NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Following a potential season-changing win in Dallas on Monday Night Football that featured an encouraging performance by Marcus Mariota and the offense, the Tennessee Titans returned home hoping to maintain their momentum.
The fast start was fueled by receiver Corey Davis, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2017 draft. He delivered big plays on the first two drives and finished with seven receptions for 125 yards and his first touchdown since September.
As the top receiving threat for Tennessee, Davis knew he was going to draw single coverage from Stephon Gilmore, the Patriots' best cornerback.
"I was expecting [Gilmore] to travel with me," Davis said. "The game plan was to attack whoever. It didn't matter who it was. We knew it was going to be a one-on-one matchup and the receivers had to win. Gilmore's a big, physical guy that's really patient and has great feet. I knew I had to be on top of my game and make plays."
Davis opened with a 24-yard reception from Mariota on Tennessee's first play from scrimmage. On the Titans' second series, Davis drew a 16-yard pass interference call against Gilmore, caught a 16-yard pass and capped the drive with a 23-yard TD on a deep fade from Mariota with a nifty over-the-shoulder catch.
Offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur has been moving Davis around the formation to create favorable matchups. As expected, Gilmore traveled with Davis everywhere he went Sunday, and that was the matchup the Titans wanted.
"I'll take my guy over anybody," Mariota said. "Corey did a great job of setting the play up, and he came down with the ball.”
Davis motioned across the formation, and when Gilmore went with him, indicating the Patriots were in man coverage, Davis released up the field and throttled down like he was running a curl route before accelerating toward the corner of the end zone.
Mariota showed touch and accuracy, launching before Davis was done selling the short route and allowing him to accelerate under the ball. Throwing so early in the route shows that a great deal of trust is starting to develop between Mariota and Davis.
And Davis is emerging as a thorn in the Patriots’ side. Including last season's playoff game, he has three touchdowns against New England in two games and just one in his other 20 NFL games.
He was at a loss to explain why the Patriots seem to bring out the best in him.
"I don't know honestly," he said. "I am going to play my game regardless of who is across from us. I guess it was just my day."
Much has been expected of Davis early in his career because of his draft status. The results haven't been instant, but his performance against the Patriots is an example of the potential that inspired Titans GM Jon Robinson to select him.
Davis, who has 43 catches for 576 yards and two TDs this season, says he relies on his faith for motivation as he finds his way early in his career.
"I am a faithful man," he said. "I don't care what the outside noise is. ... I have Isaiah 40:31 right here [a tattoo on his left arm]. 'Mount up by wings, fly like Eagles.' I love that one. My faith is huge, and that's what I rely on."