NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry ran 34 times for 182 yards and a touchdown on his 26th birthday and former Patriot Logan Ryan returned an interception of Brady nine yards for a touchdown with nine seconds remaining for the final points to seal New England's fate.
“We were just locked in,” Henry said. “We wanted it. It's a great win against a great team in a hostile environment. I'm just happy we could advance. A great team win.”
Brady, a 42-year-old quarterback who is now a free agent, could not guide the Patriots to a second-half score against a Titans defensive unit overseen by Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel, a linebacker on three Super Bowl champions with New England.
After completing 20-of-37 passes for 209 yards, Brady said it was “pretty unlikely” he would retire even though he turns 43 before next season opens.
“Who knows what the future holds. Let's leave it at that,” Brady said. “I don't know what the future looks like. I'm not going to predict it.”
The Titans advanced to a second-round matchup next Saturday (Jan 11) at American Conference top seed Baltimore while Houston will travel to second seed Kansas City next Sunday (Jan 12). Both hosts had first-round byes.
Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson ran for one touchdown, threw for another and made a stunning play to set up Ka'imi Fairbairn game-winning 28-yard field goal 11:40 into over-time as the Texans beat visiting Buffalo 22-19.
Henry scored on a 1-yard run with 38 seconds remaining in the second quarter as the Titans edged ahead 14-13 at half-time, a margin they maintained until the final seconds as the game hung on a knife's edge.
Tennessee erased eight minutes of the fourth quarter with a failed drive then stopped the Pats on only four plays before forcing a punt and pinning New England at the 1-yard line with 15 seconds remaining, setting the stage for the pivotal pickoff score.
New England's Nick Folk opened the scoring with a 36-yard field goal but the Titans answered with a 75-yard drive capped by Ryan Tannehill's 12-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Firkser.
Brady responded by moving New England 75 yards in 10 plays, the Patriots retaking the lead 10-7 thanks to Julian Edelman's 5-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter.
New England drove to the Tennessee 1 but Titan defenders forced the hosts to settle for a 21-yard Folk field goal 2:16 before half-time.
Texans rally to win
At Houston, Watson escaped two Bills defenders and flipped a short pass to Taiwan Jones, who ran 34 yards to the Buffalo 10-yard line on the play before Fairbairn's game winner.
“Will, guts, grit - everything. They got to me but I stayed up,” Watson said.
“Man, just never quit. honestly. I just told myself to stay up. It's do or die right now. All the work I put in in the off-season, I had to get it done.”
Watson was sacked seven times but completed 20-of-25 passes for 247 yards, ran 14 times for 55 yards and rallied the Texans from a 16-0 deficit, the first time in 23 tries under coach Bill O'Brien that Houston had escaped so huge a hole to win.
“I knew somebody had to be great. I said, 'Why not me?'” Watson said.
“We never quit. Whatever it takes to get the win, we keep fighting and we will always give our best.”
Buffalo's Stephen Hauschka kicked his fourth field goal of the day from 47 yards with five seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to pull the Bills level at 19-19 and set up over-time.
The Bills seized a 13-0 half-time edge, highlighted by quarterback Josh Allen catching a 16-yard touchdown pass on a trick play on Buffalo's opening drive, but could not capture their first playoff victory since 1995.
Buffalo led 16-0 but Fairbairn kicked a field goal off a turnover and Watson scored on a 20-yard touchdown run, dragging two defenders the last six yards, and flipped a 5-yard touchdown pass to Carlos Hyde.
Watson threw and ran for 2-point conversions after each touchdown and Houston led until Hauschka forced over-time.
Vikings upset Saints, Seahawks oust Eagles
Minnesota's Kirk Cousins threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph 4:20 into over-time yesterday (Jan 5) and the Vikings upset New Orleans 26-20 to reach the second round of the NFL playoffs.
The Vikings quarterback achieved his first career playoff victory by marching Minnesota 75 yards in nine plays, sparked by his 43-yard completion to Adam Thielen to the Saints 2-yard line three plays before the winning touchdown throw.
“Just happy we won. It was a great game. It was a great team win,” said Cousins after his 14th career game-winning late drive.
Minnesota's Dalvin Cook ran 28 times for 94 yards and two touchdowns for the visiting Vikings, who will travel to National Conference top seed San Francisco next Saturday (Jan 11).
Seattle defeated host Philadelphia 17-9 in yesterday’s other first-round playoff game to book a date next Sunday (Jan 12) at National Conference second seed Green Bay.
“Anticipating snow. Anticipating a great game,” Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said of Green Bay. “It'll be a great matchup.”
Next weekend's American Conference games find Tennessee at top seed Baltimore on Saturday (Jan 11) and Houston at second seed Kansas City on Sunday (Jan 12). Next week's hosts had first-round byes.
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, 10 days shy of his 41st birthday, completed 26-of-33 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown but costly turnovers foiled the favored Saints.
“I'm so proud of the way we fought,” Rudolph said. “Nobody gave us a chance to win today but us.”
Cook's 1-yard touchdown run with 3:23 remaining in the third quarter capped an eight-play, 64-yard march to give Minnesota a 20-10 lead.
But the Saints answered with an 85-yard drive in eight plays, which ended on a 20-yard Brees touchdown pass to Taysom Hill with 10:31 remaining, pulling New Orleans within 20-17. Brees went 5-for-5 passing for 71 yards in the scoring march.
Brees moved the Saints downfield again but Jamaican-born Danielle Hunter of the Vikings knocked loose a fumble, Brees's first of the season, and Minnesota's Jalyn Holmes recovered with 4:18 remaining.
Saints defender A.J. Klein appeared to have recovered a Cook fumble and returned it for a touchdown on the next Vikings possession, but a video review overturned the play, ruling Cook was down before losing the ball, keeping Minnesota ahead.
New Orleans had a final chance in regulation time and Wil Lutz kicked a 49-yard field goal with two seconds remaining to pull the Saints level at 20-20 and force over-time.
Cook's 5-yard touchdown run with 23 seconds remaining in the second quarter gave the Vikings a 13-10 half-time lead. Alvin Kamara had a 4-yard touchdown run for New Orleans. Lutz had kicked a 29-yard field goal and Minnesota's Dan Bailey had field goals of 43 and 21 yards.
Seahawks down Eagles
At Philadelphia, the Eagles suffered a major setback when quarterback Carson Wentz went out in the first quarter after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit from Seattle's Jadeveon Clowney.
“We knew we had to step it up in the playoffs," Clowney said. "We knew we had to stop them up front.”
Josh McCown, a 17-year NFL veteran who had retired and worked as a TV commentator before returning to the Eagles at age 40, made his playoff field debut by replacing Wentz, who missed the end of Philadelphia's two prior campaigns after knee and back injuries.
A 5-yard touchdown run by Seattle's Marshawn Lynch with 66 seconds remaining in the second quarter lifted the Seahawks to a 10-3 half-time lead.
Seattle's Jason Myers had kicked a 49-yard field goal to open the scoring but Jake Elliott answered with a 46-yard kick for Philadelphia.
Elliott added a 26-yard field goal on the first Eagles drive of the third quarter but the Seahawks answered when Russell Wilson connected with D.K. Metcalf on a 53-yard touchdown pass to give Seattle a 17-6 advantage.
Wilson completed 18-of-30 passes for 325 yards.
“We stayed consistent. We answered the call,” Wilson said. “More than anything else we believe - there's no doubt in us.”
Elliott added a 38-yard field goal later in the third quarter but the Eagles failed twice on fourth downs deep in Seattle territory in the fourth quarter to surrender the ball and Seattle ran out the clock to seal the victory.