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New England put on an impressive show in its season-opening victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday afternoon at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee. Aside from Tom Brady being Tom Brady, here's what we learned.
The rookie out of Syracuse forced a fumble and recorded a sack as well as five tackles in Sunday's 34-13 romp over the Tennessee Titans. Jones has earned an early starting spot for the Pats and troubled a Titans offensive line trying to protect Jake Locker in his first NFL start to no avail.
It's an uphill battle for Jones to actually win the award -- Washington's Robert Griffin III might have that one locked up after leading his team to an upset victory with over 300 yards passing and two touchdowns against the Saints -- but it's nice to see him earn a little bit of recognition for his standout play in Week 1.
Brady was unsure after the game whether his nose was broken when Titans defensive end Kamerion Wimbley sacked him in the second quarter. Regardless, he continued to play, bloody nose and all, with a bandage on the wounded area of his face.
"I have no idea what a broken nose feels like," Brady said. "It'll be fine. I need some of that anyways."
There was some concern surrounding right guard Dan Connolly, who left in the third quarter after a head injury. But the offensive lineman, who missed two games at the end of the 2010 season with a concussion, passed all the necessary tests and does not have a concussion, meaning he'll be available to play going forward.
The Patriots were expected to win this game according to many of the experts and did so without leaving much doubt as to what the outcome would be throughout the game.
Over at Pats Pulpit, Greg Knopping sums it up nicely including his breakdown of the offensive showing:
It wasn't the most dominating game, as the game was more competitive than the score suggests. Nonetheless, the Patriots found ways to execute on both sides of the football. On offense, the Patriots were led by running back Stevan Ridley, who produced 125 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. It's early, but Ridley looks as good as one could imagine on offense. Quarterback Tom Brady also looked sharp for most of the game, completing 23 of 31 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns, one to each of his tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
Brady may not have had one of his 400-yard days, but he was effective as always while picking apart the Titans' defense. It was without question an impressive showing that has the greater New England area feeling good about the Patriots' prospects.
Patriots showed good balance in Tennessee.
Put on your conspiracy theory hats for a minute, would you? Wes Welker, the man who has been without a doubt the most consistent wide receiver in recent years for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, was targeted five times during Sunday's season opening 34-13 win over the Tennessee Titans. He had three catches for 14 yards. Fourteen yards.
We are talking about Mr. 100, remember? Tom Brady's favorite target that many expect to grab 100 footballs over the course of a season and the guy who has recorded 1,000 or more receiving yards in three of the four seasons he's been in New England. Yeah, that guy.
Yet, here he is having little impact on the game. And do you know what? The Pats didn't even need him (to be fair, Welker's presence alone demands attention, opening up opportunities for others -- Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd, Chad Ocho... er, nevermind). Still the Patriots won -- big -- without Welker.
Maybe he just wasn't part of the game plan this week? Sure, that's possible. Or maybe, just maybe, this was designed by Bill Belichick and the Patriots' brass to phase out Welker.
We all know that Welker is looking for big money, and that's part of the reason why the Pats slapped the franchise tag on him this season. In case you didn't know, the Patriots aren't particularly fond of paying their stars big money. If the passing game worked out like it did on Sunday every game, then let's face it: there's no need for Welker. It is what it is, right Bill?
Maybe Belichick wanted to see if the offense could survive without Welker, and with Gronk, Hernandez and Lloyd all in the fold, it appears that it can. Of course, the only way to really know if the offense can survive without Welker is to actually be without Welker. Perhaps Bill wanted to test out that idea. If he did, well, it worked.
If this is truly the case, then it would mean one of two things. Number one, there wouldn't be a need for Welker anymore, so why spend the money? Number two, it might drive Welker's price tag down if he did want to remain with the Patriots (if it happens, why would he?).
Do I actually believe this? I'm not sure, probably not. It isn't very likely that this is happening, but if you think about it, it makes a little bit of sense. What do you think?
Early season rust? Forget about it. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots performed like a well-oiled machine throughout the majority of their season opener against the Tennessee Titans, coming away with a 34-13 win Sunday afternoon at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee.
After surrendering a field goal (Rob Bironas from 28 yards out) with 8:47 left in the opening quarter, New England's offense went on a roll and scored 21 unanswered points to bring an 18-point lead into halftime. Tennessee's offense picked up in the second half, with the Titans scoring 10 points, but New England was able to maintain its distance and notch its first win.
New England's offense came up empty on its first drive, which featured a touchdown drop by new wide receiver Brandon Lloyd (five catches, 69 receiving yards) on a deep ball from Brady (23-for-21, 236 yards, two touchdowns), but Brady led the Pats on a 67-yard drive late in the first, culminating in a 23-yard touchdown pass from Brady and Aaron Hernandez.
