NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is a future Hall of Famer.
In his sparkling career, he's been voted to 13 Pro Bowls, and is a five-time Super Bowl champion. He's the NFL's all-time winningest player.
But on Sunday at Nissan Stadium, the Titans made Brady look average. They flustered the 19-year pro, forcing him to get rid of the ball before he wanted to. They had him ducking pressure throughout, causing many of his throws to sail off target.
When Brady left the game in the fourth quarter, replaced by back-up Brian Hoyer in an eventual 34-10 loss, he was a beaten down -- and beaten up -- man.
"We got pressure early on him," Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard said, "and the thing with Brady is if you get pressure early on him, it can mess with the o-line's head. He is going to be yapping. … We just wanted to keep him unhappy.
"Any time you get hit at quarterback, you don't like that pressure. We stuck to the game plan and attacked the middle of the pocket. We couldn't let him get comfortable back there and pick us apart … and he didn't."
Woodyard sacked Brady 1.5 times, and cornerback Logan Ryan got him once. Linebacker Jayon Brown joined Woodyard for a sack.
The Titans were credited with six quarterback hits, with Woodyard hitting Brady three times. Linebacker Rashaan Evans hit him, and defensive lineman Jurrell Casey was his usual disruptive self.
Brady competed just 21-of-41 passes for 254 yards in the contest, with a passer rating of just 70.6. He didn't throw a touchdown pass. Brady entered the contest with a 97.7 rating, and 17 touchdown passes.
"We definitely flustered him, and that was the key to this game," Casey said. "That was the key in this game – attack the pocket, and get up in his face and make him throw duck balls. And we saw that happen from him all game long.
"You could tell he was trying to get away from the hit, get away from the pressure. And as long as we could keep applying that pressure, we knew we had him."
While the Titans were pressuring Brady, players on the back end were making plays, too.
Patriots running back Sony Michel managed just 31 rushing yards. The Patriots were just 3-of-15 (20 percent) on third down.
Ryan made a big breakout on fourth down in the second half.
"We put great pressure on him throughout the game, and we didn't let up," linebacker Brian Orakpo said. "We emphasized – we have to put pressure on him. … We had all kinds of people making plays and it was a remarkable sight to see."
Brady credited the Titans.
"They did a good job," Brady said. "They executed well. Obviously, we didn't. It was just a bad day for all of us. … We have to give them a lot of credit, they made a lot of plays."
Titans coach Mike Vrabel gave props to defensive coordinator Dean Pees.
The Titans entered the contest ranked No.1 in the NFL in scoring defense. The Patriots managed just 16 first downs, and they were forced to punt six times. The Patriots were shut out in the second half.
"I can't give enough credit to Dean, his staff, and most importantly the players," Vrabel said. "Dean had them ready to go. They were prepared, they weren't caught off guard, we were lined up, didn't hand them anything.
"Dan called a great game. He mixed up calls, coverages, people he was bringing and the players ultimately executed. They played hard."
Titans safety Kevin Byard was on the team that lost to the Patriots – and Brady -- in the playoffs last season.
In his previous three meetings against the Titans, Brady had completed 10 touchdown passes vs zero interceptions. He had a 100-plus rating in five games against the Titans heading into Sunday's contest.
But he was greeted by a different Titans team on Sunday.
"I wouldn't use the word flustered, but I definitely think we made him uncomfortable back there," Titans safety Kevin Byard said of Brady. "You definitely saw him moving around, trying to move in the pocket. We hit him a lot of times, got a few sacks.
"Honestly, I think that was one of the keys to help us win the game. We got him off his spot, and caused him to make some errant throws. He made some throws in the pocket, of course, but at the end of the day we made more plays than they did."
The Tennessee Titans take on the New England Patriots in Week 10 of the 2018 season on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018 at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)
The Tennessee Titans prepare to take on the New England Patriots in Week 10 of the 2018 season on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018 at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)