The New England Patriots took care of the Tennessee Titans like they should have, winning 33-16. All in all a pretty convincing victory for the Pats. They used a balanced attack on offense and the defense played well all game. With the win, New England moves to 12-2 and stays in first place in the AFC. It wasn’t a monster day for anyone on the offensive side. Tom Brady put up pedestrian numbers with 267 yards and a pair of TD’s. The first drive for the offense was one of the easiest I’ve seen in a while, with Brady connecting with Rob Gronkowski for a five yard pitch and catch for a touchdown. On that drive, Brandon Bolden rushed for 20 of his 36 yards. Also in the running game, Joey Iosefa, a bruising running back from Hawaii punished the Titans for 51 yards on 14 carries, including a rather impressive truck stick of a Tennessee defender. Other than the touchdown for Gronk, he was relatively held in check for just five catches for 54 yards. Brandon LaFell had a solid day with 88 yards on four catches, just as Tyler predicted.
Brady’s other touchdown went to James White, who caught a screen pass and went 30 yards to the house for a TD. White actually led the Pats in receptions with seven and has done an admirable job of filling in for Dion Lewis, who’s out for the year.
Speaking of injuries, Brady was listed as questionable with an illness but managed to play the whole game. Julian Edelman was also questionable with his broken foot, but he didn’t play. Devin McCourty, who was injured last week, also didn’t see any action. Dont’a Hightower was removed from the game early on with a knee injury. Also on the defensive side, Patrick Chung was taken out with a hip injury after he got run over on a Delanie Walker catch and run for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Danny Amendola, who was silent all day, also left with a knee injury. Amendola quite frankly played like crap, with one catch for three yards and a fumble on a punt return, making it four straight weeks with a turnover on special teams for New England.
For the Titans, rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota had a tough day before being taken out with a knee injury, which is worst case scenario.
Mariota’s day was made tough due to a overall good day for the Pats defense. They racked up five sacks, including a Chandler Jones strip sack on Mariota, which Akiem Hicks fell on for a touchdown. Jones also added another sack later in the game on a bounce back game for him. Hicks himself had an impactful day, with a sack and a tackle for loss following a two sack week against Houston last Sunday night.
Also joining the sack party were Jabaal Sheard, who also had a two sack week last week, and Jamie Collins. Collins also had the game sealing interception with just over two minutes left in the game. Collins also paced the Patriots in tackles with eight, albeit he had a couple missed tackles.
The pass defense could have been a bit tighter as Dorial Green-Beckham had over 100 yards and dominated Logan Ryan all day. The run defense was stellar, allowing 59 rushing yards and not allowing any big runs and contained Marcus Mariota.
Malcolm Butler had an interception in the end zone, promptly ending a Tennessee drive. Butler actually had an interception called back due to a penalty on the Patriots earlier in the drive.
The special teams was once again an embarrassment, as aside from Amendola’s fumble, Ryan Allen had a tough day punting the ball. Stephen Gostkowski had his second missed field goal of the season and hit the upright on another attempt. On a positive note, Keshawn Martin had an electric 75 yard kickoff return.
The Pats won this game handedly. It wasn’t an overall dominating performance, but for the second week in a row the defense outplayed the offense. Constant pressure and stopping the run has become the M.O. of this Patriots defense. I know it was against lesser competition, but the pass rush was excellent. In the playoffs, they’ll have to keep their energy up against the better teams in the NFL. The regular season finale in Foxborough went just as planned, and now were on to the 9-5 division rival New York Jets.
Photo via Patriots.com
Stats via ESPN