Ryan L. Fox
A bye week is a time where teams take the time to regroup, refocus, and prepare themselves for what would be the ‘second half’ of their season. For the New England Patriots, the having the bye week during the latter part of the season (during Week 11 to be precise) would help them heal up their injured players and get ready for the postseason push. But before taking the week off, they had to travel down to Nashville, Tennessee to take on the Tennessee Titans.
However waiting for them in Nashville were a slew of former Patriots players and personnel, including RB Dion Lewis, CBs Logan Ryan and Malcom Butler, and former LB turned head coach Mike Vrabel. When the final gun sound, the Patriots ended up going into the bye week limping and licking their wounds after suffering their worse loss of the season.
The Patriots opened the game by kicking off to the Titans. Titans KR Darius Jennings got the ball at his own 2 before taking all the way to the New England 40, giving his offense terrific field position. On their first offensive play, QB Marcus Mariota found WR Corey Davis deep for a 24 yard pass down to the New England 16. Then it was RB Dion Lewis taking the ball all the way down to the New England 4. From there on 3rd and goal at the 4, Mariota found TE Jonnu Smith for pay dirt. The PAT by K Ryan Succop was good, giving the Titans the early 7-0 lead.
Succop then booted the ball out of the end zone, giving the Patriots their first possession of the game at their own 25. Patriots QB Tom Brady was able to lead the offense down the field, getting most of the yardage with a 44 yard pass to WR Josh Gordon down to the Tennessee 34. However the drive ended up stalling as the Patriots had to settle for a 52 yard field goal by K Stephen Gostkowski to making it 7-3.
The Titans got the ball back at their own 25 before marching down the field yet again. Looking composed in the pocket, Mariota bombarded the Patriots defense with deep passes while Lewis gouged them on the ground. They got down to the New England 23 where on 2nd and 15, Mariota found Davis in the end zone for a 23 yard touchdown pass. Succop’s PAT then made it 14-3 with a little under 6 minutes left in the quarter.
After forcing the Patriots to punt, the Titans got the ball back. However they caught 2 lucky breaks on their 3rd possession of the game.
First during the punt return, Titans PR Adoree’ Jackson received the punt at his own 36 before bringing the ball back to the Tennessee 49. The ball was temporarily knocked out his possession by Patriots FB James Devlin, only for Jackson to recover it at the New England 49. Then on the next play, Mariota hooked up with Smith for a 29 yard pass down to the New England 20. The ball was then knocked out of Smith’s possession by CB Stephon Gilmore only for the ball to go out of bounds at the New England 20. Fortunately for the Patriots defense, they were able to hold the Titans offense at the 15. Succop then came on to boot a 33 yard field goal, extending the Titans lead to 17-3.
Needing a score before the game got out of hand, the Patriots got the ball back on their 25 before driving all the way down to the Tennessee 17 as the 1st quarter came to a close.
When the 2nd quarter began, the Patriots continued their drive down to the Tennessee 12. There on 4th and 1, Brady found RB James White for an 11 yard pass down to the Tennessee 1. Two plays later, Develin pounded the ball over the goal line for the 1 yard score. Gostkowski booted the PAT through as the Patriots made it 17-10.
After forcing the Titans to punt, the Patriots got the ball back at their own 12 as Edelman returned the ball to their own 30. From there, Brady opened things up with a 30 yard pass to Edelman down to the Tennessee 40. The offense, however, got only as far as the Tennessee 34 afterwards. Gostkowski then set up for a 52 yard field goal attempt but the kick ended up going wide left.
The Titans got the ball back on their own 42, getting as far as the New England 45 before punting the ball down to the New England 9. The Patriots offense was then smothered by the Titans defense, being forced to punt as Jackson returned the ball back to the New England 42. A 5 yard Ineligible Downfield Kick on Patriots WR Chris Hogan then put the ball on the New England 37, giving the Titans perfect field position.
The Titans were able to move the ball, converting two key 3rd downs along the way, before getting down to the New England 2. From there, it took two rushing attempts by RB Derrick Henry for the rushing touchdown. Succop’s PAT afterwards then made it 24-10 with a little over 1 minute left in the half.
The Patriots got the ball back on their own 25 as Brady and the offense attempted to get one last score before the end of the half. The got as far as the Tennessee 43 but on 3rd and 10 with 2 seconds left, Titans CB Logan Ryan sacked Brady back at the New England 49 to end the half.
The 2nd half of the game opened up with both teams exchanging punts with one another. It wasn’t until the Titans’ second possession of the half where they got their first sustained drive.
The received a New England punt at their own 9 before then driving almost the length of the entire field. Mariota kept the defense on its heels with both his arms and his legs, leading the Titans offense all the way down to the New England 13. However the Patriots’ red zone defense held as the Titans had to settle for a Succop 31 yard field goal to extend their lead to 27-10.
After forcing another Patriots punt, the Titans got the ball back on their own 20. The offense got as far as their own 33 as the quarter came to a close.
When the 4th quarter opened up, the Titans drove up to their own 41. But then on 3rd and short, Mariota was sacked by Gilmore back at the Tennessee 34. The Titans were forced to punt as the Patriots got the ball back on their own 25.