Brady reached a couple of milestones in the first quarter, topping 40,000 passing yards in his career and moving into fifth place on the NFL's all-time touchdown list with his 301st passing score (to Hernandez), jumping ahead of John Elway (not bad for one quarter, huh?).
The Pats' second touchdown came on defense, with rookies Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower teaming up to force a fumble and recover it for the score. Jones forced the fumble from Titans quarterback Jake Locker (23-for-32, 229 passing yards, one touchdowns) in his own end zone and Hightower picked it for the score at 11:16 of the second quarter. At the other end of the quarter, Brady again led the Patriots on a 67 yard drive and found Rob Gronkowski (six catches, 60 receiving yards) for a two-yard score.
Tennessee's offense was able to heat up at the start of the third quarter as Locker led his troops downfield on an 80-yard drive before throwing a 29-yard touchdown pass to Nate Washington at 10:25, cutting the Titans' deficit to 11 points. New England canceled out that score at the end of the quarter, when Stevan Ridley (who topped 100-yards on the drive and finished with a career-high 125 rushing yards) punched it in from one yard out.
Bironas made another field goal from 24 yards out with 9:20 remaining, but two field goals from Stephen Gostkowski (25 yards at 4:19 and 31 yards at 0:35) sealed the deal.
Matt Hasselbeck, the Boston College alum and former Seattle Seahawks quarterback, replaced Locker after a left shoulder injury in the second half and completed 6-of-11 passes for 43 yards. Chris Johnson, the Titan's star running back, was held to four yards on 11 carries. Jared Cook lead the Tennessee receivers with 64 yards on four receptions.
New England heads home to Gillette Stadium to face the Arizona Cardinals next Sunday.
After a dominating first half performance, one in which they built themselves a 21-3 lead, the third quarter of their match-up with the Titans didn't exactly go as the Patriots planned.
After their opening drive of the half stalled near midfield, New England was forced to punt the ball back over to the Titans. Jake Locker and co. wouldn't waste any time, immediately gashing the Patriots' defense for multiple big gains in the passing game.
Tennessee would complete their 80-yard touchdown drive in just four plays when Locker connected with eight-year veteran Nate Washington for a 30-yard score.
Another Patriots' punt would result in the Titans taking over from inside their own 10-yard-line. On the second play of the drive, we'd see the most comical moment of the afternoon when a replacement official ruled in favor of a Devin McCourty interception that was quite obviously an incomplete pass.
On their final drive of the quarter, the Patriots would show the world a previously unseen dimension of their offense. Smashmouth football and hard running from second-year tailback Stevan Ridley would lead to New England's fourth touchdown of the day and a 28-10 advantage after 45 minutes of action.
One half is in the books, and it's all systems go for the New England Patriots in Nashville, Tennessee. After giving up a field goal to open the game, Tom Brady and the Pats rattled off 21 unanswered points to take a 21-3 lead over the Tennessee Titans into halftime.
Rob Bironas connected on a 28-yard field goal with 8:47 left in the first quarter, putting Tennessee on top after a 12-play, 70-yard drive that was highlighted by a conversion on fourth down and inches in Patriots territory by Titans second-year quarterback Jake Locker, who successfully targeted Nate Washington on a 24-yard pass.
That would be all the offense for the Titans, however. New England, after coming up empty on its first offensive possession, put together its first scoring drive late in the first quarter. Brady (10-for-13, 123 first half passing yards, two touchdowns) found Aaron Hernandez for a 23-yard touchdown pass with 2:05 left in the quarter.
New England's defense stepped up to the call in the second quarter, as rookies Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower teamed up for the forced fumble and recovery for a touchdown, respectively, at the 11:16 mark. At the end of the first half, Brady again led the Pats on a lengthy drive, this time 12-plays, 67 yards, and found Rob Gronkowski (three catches, 37 yards) for a two-yard score, capping off the first-half scoring.
Brady played well in the first half, but so did Stevan Ridley, who racked up 58 rushing yards on nine carries. Brandon Lloyd, who dropped a wide open pass on the Patriots' first drive, made up for his miscue with a nice diving catch later in the first quarter and finished with 36 receiving yards.
Jake Locker threw for 126 passing yards in the half, but was picked off by rookie defensive back Tavon Wilson. Locker threw passes to eight different receivers and led the rushing game with 11 yards on the ground. Chris Johnson had nine rushing yards on nine carries.
It was Kamerion Wimberly who drove Brady into the ground on a big sack. He did not miss any snaps because of the injury and it is not believed to be serious.
