October 18, 2009
Patriots Enjoy Huge Winter Wonderland
BY: Bob George/BosSports.net
FOXBOROUGH -- The Tennessee Titans have been to these parts before in inclement weather. We know the Titans can handle freezing cold weather. Snow is a different story, it seems.
Keith Bulluck, the mouthy veteran linebacker for the Titans, was here in 2003 for the AFC Divisional Playoff, played in Arctic conditions at Gillette Stadium. On that frigid Foxborough evening, the Titans fought the Patriots well but came up three points short. It went down to the last possession before Asante Samuel knocked down a desperation fourth down pass from Steve McNair to seal the victory for the Patriots.
Now, six seasons later, here's Bulluck again, screaming in frustration, wondering what has happened to his once-proud team.
The Titans came into Sunday's game 0-5 on the season, and showed everyone at Gillette Stadium why. Last year's top AFC playoff seed looked like something worse than the Detroit Lions, totally inept on both offense and defense. Tom Brady made this bunch look like a Division I-AA college team, mostly in a 35-point second quarter outburst, the defense forced three Titan turnovers on consecutive drives, and the Patriots coasted to a resounding 59-0 win in the snow on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots smothered themselves all over the record books, both the league's and their own. The 59 points set a new team record for most points in a game, breaking the record of 56 set on September 9, 1979 against the Jets at Schaefer Stadium, and equaled on November 18, 2007 at Buffalo. The victory margin and shutout are the largest in team history, with the shutout being the biggest in the NFL since the Los Angeles Rams beat Atlanta by the same score on December 4, 1976.
Brady had a second quarter for the ages, though the woebegone Titan defense was powerless to stop him. Brady hit for five touchdown passes in the quarter, two to Randy Moss, two to Wes Welker, and one to Kevin Faulk. Brady fired a sixth touchdown pass in the third quarter to Moss, tying his career best and coming up one short of the NFL mark of seven last done by former Patriot quarterback Joe Kapp in 1969 when he was with the Vikings.
Brady finished with 29 of 34 passing for 380 yards, no interceptions and a passer rating of 152.8. Brady spent much of the game at the perfect rating level of 158.3. Welker and Moss were the prime benefactors, with Welker catching ten passes for 150 yards and Moss hauling in 8 catches for 129 yards. Julian Edelman chipped in with six catches for 43 yards.
The Patriots amassed 619 total yards as a team, breaking the record of 597 set in that 56-3 rout of the Jets in 1979. They wound up scoring on nine consecutive drives beginning with a missed Stephen Gostkowski field goal on their first offensive possession of the game. In the fourth quarter they had two drives end on downs with the outcome of the game as well in hand as it could get.
To make matters a bit nicer for the Patriots, Laurence Maroney came through with a good game when it was really needed. Sammy Morris was lost for the game on the first possession with a left knee injury, but Maroney stepped up and rushed for 123 yards on 16 carries, including a 45-yard touchdown gallop in the first quarter. He got great seal blocks from Stephen Neal and Dan Koppen and burst through a hole up the middle for the score.
The numbers for Tennessee look as bad for them as the numbers look as good for the Patriots.
Kerry Collins had a passer rating of zero in the first half, completing only one of ten passing for 15 yards. He would finish the game with 2-of-12 passing for minus-7 yards and a passer rating of 4.9. Vince Young finally came into the game in the second half, but he was only 0-for-2 passing and two rushes for minus-1 yard.
Chris Johnson was the only bright spot for the Titans on either side of the ball. Johnson did manage 128 yards rushing on 17 carries, including a 48-yard run on the second offensive play of the third quarter. That set up Tennessee at the Patriot 17-yard line and seemingly in position to at least avert a shutout, but fumbles by Collins and Nate Washington took care of that scoring threat.
Trying to analyze what happened on Sunday is for someone who needs to kill off an afternoon and cannot find anything else to do. Patriot receivers were getting open almost too easily, and Brady didn't miss them. The first touchdown pass of the second quarter was on a flea-flicker. Brady also hit Moss on a rollout left while getting roughed up by Chris Pope. Welker and Faulk were wide open in flat patterns. The Titan defense simply made it too easy. It's tough to say that a Jeff Fisher team quit on him, but it was clear that this Titan team was mismatched at every position. If the weather had been a little bit better, maybe the Titans don't get shutout. But the Patriots still win this one going away.
The Patriots get another winless team next week, as they will play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The only problem surrounding this game is that it will be played across the pond in Wembley Stadium in London. The Patriots will travel to the UK and play this game, then settle in for a bye week. Tampa Bay is also having problems on both sides of the ball, and a rookie head coach trying to find his way. The travel will be the only thing that might bog down the Patriots, but after this yawner against Tennessee, it may not matter.
With the Jets losing to Buffalo in OT, the Patriots now find themselves in first place in the AFC East by themselves. With Brady now clearly back in sync with his receivers and looking more confident than ever, the Patriots are now primed to head into the tough part of the schedule (road games at Indianapolis, New Orleans and Miami) with a chance to come out of it in fairly good shape.
Of course, none of these opponents will be as generous as Tennessee. It is a shame to see this franchise having come down so far after being the top playoff seed last year. Fisher is the longest tenured coach with the same team currently in the NFL, and his teams simply don't look this bad.
And, conversely, teams rarely look as good as the Patriots did on Sunday.
Site-specific editorial/photos Copyright 2001-2004 PatsFans.com. This website is an unofficial and independently operated source of news and information not affiliated with any school, team, or league.