Rapid Reaction: Patriots 34, Titans 13
September, 9, 2012
By Paul Kuharsky | ESPN.com
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Thoughts on the Tennessee Titans' 34-13 loss to the New England Patriots on opening day at LP Field:
What it means: The Titans start out 0-1. Their failures in coverage against Tom Brady leave questions about how they are going to slow other quarterbacks who will find open people like Philip Rivers, Matthew Stafford, Matt Schaub, Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers.
What I didn’t like: Jake Locker did some good things, but none were good enough to offset a wobbly deep ball he threw for Nate Washington that was tipped and picked or a fumble near his own goal line that the Patriots scooped and took to the end zone. The defense couldn’t cover enough of New England’s weapons well enough to give the hosts a chance.
And about the officials: They weren’t brutal, but they could have cost the Titans four points on their early field goal. Just before that, receiver Damian Williams was clearly mugged by Devin McCourty on a pass into the end zone. It was merely ruled an incompletion. Locker got hurt making a tackle on a play that should have been blown dead.
How it’s done: New England’s second-year running back, Stevan Ridley, ran with the sort of purpose that’s too often been lacking from Chris Johnson since his holdout before the 2011 season. Ridley was very good as he collected a TD and 125 yards on 21 carries for the Patriots.
Injuries of note: Locker injured his left shoulder making a tackle on Patrick Chung on a fumble return -- the play was overturned into an incompletion. Washington, the receiver on the play, suffered a leg contusion. Middle linebacker Colin McCarthy suffered an ankle injury in the third quarter. He returned briefly, but then went to the locker room. Will Witherspoon, who was not a factor since the Titans were playing predominantly nickel, filled in. The Titans also went to a dime package with three safeties more.
What I liked: The Titans spent the preseason with Tommie Campbell as the third corner, shifting Alterraun Verner inside. But they left Verner outside in this game, using Ryan Mouton on the inside. And slot receiver Wes Welker didn’t hurt them at all with three catches for 14 yards. Also, while Michael Roos had his hands full with rookie pass-rusher Chandler Jones, I thought the rest of the line did a pretty good job in pass protection. Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork didn’t make a great deal of noise.
What’s next: This franchise has had trouble in recent years against the Chargers, particularly in San Diego. All the tough start predictions start to pan out if Tennessee can’t find a way to win in Southern California. Is Locker back, or do the Titans have to turn to Matt Hasselbeck already because of the injury?