By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Titans headed into Week 11 on the highest of notes, buzzing big-time after delivering a 34-10 curb-stomping to the Patriots last Sunday. They danced on the Patriots’ graves, too, and the national media followed suit.
As everyone should have seen coming, the Titans followed up that triumph with a massive letdown. After the Titans hit the road to Indianapolis, the Colts blew them off the Lucas Oil Stadium field with a 38-10 thumping of their own on Sunday. Andrew Luck threw for 297 yards and three touchdowns for a 148.3 passer rating, while the Titans managed just 263 total yards of offense in a game that quarterback Marcus Mariota had to leave early with an elbow injury.
It’s far from unprecedented for NFL teams to lay an egg the week after big, emotional wins. This loss for the Titans would certainly fall into that category. But it’s also the continuation of an odd trend for Patriots opponents this season. The three teams that have beaten the Pats this season – the Jaguars, Lions, and Titans – are a combined 4-12 since those wins.
Considering the relative lack of recent success in those organizations, maybe it’s not so odd. But you can add the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles to that mix, too. They look to be in danger of missing the playoffs after falling to 4-6 on Sunday, getting blown out themselves by the Saints to the tune of 48-7 in New Orleans.
This doesn’t change much about the Patriots’ performance in that Tennessee loss. It doesn’t make either team look any better or worse. The Pats still need to play better on the road and show more consistency on offense, especially away from Foxborough. But it does makes Sunday’s debacle look more like a one-off dud than a trend toward what to expect down the stretch.
Clearly, many underestimated the motivation factor for the Titans. Starting at the top with head coach Mike Vrabel, several key figures on that team had good reason to put together a complete, excellent effort in that particular game against their former club.
Obviously, the Titans weren’t quite ready to play with the consistency of a real Super Bowl contender. More than anything else, the past two weeks for Tennessee are the latest example of how hard it is to be consistently good in the NFL, from both week-to-week and season-to-season.
The Patriots’ sustained success in the Brady-Belichick era, regardless of how talented they look in a given season or what happens to the competition around them, is what makes their run so impressive. Five Super Bowls are what they are, but look like an even greater accomplishment when you factor in that the Pats never have season-long regressions. They’ve pretty much always been in the Super Bowl mix since launching their dynasty in 2001.
Belichick’s Patriots are also typically consistent from game-to-game, regardless of outcome. Teams may get the best of them, but not as convincingly as the Titans just did. No-shows like last Sunday in Tennessee are super-rare, which makes them more jarring when they do happen.
It’s not as uncommon for teams like the Titans, who can’t seem to keep it together for even two weeks at a time, let alone two seasons. Tennessee started the season with a loss, then won three in a row, then lost three in a row before beating the Patriots. Now they’re 5-5 and on the outside looking in, with the Ravens holding the sixth and final AFC playoff seed entering Week 12.
But congratulations are still in order for them, because they’ve already won the Super Bowl. In Week 10.
Apparently, they’ve also accepted the effects of the curse that comes with beating the Patriots.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.