From there, Brady led the offense down the field down and into Tennessee territory. The offense was able to get as far as the Tennessee 37 as on 4th and 1, they looked to go for it. A false start on RT Marcus Cannon pushed the ball back to the Tennessee 41, making it 4th and 6. Brady’s pass to Edelman fell incomplete as the Patriots ended up turning the ball over on downs to the Titans.
The Titans took over at their own 42 as Mariota opened things up with a 21 yard pass to Jennings to the New England 37. From there, Henry carried the ball all the way down to the New England 10. From there, Henry bowled his way up the middle of the Patriots defense for the touchdown. Succop’s PAT then made it 34-10 with a little over 7 minutes left in the game.
The Patriots then received the ensuing kickoff as Patterson returned it to the New England 19. With the game out of reach, Patriots coach Bill Belichick pulled Brady from the game and replaced him with back up Brian Hoyer. But even with the change at quarterback, the Patriots offense couldn’t muster a drive and were forced to punt yet again.
The Titans got the ball back at their own 10 as they proceeded to simply run the clock down as much as possible. The Titans only got as far as their own 16 but were able to run the clock down to 2:18 before punting the ball to the New England 34.
From there, the Patriots just kept the ball on the ground to run out the clock for the remainder of the game. When the clock reached 00:00, the Patriots not only suffered their worst loss of the season but also went into the bye week with their 6-game winning streak snapped as well.
Notable Patriot Statistical Standouts
QB Tom Brady: 21-for-41 for 254 yards for a QB Rating of 70.6, 1 carries for 0 yards, 1 reception (on 1 target) for 6 yards
WR Josh Gordon: 4 catches (on 12 targets) for 81 yards
WR Julian Edelman: 1-for-1 for 6 yards for a QB rating of 91.7, 9 catches (on 13 targets) for 104 yards, 2 punt returns for 30 yards
P Ryan Allen: 6 punts carries for 298 yards (49.7 yards per kick), 2 punts in the 20, and 1 touchback
LB Kyle Van Noy: 13 tackles (5 solo, 8 assist)
LB Elandon Roberts: 6 tackles (4 solo, 2 assist), 1.0 sacks
CB Stephon Gilmore: 4 tackles (4 solo, 0 assist), 1.0 sacks, 1 forced fumbles
Numbers! Numbers! Numbers!
17 – The number of points the Patriots defense let up in the 1st quarter, the most since Week 12 against the Denver Broncos in the 2013 season
.737 – The winning percentage of the Patriots under Coach Bill Belichick in games before the bye week (14-5)
6 - The amount of receiving yard QB Tom Brady accumulated on a pass from teammate WR Julian Edelman, making him the oldest NFL player since HOFer WR Jerry Rice to catch a pass in a game
0 – The number of passing TDs Brady threw for the game, the 2nd time that has happened this season
16 – The number of first downs the Patriots offense accumulated for the game, the lowest since their Week 3 loss to the Detroit Lions
385– Total number of yards allowed by the Patriots defense, the 7th time this season they allowed an opponent to accumulated 350 yards or more
Home vs. Away
That’s been the story line of the season that has been the talk of the town. There has been a clear difference when the Patriots are playing in front of the home crowd compared to playing on the road.
In 5 games at home, the Patriots are sporting a perfect 5-0 record. On offense, the Patriots are averaging 441.8 yards on offense per game and scoring an average of 35.4 points per game. On defense, the Patriots are holding opposing offenses to 349.8 yards per game and 21.6 points per game.
But the road, the Patriots are a completely different team. They are sporting a 2-3 record on the road On offense, they are averaging 312.6 yards per game and scored an average of 20.6 points per game, including 2 games where they scored 10 points (Week 3 @ Detroit and Week 10 @ Tennessee). On the opposite side of the ball, the Patriots defense are giving up 413 yards per game and allowing opposing offenses to score 25.6 point per game.
So why is there such a big difference between the Patriots playing at home and on the road this season compared to seasons’ past? Is it because of travel fatigue? Unfamiliarity of where they are playing?
Luckily with the bye week next week, it’ll give the Patriots 2 weeks to figure out this home-road conundrum before it costs them a key playoff seed later down the road.
Fox Fist Bump
This week’s Fox Fist Bump goes to CB Stephon Gilmore. There was slim pickings this time around but Gilmore stood out the most. He forced a fumble in the 1st quarter that unfortunately bounced out of bounce plus he had a sack on Titans QB Marcus Mariota that killed a Titans drive.
The Meatball of the Week
This Meatball of the Week belongs to the entire Patriots team. First the defense allowed the Titans to go off to the tune of 385 total yards on offense and 35 points. Not to mention a couple of costly penalties that assisted the Titans offense, keeping scoring drives alive. Then with the offense, they looked out of sorts and out of rhythm. Not to mention that false start penalty on RT Marcus Cannon on 4th and short play killed a potential drive that could of help keep the game within reach for the Patriots.
Play of the Game
Hey Look, I Caught the Ball!
Read More 990WBOB
Unbiased, Unfiltered. WBOB's Original Reads feature our brightest and boldest personalities, offering their two-cents on the goings on of news, sports, politics, entertainment, and business. -- Are our opinions always PC? Nope. Are they always perfect? Nah. But, are they always 100% authentic? Absolutely!