessee Titans receiver Justin McCareins (86) is heading up the field after catching a pass as New England Patriots defender Roman Phifer moves in during the third quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  George Walker IV / The TennesseaBuy Photo Tennessee Titans receiver Derrick Mason gets hit by New England Patriots defender Tyrone Poole at the goal line for a touchdown pass reception during the third quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  John Partipilo / The Tennessean Tennessee Titans receiver Derrick Mason gets hit by New England Patriots defender Tyrone Poole at the goal line for a touchdown pass reception during the third quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  Winslow Townson / AP Photo Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair (9) celebrates the team‘s touchdown against New England Patriots with teammate Brad Hopkins (72) during the third quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  Charles Krupa / AP PhotoBuy Photo Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher, center, talks with Keith Bullock (53) and other members of the defense about stopping the New England Patriots during the fourth quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  Sanford Myers / The TennesseanBuy Photo Tennessee Titans defenders Lance Schulters (31) and Tank Williams (29) celebrate after stopping a New England Patriots drive during the fourth quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  Sanford Myers / The TennesseanBuy Photo New England Patriots defender Bobby Hamilton (91) looks on after bringing down Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair during the fourth quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  John Partipilo / The TennesseanBuy Photo Tennessee Titans defensive end Jevon Kearse exhales while sitting on the bench as the office faces New England Patriots during the fourth quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., on Jan. 10, 2004.  Sanford Myers / The Tennessean Tennessee Titans defensive linemen Robaire Smith (98), Albert Haynesworth (92) and Kevin Carter (93) leap but can‘t block what will be the game-winning field goal by New England Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri during the fourth quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  Charles Krupa / AP Photo New England Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri celebrates his field goal for a 17-14 lead against the Tennessee Titans during the fourth quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  Winslow Townson / AP PhotoBuy Photo New England Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri is being congratulated by teammates after kicking the field goal for a 17-14 lead against the Tennessee Titans during the fourth quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., on Jan. 10, 2004.  George Walker IV / The Tennessean New England Patriots defensive back Asante Samuels (22) goes up to knock away a pass intended for Tennessee Titans receiver Drew Bennett (83) late in the fourth quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 10, 2004.  Charles Krupa / AP PhotoBuy Photo Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher, right, argues with a referee during the game against New England Patriots late in the fourth quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., on Jan. 10, 2004.  George Walker IV / The TennesseanBuy Photo Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair, left, talks with his receiver Drew Bennett on the bench after Bennett missed the a first down pass near the end of their 17-14 loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., on Jan. 10, 2004.  Sanford Myers / The Tennessean Tennessee Titans wide receiver Darrell Hill carries his belongings out of the team training facility Jan. 11, 2004 after their season ended in the AFC divisional playoff loss to the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass., the night before.  George Walker IV / The Tennessea Tennessee Titans tight end Frank Wycheck, who is retiring from the NFL, laughs with reporters after cleaning out his locker at the team training facility Jan. 11, 2004. The Titans season ended with a divisional playoff loss to the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass., the night before.  George Walker IV / The Tennessea

Replay

AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow Captions

Bracket Gronkowski

The Titans have not fared well defending tight ends this season, and they will have a problem with 6-foot-6, 265-pound tight end Rob Gronkowski.

The Titans might try to bracket Gronkowski, perhaps with rangy linebacker Jayon Brown and hard-hitting safety Johnathan Cyprien, though safety Kevin Byard is better in coverage.

Gronk led all NFL tight ends with 1,084 receiving yards, finishing first at his position for the fourth time in his career. He caught eight touchdowns.

.oembed-frame { width: 100%; height: 100%; margin: 0; border: 0; }

Pressure up the middle

Tom Brady has a quick release on the ball and isn’t particularly fazed by edge rushers. The Titans will need to get pressure up the middle to make him move.

Three-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jurrell Casey will need to have a big day, as will Karl Klug, Sylvester Williams and Austin Johnson.

If the Titans can generate pressure up the middle, as well as on the edge, the Patriots may choose to keep running backs in to protect, rather than allow them to leak out of the backfield for passes.

