|New England Patriots||3||7||0||0||10|
Mike Vrabel, Logan Ryan, Malcolm Butler, and Dion Lewis showed up their old boss Billy B In one of the more baffling regular season losses I’ve ever seen (up there with the loss to the Browns in 2010). The Patriots were simply manhandled on the road by a more physical, hungrier team The Titans set the tone from the opening kick-off, which was returned by Darius Jennings 58 yards to the Patriots 40. A 24 yard pass to Corey Davis got the Titans into the redzone and six plays later Marcus Mariota hit Jonnu Smith for a 4-yard TD and the lead.
On the ensuing drive, Brady threw a 44-yard dime to Josh Gordon on 3rd and 13, but the Patriots would gain only two more yards and settled for a 52-yard FG. The Titans then marched 77-yards in 9 plays, powered by strong running from Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry. The Titans never faced a 3rd down, and Corey Davis capped the drive off by beating Stephon Gilmore for a 23-yard touchdown (despite DPI on the play). 14-3 Titans, only midway through the first quarter…what on earth was going on?!?!
On the next drive, the Patriots lost 9 yards on 3 plays and immediately punted the ball back, and Adoree’ returned the ball to the NE49. Mariota threw a 29-yard pass on the next play, and while Gilmore forced a fumble, the ball harmlessly went out of bounds at the NE15. The Patriots defense finally stiffened, however, and the Titans gained only 5 more yards before they settled for a chip shot FG, and a 17-3 lead. Brady finally got into a rhythm on the next drive, hitting Edelman for 29 yards and Josh Gordon for 14 to get the Patriots into the redzone. 3 plays later, and facing a 4th and 2 from the 12, Brady converted with an 11-yard pass to James White. James Develin capped-off the 10 play, 75-yard drive with a one yard touchdown, and the Patriots cut the deficit to 17-10.
Sensing shifting momentum the Patriots defense stepped-up and forced a 3-and-out. Then on the first play of the next drive, Brady hit Edelman for 30 yards to get the Patriots to the TEN40. But this was not the Patriots day – the drive stalled after 3 plays netted 6 yards, and Gostkowski missed the 52-yard FG. The Titans gained only 13 yards and were forced to punt, but they pinned the Patriots on the NE9. Following a quick 3-and-out, good punt return, and tacked-on penalty, the Titans were setup at the NE37. Despite an Elandon Roberts sack on 1st down, Mariota found Davis for 20 yards on 3rd and 14. After Mariota converted again on 3rd down, with an 11-yard pass to Anthony Firkser, Henry capped off the 8 play 37-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run. The Patriots got the ball back with 1:09 in the half, but only reached the TEN43 before running out of time in the half. 24-10 Titans at the break.
The Patriots received the second half kick-off, but immediately went 3-and-out after losing 4 yards. The Titans fared no better, punting the ball right back. The Patriots then began driving, aided by a 23-yard strike from Brady to Gordon, but stalled after reaching the TEN41 and were forced to punt. Despite pinning the Titans at their own 9, the Titans answered with a 10 play, 88-yard drive featuring the best of Mariota’s throwing and scrambling. The Titans eventually stalled at the NE13, but the ensuing field goal gave them a 27-10 second half lead. The Patriots continued to sputter and punted after only gaining one first down, although their defense managed to get them the ball back after Gilmore sacked Mariota on 3rd down. Trailing by 17 in the 4th quarter on the road, the Patriots dug into their bag of tricks.
After reaching the TEN43, and facing 3rd and 7, the Patriots tried a redux of the unsuccessful WR-to-Brady pass from SB52. Brady managed to catch the pass (from Edelman) this time around, but tripped over his laces and fell down one-yard short of the first down. Making matters even worse, Brady (reportedly) sprained his MCL on the play, which would noticeably affect his play in the following few weeks. In a microcosm of the day, Marcus Cannon subsequently false-started, turning the 4th and 1 into a 4th and 6, and Brady’s pass to Edelman fells incomplete. Titans ball. Vrabel, seeing a chance to stick-it to his old coach, ran a WR-to-Mariota pass (thrown by Jennings). The Titans version worked better – Mariota gained 21 yards on the catch-and-run. Henry took it the rest of the way, gaining the final 37-yards on 5 rushes, the last of which was a 10-yard direct, snap touchdown. 34-10 Titans and the rout was on.
The Patriots, acknowledging defeat, pulled Brady with the teams alternating punts and runs until the clock read 0:00. The shellacking abruptly ended the Patriots 6-game winning streak, and left a sour-taste heading into the bye week. The Titans ex-Pats, and particularly Dion Lewis, took pride in roughing up their old team with some outspoken / jubilatory quotes post-game. The Patriots road-woes also continued, as they fell to 2-3 away from Gillette.