In another rock fight of a football game, the New England Patriots came away with a 36-13 win over the Tennessee Titans Sunday at Gillette Stadium. The win is the Patriots’ sixth straight, improving their record to 8-4.
It was a slow day for both offenses early on, as each was handcuffed into playing through one dimension. Tennessee struggled to throw the ball, while New England’s rushing attack lacked the pop we’d seen in recent weeks.
In the fourth quarter, the Patriots’ rushing attack and ball hawking defense came alive and flipped the script. What was a tense game into the third quarter saw fans heading to their cars before the two-minute warning.
Opening the game with a three-and-out, the Titans punted the ball to the Patriots allowing them to start their first offensive drive of the game in plus territory. A 3rd & 10 screen to Brandon Bolden kept the offense on the field in the red zone, and Mac Jones capped the drive by finding Kendrick Bourne in the back corner of the end zone for an early touchdown.
Tennessee answered with a 14-play, 74-yard drive that took 8:09 off the clock, and was finished with a screen pass at the goal line. Randy Bullock hit the upright on the extra point, leaving the Patriots in the lead 7-6.
With a heavy dose of Jonnu Smith, the Patriots quickly were back in the red zone. This time, they’d stall out and Nick Folk was called on for a 22-yard field goal. He hit, putting the Patriots up 10-6.
Another long Titans drive ended with another Bullock doink, setting the Patriots up at their own 34 yard line. Jakobi Meyers made an incredible adjustment on a deep ball from Mac Jones, but the Patriots would stall after that and call on Folk again. He connected from 37 yards to put the Patriots up 13-6.
New England’s defense came up with its first big play of the game on the next drive, with Davon Godchaux forcing a fumble that Kyle Dugger recovered. Yet once again, the offense failed to move the chains around the 30, and this time Folk hit from 44 yards to make it 16-6.
That wouldn’t be it for the half though. Dontrell Hilliard broke off a 68-yard touchdown run right up the middle in the final seconds to make it 16-13. With the 37 second they had left, the Patriots got to Tennessee’s 35 yard line, but Nick Folk missed from 53 yards out.
The Patriots’ first drive of the second half went the way many of their first half ones did. A 20-yard completion to Smith got them into the high red zone, but once again Folk was called on to finish things. His 28-yard field goal made it 19-13.
It looked like the Titans were about to take the lead, with D’Onta Foreman getting going on a big run to start the next drive. J.C. Jackson stepped up and kept things in check, punching the ball out. The fumble was recovered by Jalen Mills, giving the Patriots back the ball just shy of the 50 yard line.
With just one first down on the ensuing drive, the Patriots were forced to punt. Tennessee punted right back, and this time the Patriots did not waste the opportunity. Kendrick Bourne caught a 3rd down pass in the flat, broke a couple of tackles, and tiptoed his way to the end zone for his second score of the game. That gave the Patriots a 26-13 lead.
On the ensuing possession, Tennessee got the ball down to the Patriots’ 3 yard line. Devin McCourty and Kyle Dugger combined for a run stop on third down, and then Jackson intercepted a deflected pass on fourth to end the threat.
The Patriots’ offense was able to take 5:50 off the clock, mostly running the ball. Folk then closed yet another drive, making a 52-yard field goal to put the Patriots up 29-13.
After a turnover on downs from the Titans, the Patriots took advantage of the short field. Damien Harris did most of the heavy lifting, and his 14-yard touchdown run made it 36-13 and put the game away.
Mac Jones finished with his second career 300-yard game, completing 23-of-32 passes for 310 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Kendrick Bourne caught both touchdowns, part of his five-catch, 61-yard performance. Jakobi Meyers also filled up the stat sheet with five catches for 98 yards.
On the ground, Rhamondre Stevenson got things going late and finished with nine carries for 46 yards. Damien Harris had 10 carries for 40 yards and the game-closing score.
Defensively, J.C. Jackson forced a pair of turnovers with his forced fumble and fourth-quarter interceptions. Ja’Whaun Bentley led the team with 10 tackles, and also had two forced fumbles and a sack. Kyle Van Noy had five tackles, three pass breakups, and a forced fumble as well. Matthew Judon recorded a sack, and now has 11.5 on the year.
All eyes in New England now turn to Baltimore, where the Ravens host the Cleveland Browns on Sunday night football. If the Ravens lose, the Patriots will move into the top seed in the AFC.
Up next for the Patriots is a trip to western New York, for their first of two meetings this season with the Buffalo Bills. That game is next Monday night at 8:15 p.m., with coverage beginning at 5:30 on 98.5 The Sports Hub and the Patriots Radio Network.
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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.