Joey Chaisson Staff Writer
The Patriots went into Nashville with a 7-2 record and got thoroughly outplayed by the 4-4 Titans resulting in a score of 34-10. The Pats were greeted by an array of ex-players like RB Dion Lewis, corners Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler, and head coach Mike Vrabel. The Patriots’ offense struggled to move the ball all afternoon and Tom Brady fell victim to a ruthless Titans defensive pass rush. On the other side of the ball, the Titans offense, led by Marcus Mariota, picked apart a weak Patriots’ defense. Here are a few key points from the game.
Student vs. Master – Newly appointed Tennessee head coach Mike Vrabel matched up against Bill Belichick for the first time on Sunday. From 2001-2008, Vrabel played linebacker under Belichick and helped the Patriots win three Super Bowls. Now, as a first-year head coach, Vrabel really took it to his former coach.
Gronk Absent Again – TE Rob Gronkowski was once again inactive for Sunday’s game after being inactive the week prior against Green Bay. Gronk has now missed 29 regular season games since he was drafted in 2010. The Patriots have posted a 22-7 record when he’s not on the field, but consistently fail to get production from the tight end position when he is inactive.
Dion Lewis: Revenge Tour – It was awesome to watch Dion Lewis again for an entire game. Lewis didn’t have a phenomenal afternoon per se, as he only racked up 58 yards on 20 carries, averaging just 2.8 yards per carry, but there were multiple occasions he made the Patriots defense look silly. After the game, the former Patriot called his old team “cheap” and then said, “it’s personal.”
Patriots’ Offense – QB Tom Brady certainly looked his age on Sunday. The 41-year-old played perhaps his worst game of the season thus far. For the second time this year Brady failed to find the end zone, and for the second week in a row, there was a point where he threw at least seven incomplete passes in a row. He would finish with 18 incompletions and was sacked 3 times, but it certainly felt like 12 was on his back at least 15 times. Certainly, a down day for the reigning MVP.
A Banged-Up Line – A wounded Patriots offensive line struggled immensely against Tennessee. Starting left tackle Trent Brown, who fought an illness all week and would miss most of the second half because of it. Starting right guard Shaq Mason was inactive from the start, and starting right tackle Marcus Cannon would leave the game right before the half. Brady was hit plenty of times in the pocket and the run game failed from the get-go because of poor line play.
The Passing Game – Julian Edelman led the charge for the Patriot pass catchers. He caught nine balls for 104 yards but was seen heading to the locker room with seven minutes left in the game. Josh Gordon had another productive day with 81 yards on four catches but failed to catch a couple balls in crucial moments of the game. For the second week in a row, Chris Hogan failed to register a catch and continues to not produce. Philip Dorsett caught two balls for just 18 yards. Not quite a down day for this receiving core, but it was nothing special either.
Final Analysis – The Patriots played a dismal game on both sides of the ball. The upside is that the Pats head into a much needed and awaited bye week. Ideally, when the team returns to action in week 12 against the Jets, they will have a healed offensive line as well as the return of Rob Gronkowski. In the coming weeks, the Patriots also expect to see the return of running back Rex Burkhead and the debut of rookie corner Duke Dawson. And although he was a healthy scratch on Sunday, the team expects to see the debut of newly acquired safety out of UCONN, Obi Melifonwu. At 7-3, the Patriots will slide down the weekly rankings chart but are still very much in the hunt for a playoff spot.