FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – When the eerie Foxborough fog lifted, it became clear that New England’s reign atop the NFL was ending.
Derrick Henry ensured that with the kind of dominating playoff performance usually reserved for Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Henry rushed for 182 yards and a touchdown while Tennessee’s defense stymied Brady and perhaps ended his championship-filled New England career with a 20-13 wild-card victory Saturday night.
Brady vows to be back on an NFL field next season, but his contract with the Patriots is done.
“I love the Patriots,” the 42-year Brady said, adding about leaving the game after 20 seasons: “I would say it’s pretty unlikely, hopefully unlikely. I love playing football. I don’t know what it looks like moving forward.”
Doing the most moving forward Saturday night was Henry, who had a total of 184 yards rushing in two playoff games two years ago. He nearly got that against the league’s top-ranked defense in boosting the Titans (10-7) into the divisional round at No. 1 seed Baltimore.
“It’s a great win against a great team in a hostile environment,” Henry said on his 26th birthday. “Credit to my team. I’m just happy we were able to advance.
“We were just locked in. That was our mindset, just coming in here doing what we needed to do in all three phases, stay locked in no matter what happens in the game, and I feel like we did that.”
As that dense fog that shrouded Gillette Stadium for the first half dissipated, the Patriots, who made the last three Super Bowls and won two, stalled repeatedly with the ball. They no longer were the bullies on the block — Henry was.
As for this defeat, the Patriots’ fourth as a wild card, Brady noted: “They kind of stopped us in the first half and the second half and we couldn’t get the job done.”
There had been no scoring in the second half when All-Pro Brett Kern’s 58-yard punt that took up 10 of the final 25 seconds rolled down at the New England 1. Brady then was picked by former Patriot Logan Ryan for a 9-yard touchdown to finish off the Patriots (12-5), who at one point were 8-0.
The Patriots struggled mightily in the second half of their schedule. They lost four games, and with the defeat by the Titans, fell three times at home.
Tennessee starter Ryan Tannehill led the NFL with a career-best 117.5 passer rating and by averaging 9.6 yards per pass attempt. But he didn’t do a whole lot Saturday night in his first postseason game: 8 of 15 for 72 yards.
Tannehill’s passing yards were the fewest for a starter since the Ravens’ Joe Flacco had 34 in a wild-card win against the Patriots 10 years ago.
Texans 22, Bills 19 (OT)
In Houston, Deshaun Watson’s teammates talked all week about how they never feel as if they’re out of any game when No. 4 is on the field.
On Saturday Watson showed why the Texans have so much trust in him.
Watson spun out of a would-be sack and coolly completed a pass that set up the winning field goal in overtime as the Texans rallied from a double-digit deficit in the second half for a victory over the Buffalo Bills in the first round of the playoffs.
DeAndre Hopkins was asked to describe Watson’s play on Saturday to somebody who might have missed the game.
“I hope everyone watched this today, but he’s amazing,” Hopkins said. “You can’t put too many words on it.”
Both teams punted on their first possessions of overtime — the first extra period in an AFC wild-card game since January 2012. On Houston’s next drive, Watson evaded a sack by wriggling away from one defender and bouncing off another before rolling out to find Taiwan Jones for a 34-yard reception to set up first-and-goal.
Watson flexed both arms as the crowd at NRG Stadium went wild — knowing their team was in position to pull off another comeback win to add to Houston’s playoff history.
“I told myself to stay up. I mean, it’s do-or-die now. I just had to make the play,” Watson said.
Ka’imi Fairbairn then kicked a 28-yard field goal to lift Houston to the victory.
The Texans (11-6) advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs where they’ll face the Kansas City Chiefs.
Houston got a boost from the return of J.J. Watt, who had a sack that helped spark his team.
The Texans scored 19 straight points to take the lead before Stephen Hauschka’s 47-yard field goal tied it with 5 seconds left to force overtime.
“We never quit, regardless,” Watson said. “Whatever it takes to get the win. I mean, we’re going to keep fighting.”
Watt was wowed by the play of Watson.
“The play he made at the end of the game — nobody makes that play,” he said. “The guy’s unbelievable. I’m very thankful and lucky to have him as my quarterback. That’s why you play the whole game.”