Titans score convincing win against Tom Brady, Patriots
The Titans’ path to January football grows clearer with each perfect pass by Marcus Mariota, each emergence of a viable offensive weapon, each standout play by a surging defense. And there’s been a lot of each the past two weeks.
In front of 69,363, the Titans cruised to a 34-10 win over the Patriots at Nissan Stadium. Here are five things to know from Tennessee's second straight win:
Defense is surging
The No. 1 defense in the NFL played like it Sunday.
Tennessee, which entered holding opponents to a league-best 17.6 points per game, had Tom Brady all out of sorts all day. The New England quarterback completed just 21 of 41 passes (for a season-low 51.2 completion percentage) for 254 yards before being yanked for Brian Hoyer midway through the fourth quarter.
The Patriots had entered averaging 35.5 points over their last six games. Brady was sacked a season-high three times. Wesley Woodyard had 1.5 sacks, Logan Ryan had one sack and Jayon Brown had 0.5 sacks.
Marcus Mariota on point
Mariota threw a perfectly placed floater into the end zone, right into the waiting arms of Corey Davis. The second-year wide receiver drew pass interference on the play, but no matter: he caught it anyway.
Mariota continued to build off a couple of encouraging past performances with a solid outing against the Patriots’ iffy pass coverage: 16 of 24 passing for 228 yards and two touchdowns, both of which came in a first quarter. Mariota and the Titans put up 17 points in the first quarter, their most in a single quarter this season.
Corey Davis with his best game game since Week 4
Davis showed exactly why the Titans drafted him No. 5 overall in the 2017 draft with his nine-catch, 161-yard outburst in Week 4. But he had been awfully quiet since.
On Sunday, he finally approached what he showed that game against the Eagles. Davis had seven catches for 125 yards and a touchdown.
Jonnu Smith is reborn
Earlier this week, Jonnu Smith offered a playful apology to his fantasy football owners — the overwhelming majority of whom picked him up after Delanie Walker was placed on injured reserve after Week 1 — for his slow start to the season.
“If I didn’t them their points,” Smith said after a solid Week 9 performance, “I’m sorry.”
There’ll be no need for apologizing after Sunday.
A week after 33 receiving yards and a touchdown, Smith had three catches for 45 yards and a touchdown, finally giving the Titans some semblance of the production they were missing in Walker’s absence.
Pupil defeats master
Sunday's game marked the first time Patriots coach Bill Belichick faced a head coach who was once his player. And from the get-go, the pupil had the upper hand over the master.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel guided his team to an impressive win for the second straight week, even sticking it to the Patriots with a successful receiver-to-quarterback pass shortly after the Pats had tried the same play just moments earlier.
Reach Erik Bacharach at [email protected] and on Twitter @ErikBacharach.
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