Welcome to the last edition for the 2019 of three ups and three downs. The Patriots fell to the Titans on Wild Card weekend, 20-13 to the Tennessee Titans. The loss ends the Patriots season after a 12-4 record. The Patriots lost five of their last nine games after starting the season 8-0. Before we say goodbye to the 2019-2020 season officially, let's look back at the ups and downs from the Titans game.
Up: Benjamin Watson
For most of the season, Benjamin Watson was basically invisible in the catching game. It's looking like the 38 year old tight end is going to be retiring for good. If that's the case, what a final game for Watson! He finished the game with three receptions for 38 yards and should have had a fourth reception, which got wiped off after a penalty. Watson wanted one last shot at a title run and came up short. It was nice to see Watson end his career with the team that it all started with in the first place.
Down: Pats Rush Defense
Where do I begin with this group? The Patriots knew coming in that the Titans had Derrick Henry. Henry was going to touch the ball 30+ times and you knew that. Sure enough, Henry had 34 carries for 182 yards and a score. Henry ran through the Patriots defense like swiss cheese! Granted, the second half looked a little bit better than the first. Ryan Tannehill? He threw the ball 15 times. 15! This defense was the number one defense in the entire NFL. I'm thinking that the first half/weaker part of the schedule might have had something to do with that. Good grief!
Up: Sony Michel
Sony Michel has really solidified himself as a solid December/January running back. Michel finished the game with 14 carries for 61 yards. Quick math on that is 4.4 yards per carry. The former Georgia running back is going to be vital to the Patriots future. A lot of people were saying Michel wasn't worth drafting in the first round. Well, it looks like he's going to have a fine future in the NFL after all.
Down: Shaq Mason
Penalties will kill momentum all of the time. Yes, we can talk about the Patriots not scoring at the one yard line three straight times, I get that. But, the Patriots also had a drive stalled by a Shaq Mason penalty. Mason was called for illegal man downfield when the Patriots converted on a third down pass to a wide open Benjamin Watson. That ultimately ended the drive right there as the Patriots didn't convert a first down the next play. Stay in the backfield with the line and Brady and that drive could have resulted in a game winning field goal.
Up: James White
James White had another good game catching passes. He had five receptions for 62 yards. White is an underrated part of the offense that the Patriots don't seem to use as often as they should. Going forward, the Patriots will have to find ways to keep White consistently involved in the offense.
Down: Julian Edelman
Two catches for 12 yards and a big drop late in the game. That's all you can say about Julian Edelman. The drop on 2nd and six is not prime Edelman. My guess is Mike Vrabel made sure to focus on Edelman and have him double-covered. Now is a perfect time for Edelman to rest up his shoulder and get ready for a monstrous 2020 season.
Thank you to all who have followed the three ups and downs articles. It's a shame we can't be writing more this season. But hey, can't go to/win the Super Bowl every year! We're on to 2020.