With 10:59 remaining in the second quarter, the Patriots lead the Titans 14-3 and Brady has been a big reason why. He has completed 5-of-7 passes for 93 yards and a touchdown.
Entering the season with great optimism after a youthful overhaul of the defense, the Patriots took to LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee to take on the Titans. The 2012 season's opening quarter would bring both good and bad for the Patriots.
On the game's first drive, rookie quarterback Jake Locker would drive his team deep into New England territory, eventually settling for a field goal from reliable place kicker Rob Bironas. The most surprising play of the drive came in the form of a 24-yard completion to Nate Washington on fourth and short from just outside the Patriots' 35-yard-line.
When the Patriots' offense took the field for the first time of the season, it was a pair of near-miss throws that halted what could have been an impressive season-opening possession. First, quarterback Tom Brady and new target Brandon Lloyd couldn't quite hit on what would have been a 60-plus yard touchdown. Then, Brady and Wes Welker missed on what would have been a 20-yard first down gain.
New England would storm back on their next drive with an impressive balance of run and pass, eventually leading to an Aaron Hernandez touchdown pass and a 7-3 Patriots' lead.
Tom Brady reached a couple of milestones in the first quarter of Sunday afternoon's season opener against the Tennessee Titans, surpassing 40,000 passing yards for his career on a pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski. Then, on the same drive, Brady connected with Aaron Hernandez for a 23-yard touchdown pass, the 301st of his career which moved him into fifth-place all time, passing John Elway. Not a bad quarter, huh?
Brady entered the game needing 21 passing yard to eclipse the 40,000 plateau. As the end of the first quarter concluded, Brady has completed three of his five passes for 59 yards and one touchdown. Brady could have had much more, though, but he could not connect with new wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. who was wide open down the field. New England currently leads Tennessee, 7-3, at the end of one quarter.
The New England Patriots take on the Tennessee Titans in their season opener at LP Field on Sunday, and the Patriots list seven players listed as inactive for the contest.
Offensive lineman Nick McDonald joins rookie defensive back Alfonzo Dennard, defensive end Jake Bequette, tight end Daniel Fells, defensive lineman Marcus Forston, defensive end Justin Francis, and running back Shane Vereen.
McDonald and Dennard were late scratches, as they weren't said to be out until the team arrived in Nashville, according to WEEI.com. McDonald is still recovering from a shoulder injury suffered on Aug. 24 in a preaseason game against Tampa Bay. Denard didn't participate fully in practice on Friday.
Game time is set for 1 p.m. ET on CBS and WBZ-FM as Tom Brady and the Pats look to start their season off in winning fashion.
Think Logan Mankins of the New England Patriots isn't tough? Well, think again. Mankins, according to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter on Sunday morning, played the entire 2011 season with a torn ACL. If that doesn't impress you, nothing will.
Event: New England Patriots (0-0) vs. Tennessee Titans (0-0) - Regular Season, Week 1.
Date/Time: Sunday, September 10, 2012 - 1:00 p.m. ET.
Location: LD Field (Capacity: 6,143), Nashville, Tennessee.
Broadcast Info: Sunday's season opener between the Patriots and Titans will be televised regionally on CBS (Ch. 4 in Boston and surrounding areas) and on DirecTV channel No. 712. The game can also be heard on the radio on WBZ-FM 98.5 The Sports Hub, with Gil Santos and Scott Zolak on the call, and on Sirius channel No. 92.
Odds: New England is favored over Tennessee by less than five points (per OddsShark).
Patriots 53-Man Roster: View the New England Patriots' 53-man roster by clicking here.
Titans 53-Man Roster: View the Tennessee Titans' 53-man roster by clicking here.
Last Season: New England is coming off of a very successful season in which it reached the Super Bowl, but lost to the rival New York Giants. The 2011 version of the Pats went 13-3, best in the AFC, and easily took care of the Denver Broncos and barely squeaked past the Baltimore Ravens en route to the big game in Indianapolis. Tennessee went 9-7 last season, finishing second in the AFC South and failing to qualify for the postseason.
Preseason: New England went 1-3 in the preseason, defeating the New Orleans Saints (7-6) in the opener but losing to the Philadelphia Eagles (27-17), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (30-28) and the New York Giants (6-3). Tennessee was 3-1 in preseason action, dropping the opener to the Seattle Seahawks (27-17) but defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (30-7), the Arizona Cardinals (32-27) and the New Orleans Saints (10-6).
