Each week this season, Titans Online is taking a look back at a game in franchise history against the upcoming opponent.
Dec. 16, 2002: Titans 24, Patriots 7
This week’s flashback highlights a game in which Tennessee used its run game to churn the clock and a bruising defense to hold New England to a season-low 176 yards of offense.
The Titans, who led the NFL in time of possession, kept the ball a whopping 41 minutes, 30 seconds. Tennessee held the ball 32:50 in the final three quarters, muzzling any hopes the Patriots had for a comeback on Monday Night Football.
QB Steve McNair scored a pair of second-quarter touchdowns from 11 yards and 1 yard to put the Titans up 14-0 at halftime. The first score capped a 12-play, 78-yard drive that lasted six minutes, 18 seconds, and the second TD punctuated a 12-play, 58-yard drive that consumed 6:48.
The Patriots answered with a 10-yard TD run by Tom Brady to start the third quarter, but Tennessee distanced itself on the first play of New England’s next possession when safety Rich Coady returned an interception of Brady 24 yards for a touchdown for a 21-7 lead in the third quarter.
McNair, who played without practicing for a third consecutive week because of sore ribs, finished with six carries for 49 yards in the first two quarters, Eddie George led the Titans with 101 yards on 31 carries and Robert Holcombe added 85 yards on 10 carries. The Titans finished with 238 yards rushing, which was their highest total since gaining 255 yards against Oakland in their first game as the Tennessee Oilers on Aug. 31, 1997.
Tennessee held Brady to 14-of-29 passing that included the costly interception and sacked him three times.
Titans defensive end Javon Kearse returned to action from a broken foot he suffered in the season opener, and his teammates responded to the energy surge. Henry Ford and Carlos Hall each recorded sacks of Brady, and Kevin Carter and Robaire Smith split one.