There are games that will never be forgotten. Mostly, those contests are played in the postseason, on the NFL’s ultimate win-or-go-home stage. However, every now and then a regular season game takes place that also enters the ranks of the unforgotten — and the New England Patriots have had their fair share of them.
The Snow Bowl. Mo Lewis hits Drew Bledsoe. 4th and 2.
Another such game was played on October 18, 2009 between the Patriots and the visiting Tennessee Titans. Three digits and a hyphen say it all: 59-0.
With the Patriots and Titans set to meet again on Sunday, let’s take a look back at the most lopsided game in modern NFL history — one that set numerous records that still stand today and likely will for quite some time.
The 2009 season saw Tom Brady return from the devastating knee injury he suffered the year prior and which forced him to sit out all but the first seven minutes of the 2008 season. The last time Brady played a full year, New England fielded arguably the most dominant team ever assembled. However, two years later and with the record-breaking 2007 squad a distant memory, the Patriots were lacking a clear-cut identity. One thing did seem sure, though: they probably wouldn’t break many records.
Enter the Titans.
While New England was 3-2 heading into the two teams’ week six match-up, Tennessee was 0-5 and looking to turn the corner against the highly favored Patriots. The visiting Titans did not do that. Instead, they were beaten in historic fashion.
The game, which was played in snowy and windy conditions, saw the Patriots force a three-and-out on the first drive. Rookie receiver Julian Edelman returned the Titans’ punt to the 29-yard line but New England was unable to take advantage of the great field position as Stephen Gostkowski missed a 39-yard field goal attempt. The team would eventually score on its next possession, when Laurence Maroney, who finished the day with 126 rushing yards on 16 carries, broke free for a 45-yard touchdown.
And so, it began.
The drive that ended with Maroney’s touchdown was the first of nine consecutive Patriots scoring drives. The team added a 33-yard Gostkowski field goal to end the first quarter before all hell broke loose in the second. The quarter went like this: turnover Tennessee, touchdown New England, turnover Tennessee, touchdown New England, turnover Tennessee, touchdown New England, punt Tennessee, touchdown New England, punt Tennessee, touchdown New England.
The Patriots outscored the Titans 35-0. In 15 minutes.
New England’s defense stopped its opponent on every opportunity: Jonathan Wilhite and Mike Wright recovered fumbles, while Darius Butler recorded an interception. On the other side of the ball, it was the Tom Brady show — and it was a historic one even by his lofty standards. Brady threw two touchdowns to Randy Moss, one to Kevin Faulk and two to Wes Welker. The quarterback finished the quarter with 17 completions on 21 attempts, for 252 yards and five touchdowns. In 15 minutes.
When the two teams entered the locker rooms at halftime, the Patriots were up 45-0. The second half started the same way the first one ended, with total domination by New England. The third period began as follows: touchdown New England, turnover on downs Tennessee, touchdown New England, turnover Tennessee.
Tom Brady threw his sixth touchdown pass of the day on the first drive of the second half — once again to Randy Moss, who finished with eight catches for 129 yards and three scores. Afterwards, Brady was pulled from the contest and replaced by rookie Brian Hoyer, who drove the offense 61 yards on his first drive. The drive ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Hoyer himself to give the Patriots a 59-0 lead.
There were still 13 seconds left in the third quarter.
After the Patriots’ eighth touchdown of the day, the team pretty much ran out the clock. That being said, following an interception by rookie safety Patrick Chung, New England came close to adding even more points to its already enormous lead. However, the offense failed to convert a 4th and 7 inside the Titans red zone and turned the football over on downs. In case you forgot, the Patriots were up 59-0 at that point — and there were still almost 12 minutes left in the game.
All in all, the 2009 meeting between New England and Tennessee was the most lopsided professional football game of the 21st century and one of the most lopsided of all time. The point differential tied a post-merger record. The Patriots’ finished the contest with a team record 619 yards of offense (since broken; 2011 opening day). Furthermore, they passed for 433 more yards than the Titans, who finished the game with a whooping -7 passing yards — the yardage differential is an NFL record by 74 yards (!). Tom Brady, who completed 29 of 34 pass attempts and finished the game with 380 yards and six touchdowns, set an NFL record with five scoring passes in one quarter.
New England dominated the game in historical fashion. 59-0 will not be forgotten.