Last Meeting: New England and Tennessee last met on October 18, 2009, when the Pats smoked the Titans, 59-0, at snowy Gillette Stadium. Tom Brady exploded for six touchdown passes while throwing for 380 yards. Wes Welker had 10 grabs for 150 yards and two scores and Laurence Maroney racked up 123 rushing yards and one touchdown. Titans' back Chris Johnson had 128 rushing yards and then quarterback Vince Young failed to record a passing yard on two attempts. As a team, the Titans posted -7 passing yards.
Storyline: The season opener always leads to interesting discussions. It's a clean slate for both sides, and we all know that anything can happen in the National Football League. New England, which revamped its passing game in the offseason by bringing back Wes Welker and adding Brandon Lloyd enters as the favorite, and rightfully so coming off another trip to the Super Bowl. Questions loom about the Patriots' offensive line and its ability to guard Brady, who is the No. 1 key to the team's success. The running game is slightly hampered by injury, with second-year back Shane Vereen sitting out, but Stevan Ridley is a capable back who will take the handoffs from Brady. Defensively, the Patriots young defense has appeared to mature, but it remains to be seen if it can stop opponents as Brady and head coach Bill Belichick try to lead the team to their sixth Super Bowl appearance together.
Players To Watch: Keep an eye on that Tom Brady guy. He's pretty good, in case you didn't know. Brady's performance will dictate the game for both sides. Brandon Lloyd didn't factor much into the preseason offense, but with all of the starters on the field, we'll get a chance to see what's he's really made of. Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez will all be targeted by Brady, most likely, as the game goes on. For the Titans, second-year quarterback Jake Locker has been handed the keys to the offense, as he jumped ahead of former Boston College and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Chris Johnson is in the backfield, and could rack up the yards against a still unproven Patriots defense.
Prediction: It's the NFL, and sometimes predictions are meaningless (I'm sure I'll be wrong a lot this year). I'm going to give the edge to New England here. More talent on the Patriots' roster and a sense of determination after coming up short in the Super Bowl should fuel this team back to the playoffs, and possibly more. First, though, they should start by taking down the Titans, and pretty handily at that. Final Score: Patriots 31, Titans 17.
On Sunday afternoon, the New England Patriots are at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee for their 2012-13 season opener against the Tennessee Titans. The Titans finished last season with a 9-7 record in their first year under the direction of head coach Mike Munchak.
Greg A. Bedard posted a question and answer section with John Glennon, one of two beat writers covering the Tennessee Titans for The Tennessean.
Glennon shared a bit of insight on who Patriots fans should look out for come Sunday afternoon.
When the Patriots have the ball, Pats fans might want to watch out for middle linebacker Colin McCarthy.
I suspect it might be second-year middle linebacker Colin McCarthy. He only started seven games last season, but still led the Titans with eight tackles for loss, and added two forced fumbles and two fumbles recovered. He led the NFL this preseason with three interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.
Glennon also thinks that quarterback Tom Brady could be picking on one of Tennessee's safeties.
Titans safety Robert Johnson is talented but inexperienced, having only played in three games -- primarily as a special teamer. He's likely to see a lot of action on Sunday, and I suspect the Patriots will try to get behind him on more than one occasion.
The article is well worth the quick read. Pats fans can check it out at Boston.com.
Running back Shane Vereen (foot) is the only Patriots player who is listed as out for Sunday's contest. Vereen has been out of action since the Patriots' Aug. 24 preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Vereen missed all of New England's practices this week. Stevan Ridley figures to be the starter at the running back position. Ridley was second on the Patriots with 441 rushing yards last season.
Here is the complete Patriots injury list for the game against the Titans:
RB Shane Vereen (Foot)
S Pat Chung (Shoulder)
Tennessee is poised to be a good team with a winning record this season, but New England is a Super Bowl pick for many. Joel Thorman of SB Nation acknowledged the Titans' talent, but still chose the Patriots to win a close one Sunday in his Week 1 NFL picks post.
You can't pick against the Patriots, not this early. We know who they are and that's an elite team. We don't know who the Titans are yet.
Elsewhere, two of USA Today's six pickers considered the Patriots their "lock" for the week, while New England was the pick across the board at ESPN, CBS, and Yahoo!. Pick'em users at ESPN and Yahoo! also sided with the Pats, as did ESPN and CBS' prediction algorithms.
That the Patriots are favored despite heading on the road: New England is once again expected to be among the elite of the NFL, and while Tennessee is good, few expect it to win its division. Jake Locker will be thrown into the fire, earning his first career start at quarterback against a perennially strong Pats defense and being forced to do so without the team's star receiver in Kenny Britt.
The line for the game opened with the Patriots seven-point favorites, and some have pushed the line as low as five points, but the majority of books have it at six.
Spread: Patriots -6
Moneylines: Patriots -240, Titans +200
Football is back. Patriots and Titans. Go time.