NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Dion Lewis passed off the Titans-Patriots clash as just another part of the schedule in the week leading up to Sunday's meeting, but after his 68 total yards of offense helped Tennessee thrash his old team, the veteran running back didn't pull any punches in assessing his previous situation with New England.
"I didn't have to prove anything," Lewis told NFL Network after Tennessee's 34-10 blowout victory. "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 'em have it and they'll fold."
Despite Lewis finishing with 1,110 total yards of offense in 2017, the Patriots allowed him to walk via free agency in the offseason. The Titans took a shot with him, signing Lewis to a four-year contract worth $19.8 million. And on Sunday, he didn't hold back about beating the Patriots.
"Hell yeah, it's personal," the 28-year-old said. "When you go cheap, you get your ass kicked."
Cornerback Malcolm Butler, whose departure from New England was even more controversial, also seemed to take some extra satisfaction in beating the Pats.
"We want to beat everybody, but this one right here was a little more satisfying," said Butler, who was benched in Super Bowl LII, his final game with New England.
The veteran cornerback admitted the Super Bowl benching was in the back of his mind during the week leading up to the game, but he said it's something he got over a while ago. Earlier in the week, Butler said there wasn't any bad blood, and he planned to mirror whatever greeting Patriots coach Bill Belichick had for him before the game. They didn't get to exchange pleasantries before kickoff, but Butler and Belichick crossed paths afterward.
Added Butler, "He said he appreciated me playing for him for four years, and I said the same thing back. He told me good luck on the rest of the season and told me to keep fighting like he knows I will."
After being in a slump to start his career in Tennessee, Butler feels better days are ahead after this game.
"I'm trying to turn things around. I just have to stay consistent and be disciplined and be hungry and fast. I think I turned the corner," Butler said. "It's a mindset. I did things different at home and in the film room. I focused more in film study and rested more."