There was no love lost between Dion Lewis and the New England Patriots when the Tennessee Titans running back faced his former team on Sunday.
The Titans kept their playoffs hopes alive thanks to a surprising 34-10 win over the Patriots, which brought New England’s six-game winning run to an end.
Lewis recorded 68 yards from scrimmage, helping the Titans to secure a second consecutive win as they moved to 5-4, strengthening their grip on second place in the AFC South.
It was a particularly sweet result for Lewis, who was allowed to leave as a free agent during the offseason, despite recording 1,110 yards from scrimmage last season.
“It’s personal,” the 28-year-old was quoted as saying by the NFL Network after the game. “When you go cheap, you get your ass kicked.”
The veteran running back dismissed the notion that playing his former team gave him the chance to prove a point. “I didn’t have to prove anything,” he explained. “I know I can play. I just had to let our team know that these guys are beatable […] I know those guys. I know that you be physical with them and let them have it and they’ll fold.”
Lewis wasn’t the only former Patriot on the field on Sunday. Cornerback Malcolm Butler also left New England as a free agent, after being controversially benched during Super Bowl LII. In his third Super Bowl appearance, Butler did not play a single defensive snap in the game as the Patriots lost 41-33 to the Philadelphia Eagles.
“We want to beat everybody, but this one right here was a little more satisfying,” Butler said, according to ESPN.
After the Super Bowl, Patriots coach Bill Belichick admitted Butler’s omission had been a “coach’s decision” but the cornerback did not seem to harbor ill feelings for his former boss.
“He [Belichick] said he appreciated me playing for him for four years, and I said the same thing back,” the 28-year-old explained. “He told me good luck on the rest of the season and told me to keep fighting like he knows I will.”
Aside from Lewis and Butler the Titans also had a former Patriot on the touchline, in the shape of head coach Mike Vrabel, who played in New England between 2001 and 2008.
The 43-year-old was not the first former Patriot to beat the five-time Super Bowl winner as head coach this season. In Week 3, New England lost 26-10 to Matt Patricia’s Detroit Lions.
Patricia spent 13 years in Foxborough and was the Patriots’ defensive coordinator between 2012 and 2017, before being appointed as Lions head coach in February.
SOURCE: Newsweek – Dan Cancian