Reach Jason Wolf at jwolf and follow him on Twitter  and on Instagram and Snapchat at TitansBeat.

Skip in x

Embed

x

Share

CLOSETITANS CONTINUE PLAYOFF BERTH WITH BOUT AGAINST PATRIOTS Titans look to continue playoff run, topple Patriots | 0:31

Tennessee Titans surprised many when they downed Kansas City. They‘ll be looking to take on an even bigger challenge, the defending Super Bowl champions the New England Patriots. Autumn Allison|USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee

1 of 8Skip in x

Embed

x

Share

CLOSETITANS CONTINUE PLAYOFF BERTH WITH BOUT AGAINST PATRIOTS Logan Ryan discusses his experience with Patriots | 1:31

Titans cornerback Logan Ryan answered questions about his former team ahead of Saturday‘s AFC divisional round game vs. the Patriots. Colton Pouncy/USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee

2 of 8Skip in x

Embed

x

Share

CLOSETITANS CONTINUE PLAYOFF BERTH WITH BOUT AGAINST PATRIOTS Titans' DC Dick LeBeau says anyone can win in the NFL | 0:36

Dick LeBeau, Titans defensive coordinator, has faced New England Patriots‘ coach Bill Belichick many times over his career. Saturday‘s playoff match up will be the latest with the Titans as the underdogs. Autumn Allison|USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee

3 of 8Skip in x

Embed

x

Share

CLOSETITANS CONTINUE PLAYOFF BERTH WITH BOUT AGAINST PATRIOTS Titans v. Patriots: Will youth prevail in match up between Brady and Mariota? | 0:53

The Tennessee Titans will be facing Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Saturday. Quarterback Marcus Mariota has been targeted as one of the future stars of the NFL. Autumn Allison|USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee

4 of 8Skip in x

Embed

x

Share

CLOSETITANS CONTINUE PLAYOFF BERTH WITH BOUT AGAINST PATRIOTS Adoree Jackson not going to be shaken by Patriots, playoffs says Mularkey | 0:26

Titans‘ rookie Adoree Jackson has become a big asset for Tennessee this season for his speed and agility. Autumn Allison|USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee

5 of 8Skip in x

Embed

x

Share

CLOSETITANS CONTINUE PLAYOFF BERTH WITH BOUT AGAINST PATRIOTS Mariota: Brady 'has been the best' | 0:32

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota said that as a young quarterback, Tom Brady is someone who he aspires to emulate. Autumn Allison|USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee

6 of 8Skip in x

Embed

x

Share

CLOSETITANS CONTINUE PLAYOFF BERTH WITH BOUT AGAINST PATRIOTS Patriots are team you have to beat to be champs, Mike Mularkey says | 0:32

Titans coach Mike Mularkey and quarterback Marcus Mariota aren‘t in awe of New England‘s many Super Bowl titles as they prepare to head to the next round of the NFL playoffs at Foxborough. Autumn Allison / USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee

7 of 8Skip in x

Embed

x

Share

CLOSETITANS CONTINUE PLAYOFF BERTH WITH BOUT AGAINST PATRIOTS What happened last time Titans played the Patriots in the playoffs? | 0:45

The Tennessee Titans will face the New England Patriots for the first time in the AFC playoffs since 2004. Wochit

8 of 8

  • Titans look to continue playoff run, topple Patriots
  • Logan Ryan discusses his experience with Patriots
  • Titans' DC Dick LeBeau says anyone can win in the NFL
  • Titans v. Patriots: Will youth prevail in match up between Brady and Mariota?
  • Adoree Jackson not going to be shaken by Patriots, playoffs says Mularkey
  • Mariota: Brady 'has been the best'
  • Patriots are team you have to beat to be champs, Mike Mularkey says
  • What happened last time Titans played the Patriots in the playoffs?

.oembed-frame { width: 100%; height: 100%; margin: 0; border: 0; }

 

 

CONNECTCOMMENTEMAILMORE

By