Two games into their 2019 preseason, the New England Patriots sit at a perfect 2-0 — the second of the victories coming on Saturday night against the Tennessee Titans. The Patriots were able to come from behind in the second half to win with a final score of 22-17. While the contest was a closer one than last week’s against the Detroit Lions, there is still plenty New England can feel good about. However, not all was positive.
With all that in mind, let’s recap tonight’s game.
LT: Isaiah Wynn
LG: Ted Karras
C: James Ferentz
RG: Hjalte Froholdt
RT: Dan Skipper
TE: Benjamin Watson
QB: Brian Hoyer
FB: Andrew Beck
RB: Damien Harris
WR: Gunner Olszewski
WR: Dontrelle Inman
DE/OLB: Shilique Calhoun
DL: Deatrich Wise Jr.
DT: Danny Shelton
DT: Byron Cowart
DE/OLB: Derek Rivers
LB: Calvin Munson
LB: Ja’Whaun Bentley
CB: J.C. Jackson
CB: Joejuan Williams
S: Terrence Brooks
S: Duron Harmon
After losing the coin toss, the Patriots sent out Stephen Gostkowski to perform the opening kickoff. Tennessee started at its own 25-yard line following a touchback, but did not go anywhere despite opening with an 8-yard run. However, rookie defensive tackle Byron Cowart sacked Marcus Mariota for an 8-yard loss on the very next play. After an incomplete pass that was unsuccessfully challenged by Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, the Titans were forced to punt.
The Patriots’ first possession did not go any better. Led by Brian Hoyer, the unit was on the field for only two plays before the Titans were in possession again: after Hoyer’s first pass attempt sailed incomplete, the veteran quarterback threw an interception on the very next play. He tried to hit Braxton Berrios but threw the pass behind the wide receiver, allowing ex-Patriot Logan Ryan to intercept it.
Tennessee’s next drive also did not lead to the game’s first down: the Patriots’ defense was stout once again and forced another three-and-out. New England again did not fare any better. While a defensive penalty gave the visitors a new set of downs for the first time all day, they could not take advantage as the Titans defense tackled Damien Harris for a 2-yard loss on a 3rd and 1. However, Ryan Allen delivered a 57-yard punt to flip field position.
The next series went better for the Titans’ starting offense against New England’s second-string defense: the team moved the football quickly into Patriots territory, and capped the series with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to tight end Delanie Walker as well as a successful two-point conversion. The score, however, was not the worst part of the series as New England lost two defenders — Derek Rivers and Shilique Calhoun — to injury. [8-0 Titans]
New England replied in style. Three runs by rookie Damien Harris and a 16-yard catch by Jakobi Meyers helped the Patriots move the football down to the Titans’ 1-yard line as the first quarter came to an end.
After getting stuffed on his first attempt from the 1-yard line, Brandon Bolden was able to find the end zone on an outside run behind left tackle Isaiah Wynn. The Patriots were then able to tie the game on a successful two-point try when Brian Hoyer found training camp . standout Jakobi Meyers in the back of the end zone. [8-8]
Tennessee answered the Patriots’ touchdown with one of its own. The team, now led by backup quarterback Ryan Tannehill, marched 75 yards in just seven plays without ever having to convert a third down. The series’ final play was a 15-yard catch-and-run by Titans running back Jeremy McNichols. [15-8 Titans]
This time, New England failed to properly reply. After a 39-yard kickoff return by Brandon Bolden was wiped out due to a holding penalty by Brandon King, the team’s fourth series did not go much better: a 6-yard pass to Gunner Olszewski was followed by an 8-yard sack and a pass completion that would not move the sticks. Ryan Allen was brought onto the field again to punt, kicking 44 yards.
After giving up two touchdowns on its last two series, New England’s defense was able to get another stop again and keep the Titans from adding to their lead despite moving to the Patriots’ side of the field. However, solid punt coverage from the home team forced New England’s offense — now with Jarrett Stidham at quarterback — to set up shop at its own 2-yard line. It took just one play for the unit to give the ball up again. With Stidham dropping back to pass and taking too much time to get rid of the football against stout coverage, tight end Lance Kendricks was called for a hold in the end zone. The result was a safety and two more points for Tennessee. [17-8 Titans]
The free kick after the safety was handed by rookie punter Jake Bailey and after traveling 67 yards in the air set the Titans up at their own 27-yard line. New England’s defense did come through again following Bailey’s terrific kick and forced a three-and-out. The final play of the series was a 5-yard sack of Tannehill by Patriots pass rusher Chase Winovich. However, the ensuing punt again set the team up deep in its own territory.
New England had a chance to cut into its deficit with a successful two-minute drive but the offense failed to deliver. Instead, Jarrett Stidham and company went three-and-out — which did give Bailey another opportunity to showcase his tremendous leg: he punted 54 yards with a hang-time of 5+ seconds. Luckily for the Patriots, the Titans’ offense failed to capitalize and the two teams headed into the locker rooms with Tennessee up 17-8.
The Patriots received the second-half kickoff and went right to work despite starting at their own 19-yard line: Stidham, showing some encouraging accuracy along the way, led the team on a ten-play, 81-yard scoring drive that was capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by rookie running back Nick Brossette. Stephen Gostkowski’s ensuing extra point was good, with Jake Bailey serving as the holder on the attempt. [17-15 Titans]
Tennessee’s next drive also took six minutes off the clock, but as opposed to the Patriots’ first series of the half did not change the score. Even though the team moved quickly down the field with a healthy mix of running and passing, it came up empty in the end: Titans backup kicker Austin Barnard pushed a 41-yard field goal wide to the left.
New England answered by again moving the football well: the team used just seven plays (and one penalty) to flip field position and get from its own 31-yard line to the Tennessee 16.
The fourth quarter opened with the Patriots in field goal range, but they failed to take advantage and by extension the lead: after Stidham pass intended for Brossette fell incomplete on 3rd and 13, Stephen Gostkowski entered the field to attempt a 40-yard field goal attempt. Like Barnard before him, however, the kicker missed wide left.
The home team did not do much either after Gostkowski’s unsuccessful kicking attempt, punting the football back to the Patriots after only four plays — and New England answered with a tremendous series: starting at its own 1-yard line, the team marched 99 yards in eleven plays to take the lead on a 23-yard back-shoulder touchdown pass from Stidham to Damoun Patterson on a 3rd and 12. All in all, the drive took more than seven minutes off the clock and left the Titans with only four left in the game. [22-17 Patriots]
Tennessee’s next series was again a short one as the Patriots’ defense forced another three-and-out, which gave New England an opportunity to put the game away. The team did just that and ultimately kneeled-out the contest.