Patriots vs. Titans final score, takeaways: Led by Marcus Mariota, Titans utterly dismantle Patriots
The Titans made a statement in a huge win over the Patriots
In a game between Patriots castoffs and the actual Patriots, it was the castoffs who got the revenge they desired and the team fighting for its playoff life that got the upset win it so desperately needed. The Titans, a team composed of ex-Patriots -- from their general manager to their coach to -- hosted the Patriots and turned them away with a dominant, thorough, and vital 34-10 win on Sunday.
There was nothing fluky about it. Marcus Mariota outplayed Tom Brady. The defense pitched a phenomenal game against a Gronk-less offense. Corey Davis continued his ascent. The Titans won the battle up front on both sides of the ball, getting after Brady on defense and running the ball efficiently on offense. This was utter domination in every phase of the game as general manager Jon Robinson, coach Mike Vrabel, running back Dion Lewis, cornerback Malcolm Butler, and cornerback Logan Ryan (am I missing anyone?) earned a blowout win over their former team.
Take it away, Lewis:
The Titans scored on the opening possession thanks to a huge kickoff return and then some Mariota magic. The Patriots never came up with any answers. After kicking a field goal to trim the deficit to 7-3, the Patriots never got closer. The Titans led the entire way, holding 14-3, 17-3, 24-10, and 27-10 advantages until they put away the Patriots for good.
As a result, the Titans have responded to their three-game losing streak with two straight wins during which both their offense and defense have come alive. At 5-4, the Titans are still chasing the 6-3 Texans, but they already beat them once, they get to play them one more time, and they're only one loss behind them.
More important than their actual record is the fact that they're actually playing well. The Titans might not be the most talented team in football, but they might be peaking at the right moment. Thanks to the state of the AFC South (not great), the Titans' path to the playoffs is relatively clear of obstacles. The door is open with only the Texans standing in their way. If Sunday's game is any indication, the Titans might be the favorites even though they're still lagging behind the Texans in the standings. It was easy to shrug atBeating the Patriots in this manner is nothing to dismiss. If Mariota and the defense continue to play this way, they'll be a tough test come January.
As for the now 7-3 Patriots, their playoff hopes are already sealed because the AFC East remains terrible. In that sense, Sunday's loss doesn't matter much. It does matter, however, because they're still chasing the Chiefs in the race for the top seed in the AFC. The Chiefs dispatched the Cardinals on Sunday to improve to 9-1. So, if the Patriots are going to earn home-field advantage, they'll need the Chiefs to slip up a couple times down the stretch. In that sense, Sunday's loss to a team they probably expected to beat was hugely important.
Read on for six more takeaways from the game.
Mariota sensational again
Make that two straight weeks Mariota has been impressive. It turns out, no longer having to deal with numbness and tingling in your throwing hand is beneficial to a quarterback. Who knew?
Against a Patriots defense that failed to make him uncomfortable throughout the game, Mariota completed 16 of 24 passes for 228 yards (9.5 YPA), two touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 125.0 passer rating. He added 21 yards on the ground, most of which came on a 20-yard scamper.
He got the scoring started with a nice touchdown pass outside the pocket.
He was also exceptional from within the pocket -- with his second touchdown (a gorgeously weighted 23-yard pass) serving as the perfect example.
Mariota picked apart the Patriots with ease for most of the game, sitting back in the pocket without worrying about the pass rush. When Mariota is given time to pick and choose his targets, he can be deadly. He was accurate, poised, and in total command for all four quarters.
Over the past two weeks, Mariota has thrown for 468 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. In his six previous games, Mariota threw for 1,030 yards, three touchdowns, and five interceptions. Considering that six-game stretch came after his wildly disappointing 2017 season, when he threw two more picks than touchdowns, it was reasonable at the time to think that he wasn't a quarterback worth a second contract. He still has a ways to go until he proves he is worth that kind of investment, but these past two weeks are a clear step in the right direction under a new offensive coordinator.
Maybe, just maybe, the Titans are finally figuring things out on offense.
Corey Davis ascends
Davis, a first-round pick a year ago, continued his ascent on Sunday. He was the best skill-position player on the field by a wide margin.
In all, he caught seven passes for 125 yards and one touchdown, which you already saw above. What you didn't see was this incredible grab:
Davis always was a captivating prospect. He appears to be putting it all together.
Sunday's big game moved his season-long stat line to 43 catches, 576 receiving yards, and two touchdowns.
Derrick Henry is still here
The Titans won the battle up front. In addition to protecting Mariota, the offensive line also paved the way for both Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry. Lewis rushed for 57 yards on 20 carries while Henry totaled 58 yards on 11 carries. Put together, the two running backs rushed for 115 on 31 carries. As a team, the Titans put up 150 yards on the ground.
Just when we wrote off Henry, he responded by scoring two touchdowns.
Again, this was utter domination in every aspect of the game. The Titans outmuscled the Patriots.
Titans defense dominates Brady
Speaking of winning the battle up front, the Titans' defense handed it to the Patriots' offense (which was missing Rob Gronkowski, of course).
They held the Patriots to 10 points -- their lowest total since Week 3 -- and 4.4 yards per play. Brady went 21 of 41 (51 percent) for 254 yards (only 6.2 YPA), no touchdowns, no picks, and a 70.6 passer rating before he gave way to Brian Hoyer, who finished out the game. Brady has now thrown one touchdown over his past three games.
The Titans stymied the Patriots by making Brady uncomfortable. They racked up three sacks and six quarterback hits. Give credit to the front seven and the secondary, which forced Brady to hold onto the ball as he tried to find receivers open downfield.
The openings never came, but the pass rush did.
The coverage downfield was phenomenal.
The Titans also held the Patriots to 40 rushing yards on 19 carries. In his return from injury, Sony Michel rushed for 31 yards. James White, usually a focal point of the Patriots' offense, was limited to 26 yards on six touches. Josh Gordon and Julian Edelman played well, combining for 185 receiving yards, but the Patriots couldn't get anyone else going.
It's a reminder that the lingering back injury to Gronk could be what derails the Patriots' Super Bowl aspirations.
Same plays, different results
The following two plays are the perfect way to sum up the game. The plays were remarkably similar in design (trick plays designed to get the ball to the quarterback in space) and they both took place in the fourth quarter, but the results couldn't be more different.
In desperation mode, the Patriots drew up this Edelman to Brady pass that would've worked if the grass hadn't made a great tackle on Brady.
On the next play, the Titans forced a turnover on downs. On the first play of the Titans' ensuing drive, they ran their own pass to their quarterback. Mariota caught the pass and took off for a 21-yard gain.
A few plays later, the Titans scored their final touchdown of the afternoon. That's how Mike Vrabel wrapped up a dominant win over his former coach.
The Patriots are onto their bye. Their pursuit of home-field advantage won't continue until after their Week 11 bye. Down the stretch, the Patriots face the Jets, Vikings, Dolphins, Steelers, Bills, and Jets. Meanwhile, the Titans have two important games coming up when they face two divisional foes -- the Colts and Texans -- on the road.
Relive the game with our live blog below.
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