By: Denny Hackett
After the Patriots went on a six-game winning streak following a poor 1-2 start with bad losses to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions, the Patriots’ early season demons came back to haunt them in Nashville on Sunday.
The Patriots looked awful in every phase in a game where their offense could not move down the field at all against the Titans. With Sony Michel coming back after missing the past two games with a knee injury, the expectation was that the Patriots’ offense would improve. But that simply was not the case, mostly due to Tennessee’s defense.
Going into the game, Tennessee boasted the number one ranked defense, and they proved it on Sunday. With former Patriots, Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan, playing in their secondary along with second year safety, Kevin Byard, the Titans were able to blanket the Patriots’ receivers all day long. But it was the defensive front that gave the Patriots the most trouble in Nashville.
All day long the Titans’ pass rushers were giving Brady and the offensive line nightmares. Whether it went into the book as a sack or not, Brady was getting hit constantly and stopped him from finding any sort of rhythm with his receivers. With the defensive line boasting talented veterans such as Wesley Woodyard there wasn’t much breathing room for Brady to find his receivers, and he was sacked three times on Sunday.
Brady had one of his worst games of the season on Sunday.
His day was full of awful throws that in a lot of cases did not even reach the receivers. At one point, Brady threw six straight incompletions and set a new season high in incompletions with 20 on the day. For the first time under Brady, the Patriots went seven straight drives without any type of score. The Patriots tried everything on offense to try and get something going, including trying to have Edelman throw a pass to Brady to pick up a first down late in the game. Whatever they tried to do offensively, it just did not work and with seven minutes to go, Brady was benched for backup quarterback Brian Hoyer after one of his worst games of the season.
While Brady struggled mightily on offense, cornerback Stephon Gilmore struggled just as much on defense for the first time this season. Going into the week, most of the talk was of how former Patriot Malcom Butler had been one of the worst cornerbacks in the league statistically, but he ended up playing very well against his former team. Meanwhile, his replacement Gilmore had his worst game of the season.
All season long Gilmore has been able to lock down opposing receivers, but that was not the case on Sunday. In the first quarter alone, Gilmore was flagged for two defensive pass interferences. But throughout the game he was consistently beat by Titans’ receiver Corey Davis including on a first quarter touchdown. Davis finished the day with seven catches for 125 yards and the one touchdown.
The Patriots’ defensive line also struggled despite sacking Marcus Mariota twice. Other than the two sacks, the Patriots were unable to get any pressure on Mariota and he found passing lanes all day long against a porous Patriots’ defense. The defense also struggled against the run, allowing 150 yards on the ground to go with Mariota’s 228 passing yards.
The bye week comes at a great time for the Patriots so they will have some time to take a look at their team and evaluate what’s going wrong before they take on the Jets during Thanksgiving weekend.