Analyzing Houston and Tennessee’s Wild Card Playoff Wins

The Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans both advance to the divisional round of the playoffs. The Titans are taking on the Baltimore Ravens while the Texans will take on the Kansas City Chiefs. On the other hand, the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots are both going home.

For New England, this is the first time since 2009 that they’ve lost in the wildcard. In Buffalo’s case, the team hasn’t won a playoff game since 1995. Tennessee now has two playoff wins in the last three years but has not made it past the divisional round since 2002. Houston, on the other hand, has two playoff wins in the last four years and has never made it past the divisional round.

Tennessee stepped on the field focused and ready to play. Despite all the odds being against them, Tennessee couldn’t give up without a fight. Derrick Henry‘s rushing for 182 yards is a Titans playoff record. It’s also the most against a Patriots team coached by Bill Belichick in the playoffs. In addition, Henry’s 73.6 percent of the Titan’s scrimmage yards is the second-highest all-time in a playoff game.

The Titans’ defense showed resiliency. It was a pick-six that sealed the deal for Tennessee. Holding Tom Brady to only 209 yards through the air(His lowest since the 2013 Divisional round against Indianapolis) with no touchdowns and one interception. The Patriots’ offense had problems. It’s been struggling for most of the regular season. The offensive struggles in this game is a big factor in New England’s loss.

While New England’s defense did their best keeping Ryan Tannehill at only 72 passing yards and forcing a turnover in the fourth quarter, the New England offense couldn’t capitalize. The resiliency of the Titans defense was seen when they forced New England to settle for a field goal despite being in a first and goal at the one-yard line position. The Titans defense came up with two turnovers, a turnover-on-downs, and forcing five punts. A solid defense and an effective run game gave Tennessee the 20-13 hard-fought win.

Buffalo got off to a strong start and maintained control of the game. However, Buffalo’s dominance was short-lived. Houston simply would not settle for a loss. With Houston trailing 13-0 at halftime, it seemed as though Buffalo was edging closer and closer to sealing the win. However, Houston still had some fight in them. In Houston’s case, there was still time and a chance and they took it.

Deep in the third quarter, Buffalo was closing in on scoring another touchdown to put the game away. However, a sack by J.J. Watt forced Buffalo to settle for a field a goal. It was that play that seemingly turned the game around as Houston immediately responded with a touchdown and a two-point conversion. Houston would rally and take a three-point lead with less than five minutes to go. Buffalo would tie it to send it into overtime where Houston would prevail. Houston earns the first playoff win when trailing at half-time. They were previously 0-5. Watson along with DeAndre Hopkins played a massive role in sparking the Texans offense. Despite Hopkins fumbling on his first catch of the night, he would rectify his mistake, finishing with six catches for 90 yards.

Deshaun Watson is the only quarterback in the 15 years with a 14-point comeback in both the NFL and in College. Houston’s amazing resiliency and unique mentality and concentration are what allowed Houston to come from behind and win the game. Buffalo, on the other hand, took their foot off the gas pedal and it was a crucial mistake. The Bills had over 400 yards of total offense while Houston had 360. Buffalo also had more first downs. Josh Allen did his best, but the Bills couldn’t find a way to pull through despite having multiple chances to still put it off despite Houston’s strong resiliency.

The Titans play January 11th on the road against Lamar Jackson & company. It’s going to be a bigger challenge as Baltimore is far more dangerous than New England. The odds are certainly not in Tennessee’s favor. However, the odds were against them against the Patriots, so it’s clear that being the underdog doesn’t affect the Titans.

The Texans will square off against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs on January 12th. Much like the Titans, Houston’s facing a bigger challenge than before. However, much like their bout with Buffalo, resiliency and a winning mentality is a key to victory for the Texans.

There’s one thing that Tennessee learned in their win in the wildcard; there’s no such thing as an easy win.

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