Wes Welker made a nice block on a first-down run by Stevan Ridley; the running back later squeezed through a hole and stayed on his feet en route to a seven-yard gain. New England looked to the screen game for the remainder of the drive; Aaron Hernandez converted a first down on a screen, but the drive eventually stalled out after a missed call on a Julian Edelman screen.
Jake Locker connected with Jared Cook for a big gain on a seam route; Devin McCourty came off of his man in order to make the tackle after Tennessee collected 35 yards. Locker later connected with Nate Washington on a 29-yard touchdown pass while being hit by Chandler Jones to trim the lead from 18 points to 11; Steve Gregory was in coverage and missed the tackle.
Patriots 21, Titans 10
Brady missed Brandon Lloyd on the first throw of the drive, but an impressive run by Stevan Ridley and a diving catch by Rob Gronkowski earned the Patriots a first down. Brady hit Gronkowski on another third-down throw in between two defenders, and Brandon Lloyd caught a pass for a first down on the following play. The Patriots were ultimately forced to punt on the drive.
Dont’a Hightower’s coverage instincts continued to pay dividends as he escorted Chris Johnson out of bounds immediately after Johnson made the catch. Devin McCourty almost made an interception, but the play was overturned after a challenge by Mike Munchak. Jake Locker appeared to gain a bunch of yards on a quarterback draw, but the play was called back via a holding call on Steve Hutchinson, who had been attempting to execute a hook block Jermaine Cunningham. Ras-I Dowling diagnosed a screen on the next play and forced Tennessee to punt out of their own end zone.
Stevan Ridley made a nice cutback and gained a ton of yards on a very well-executed stretch play. Brandon Lloyd caught the pass which followed and hurdled a defender before slipping out of bounds; Ridley moved the chains on the next play as New England continued to operate out of a no-huddle offense. Ridley burst through a lethargic Titans defensive front to bring the ball to the one yard line and scored on the next play, extending New England’s lead to 18.
Patriots 28, Titans 10
Jermaine Cunningham, Jerod Mayo, and Devin McCourty prevented Chris Johnson from gaining any yards on first down; Vince Wilfork drove Jake Locker into the ground on second down, forcing an incompletion. Tennessee converted a third-down play on a Kendall Wright reception to end the third quarter.
Tennessee continued to utilize Chris Johnson in the passing game; he caught his fifth pass for a gain of four yards. Things went awry for Tennessee’s offense as Nate Washington was sandwiched between Tavon Wilson and Jerod Mayo after making a catch; the hit knocked the ball loose, and Patrick Chung was able to gain 49 yards on the recovery. Jake Locker appeared to injure his left shoulder on the play while attempting to make a tackle; Tennessee’s training staff attended to both players, who remained on the ground for some time. The play was eventually overturned, but both players left the game; Matt Hasselbeck replaced Locker under center and found Chris Johnson for a 14-yard gain on his first snap. Tennessee continued to move the ball down the field despite their ineffective ground game. Near the goal line, Vince Wilfork was able to wrestle Chris Johnson to the ground for a loss of five yards; the play showcased Wilfork’s exceptional range. Patrick Chung was able to defend Jared Cook on third-and-goal, which forced the Titans to kick a 24-yard field goal.
Patriots 28, Titans 13
Brandon Lloyd made an incredible spinning catch in traffic. After Lloyd’s catch, New England returned to the ground game in an attempt to kill as much clock as possible. Stevan Ridley broke free for a 16-yard gain on third and two, but New England eventually settled for a short field goal from Stephen Gostkowski. Dan Connolly left the field and was brought back to the locker room with what appeared to be a head injury; a concussion would likely cause him to miss extended action. He was replaced at right guard by Donald Thomas.
Patriots 31, Titans 13
Tennessee’s offense stalled out immediately, culminating in a failed passing attempt on fourth down. Brandon Bolden replaced Stevan Ridley at running back and ran for a first down, but struggled overall and looked a little bit indecisive in late-game action. Stephen Gostkowski kicked a short field goal with 31 seconds remaining.
Patriots 34, Titans 13
New England’s offense looked very effective, accumulating 390 yards of total offense. Tom Brady’s pinpoint accuracy was on display, as he completed 23 of 31 passes to six different receivers; he found Brandon Lloyd on five throws for 69 yards. Stevan Ridley totaled 152 total yards as New England’s feature back. Perhaps most impressive was the cohesiveness of the offensive line, which allowed just one sack (Wimbley.) On defense, New England was able to limit Chris Johnson to just four rushing yards on 11 attempts; Tennessee managed just 20 yards on the ground overall. The pass defense allowed 264 yards but looked sound overall.