The New England Patriots entered Sunday’s contest with the Tennessee Titans riding a six-game win streak. Fresh off of a victory over the Aaron Rodgers’ led Green Bay Packers, the team was starting to look like the same old Patriots. Despite an early-season sputter, the Patriots looked poised to march through November and December as they have so many times before. Patriots fans had every reason to feel confident heading into their bye week.
However, as Santino ’Sonny’ Corleone once told Tom Hagen in The Godfather, ”Not this time, Consigliere.”
Enter the Tennessee Titans…and ’Remember the Titans,’ the Pats will.
Tennessee dominated this Week 10 contest from start to finish. The result was a 34-10 drubbing of the Patriots on Sunday at Nissan Stadium. The Titans never trailed. They took control early, and never looked back.
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 16-of-24 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Corey Davis caught seven passes for 125 yards in the contest, and running back Derrick Henry ran for two touchdowns.
On the flip side, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady completed 21-of-41 passes for 254 yards and receiver Julian Edelman had nine receptions for 104 yards. However, the Patriots were thoroughly dominated in every phase of the game.
In short, the Pats were doomed right from the start. Darius Jennings started the game by returning the opening kickoff 58 yards. This put the Titans in good field position, at the New England 40. Just seven plays later, Mariota connected with tight end Jonnu Smith for a four-yard touchdown pass to give the Titans a 7-0 lead on their opening drive. The Patriots cut the lead to 7-3 on a 52-yard field goal by kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
The Titans increased their lead to 14-3 on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to Davis. The touchdown capped off a nine-play, 78-yard drive. The Titans would soon add to their lead on a 33-yard field goal by kicker Ryan Succop, which made the score 17-3.
The Patriots were in need of points, and Brady and company put together their best drive of the game. They would cut the lead to 17-10 on a one-yard touchdown run by fullback James Develin.The Patriots were within one touchdown of tying the game. However, they would not light the scoreboard for the rest of the afternoon.
Conversely, the Titans stole the momentum back before just before halftime. Derrick Henry scored on a one-yard touchdown run with 1:09 left in the second quarter to make it 24-10. Henry’s run capped off an eight-play, 37-yard drive that included a big third down catch to tight end Anthony Firkser.
The Patriots fortunes did not improve in the second half. The Titans stretched their lead to 27-10 on a 31-yard field goal, which came with 4:15 left in the third quarter. Then came another scoring drive for the Titans, which was capped off by another run by Henry – this one from 10 yards, from the Wildcat. That score made it 34-10, which would untimately be the final score.
The Titans Defense pressured Brady, and made him look uncomfortable in the first half. The pressure continued into the second half, as Brady was seemingly unable to find a clean pocket. He was uncharacteristically inaccurate, and was held without a touchdown for the second time in three games. Brady was replaced late in the fourth quarter by backup Brian Hoyer, once it was clear that the game was beyond the team’s reach.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots looked flat and sluggish for the majority of the afternoon. The front seven failed to place consistent pressure on Mariota. At times, they showed flashes of their stout defensive performance against the Packers just one week ago. However, the secondary struggled in coverage. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore was beaten more often than not, as was safety Patrick Chung. In the end, one chunk play too many proved to be too costly. With the loss, the Patriots drop to 7-3 on the 2018 season.
Heading into Week 10, the Patriots were looking like a team on the presepus of putting it all together. As they head toward the bye week, they now look like a team with some questions that still need to be answered.
PATRIOTS INJURY NEWS:
Late in the fourth quarter, Julian Edelman headed to the locker room for evaluation on what was described as a ‘foot/ankle’ injury. He is expected to be evaluated this week, but was available to the media following the game.
Left tackle Trent Brown was hurt twice during the game, leaving for good when he injured his back in the third quarter. Tight end Dwayne Allen also hurt his knee in the third quarter.
Coming out of their bye-week, the Patriots will travel to MetLife Stadium in New Jersey to take on the New York Jets on Sunday, November 25, 2018.
-Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and National Columnist for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the New England Patriots and the NFL. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC