Patriots end Titans' magical playoff run

Published: Monday, January 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 1, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The New England Patriots wanted to head into the postseason on a roll. Mission accomplished.

Corey Dillon ran for two touchdowns and Tom Brady threw for a TD, as New England stopped the Titans' magical run at NFL history by beating them 40-23 Sunday.

The Titans (8-8) had won six straight games and needed to beat New England and hope Jacksonville, Cincinnati and Denver all lost. All three teams did just that.

But the Titans proved no match against the Patriots (12-4), who wanted momentum before hosting the New York Jets in a wild-card game next weekend.

New England took control by scoring 19 straight points, and the defense sacked Vince Young five times, forced him into three turnovers.

The game was in control enough that 43-year-old Vinny Testaverde got it for the final few snaps, and he tossed a 6-yard TD pass to set an NFL record with at least one TD in 20 straight seasons.

The Titans wanted to become the first NFL team to start 0-5 and reach the playoffs. Coach Jeff Fisher did what he could by keeping the Jacksonville and Cincinnati scores off the scoreboards.

Announcing the scores of those games late in the third quarter didn't help. Brady hit Reche Caldwell on the next play for a 62-yard TD and a 26-13 lead.

The young Titans had been covering up their mistakes and inexperience with big plays during this incredible streak. They got an 81-yard punt return by Adam "Pacman" Jones just before halftime, and Young ran 28 yards on third-and-3 in the third quarter to pull within 26-23.

But the Titans finally ran out of the magic that helped them pull out four comeback victories.

Travis Henry ran for 98 yards on 12 carries in the first half against a defense that had been among the NFL's best, allowing only 91.5 per game. Henry finished with 102 yards on 21 carries.

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