The Patriots opened the season with a 34-13 victory today against the Titans. The offense was exponentially better than it had shown in the preseason, as Tom Brady completed 23-of-31 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns, while Stevan Ridley rushed for 125 yards and one score. The defense was strong, too. They showed their athleticism and playmaking ability across the board, forcing two turnovers and scoring a touchdown.
Here are some fourth-quarter observations. Scroll through the ball to read our observations from the rest of the game.
Donald Thomas replaced Dan Connolly at right guard after Connolly left the game with a head injury earlier in the quarter. Not good, as Connolly has a concussion history. Marcus Cannon rotated in for Sebastian Vollmer in their continuous two-in, two-out strategy. Cannon deserves credit because he was better than he had shown in the preseason.
Tom Brady finally completed a back-shoulder pass to Brandon Lloyd up the right sideline. They were working on that a ton this summer, but they struggled to execute it. That’s one of those plays that can be the difference between a good quarterback-receiver relationship and a great one.
Matt Hasselbeck showed some good efficiency when he replaced Jake Locker, who injured his shoulder while making a tackle. Hasselebeck’s accuracy in the short passing game was superior to Locker’s, though Hasselbeck missed Damian Williams in the end zone.
The Patriots’ offense outclassed the Titans’ defense when they pressed the pace. It was obvious the Titans couldn’t stay with them.
Ridley and Danny Woodhead combined to rush seven times for 32 yards on the series that led to Stephen Gostkowski’s field goal that pushed the lead to 31-13. Brady also hit Ridley for a 20-yard pass to start the drive. The Titans haven’t had a good run defense in a few years, so maybe that led to the Pats’ success on the ground, but there’s no doubting how good they looked in Week 1.
The Patriots’ offensive line to conclude the game, from left to right, was Nate Solder, Donald Thomas, Ryan Wendell, Cannon and Vollmer. Interesting to see Cannon at right guard. It didn’t look like Mankins was hurt. They just gave him some rest.