Patriots

Patriots

You've probably seen the play hundreds of times by now.

Late in the Titans' AFC Wild Card playoff matchup against the New England Patriots, Tennessee took nearly two minutes off the clock by committing multiple dead-ball penalties while in punt formation on fourth down.

This may have been Mike Vrabel's way of giving Bill Belichick a taste of his own medicine, considering Belichick had gleefully exploited the same clock loophole earlier in the season against the New York Jets.

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So, did the Titans coach (and ex-Patriots linebacker) relish in sticking it to his former head coach? Vrabel gave a diplomatic answer to NFL Network's Dan Hellie on the "Helliepod" podcast -- but admitted he was aware that Belichick wasn't happy his tactics.

According to Vrabel, Titans assistant John Streicher -- better known as "Stretch" -- spotted an irate Belichick from Tennessee's press box.

"Stretch does a fantastic job upstairs. He's committed to being my eyes upstairs ... He's like, 'You've got to see Bill. Bill's losing his mind,' " Vrabel said.

The broadcast footage does, in fact, show the normally stoic Belichick "losing his mind" as the Titans milk precious seconds off the clock.

Vrabel said he tried not to get distracted by showing up his former boss, however.

"It's all relative, you know what I mean?," Vrabel said. "I was like, 'Hey, we've got to finish this game off and we'll see what happens.' It was only done four times last year. It's got to be the right situation. I would have gone for it (on fourth down) but we lost like five yards on third down."

 

Vrabel knows better than to rub this in any further, especially considering his Titans dealt Belichick's Patriots a 20-13 loss. The Titans head coach also will be the last one to exploit this loophole, as the NFL approved a rule change this offseason to prevent teams from committing consecutive dead-ball penalties.

But it had to feel pretty good for Vrabel to beat Belichick at his own game -- even if he won't admit it.