FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – On his birthday, Titans running back Derrick Henry took the cake.
And the Titans blew out the candles on New England's season.
On a cold and foggy night, The Titans pulled out a mammoth win over the New England Patriots, winning 20-13 as Henry led the way.
Henry, who turned 26 on Saturday, ran for 182 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries. Henry accounted for 204 of the team's 272 yards of total offense.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game," Henry said. "We just had the mindset to never give up and keep playing. That's the way we like it – we want it gritty, and we want it dirty.
"We played Titans football. We knew we were coming into a hostile environment, and we just had to play our game."
Cornerback Logan Ryan intercepted Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and returned it for a touchdown with nine seconds remaining for Tennessee, setting the stage for the win.
The Titans defense didn't allow a point in the second half.
"It feels amazing," defensive lineman Jurrell Casey said. "Some people might be surprised by this, but we knew what we had to do, and we knew we had to take care of business. We came in and whooped some tail."
The Titans will travel to face the Ravens next Saturday night at 7:15 CT in Baltimore.
"This team was 2-4 at one point, and written off for dead," Ryan said. "Now we just beat the Patriots in Foxborough. Belief and hard work can do a lot of things. This is a gritty team, but we know our work is not done."
Even before Saturday night, it had been a memorable season for the Titans, who finished with their fourth consecutive winning season (9-7), marking their first time to do so in the "Titans era."
With a 2-4 mark after Week 6, the Titans made a quarterback change, as Ryan Tannehill stepped in for Marcus Mariota. The Titans ended up going 7-3 in their final 10 games to reach the postseason, clinching a playoff spot for the second time in three seasons with a win at Houston last weekend.
Tannehill led the NFL with a 117.5 passer rating during a season when Henry captured the NFL's rushing title with 1,540 yards, racking up 16 rushing touchdowns and six 100-yard games along the way, including a 211-yard performance last Sunday in Houston.
Then, on Saturday night, the Titans came to town and knocked off the defending Super Bowl champions.
"It feels awesome," said Tannehill, who completed 8-of-15 passes for 72 yards on a night when the Titans relied on Henry. "I am so proud of our guys – we fought. It was ugly at times offensively, but we found a way to make plays at the end and came out with a W."
With fog swirling above Gillette Stadium, it was tight from the get-go.
The Titans took an early 7-3 lead on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill to tight end Anthony Firkser, which capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive. Henry ran for 49 yards on seven carries on the team's opening drive, providing a sign of things to come in the process.
"I am just excited," said Firkser, who made a big third down catch late. "I am excited for the Titans, and happy I could contribute."
The Patriots, who took an early 3-0 lead on a 36-yard field goal by kicker Nick Folk, regained the lead 10-7 on a five-yard rushing touchdown by receiver Julian Edelman.
The Titans were in danger of going into a double-digit deficit before halftime, but the defense got a big stop, holding the Patriots to another field goal after they had a first and goal at the Tennessee 1. Titans linebacker Rashaan Evans made a pair of stops near the goal-line, including one on a Sony Michel run on third down, and the Patriots led 13-7 with 2:16 left in the first half after another Folk field goal.
At the end of the first half, the Titans then reclaimed the lead at 14-13 with 35 seconds left in the first half on a one-yard touchdown run by Henry, which capped a seven-play, 75-yard drive.
"I feel like that gave us a little bit of momentum," Evans said of the stop, and score. "They drove down in the red zone, and we were able to hold them. I think we did just enough to win this game, and now we have to be even better."
After Saturday's game, the Titans celebrated.
But they know their work is only beginning.
The Ravens are the AFC's No.1 seed.
"I gave a quick speech," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. "We are all excited, and we'll all enjoy it. But we have to get back to work quickly, get as healthy as we possibly can, and get ready to go on the road again."
The Tennessee Titans take on the New England Patriots in an AFC Wild Card playoff game at Gillette Stadium. (Photos: Donald Page)