Game over: The Patriots opened the season with a dominating 34-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans in Nashville. The Patriots fell behind 3-0, but then took control of the game to register an easy victory.
Tom Brady completed 23 of 31 passes for 236 yards, including one touchdown pass each to his dynamic tight end duo of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.
Second-year running back Stevan Ridley had an outstanding game, rushing for 125 yards on 21 carries while showing a shiftiness that makes him dangerous and adds an element missing from last year’s offense.
The Patriots defense took Titans running back Chris Johnson out of the game, holding him to a ridiculous four yards on 11 carries. Tennessee only gained 20 yards rushing.
Patriots first-round draft picks Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower combined on a big play that reflected their high selections. Jones sacked Titans quarterback Jake Locker and forced a fumble. Hightower scooped it up and returned it six yards for a touchdown that gave the Patriots a 14-3 lead.
:31 left in 4th quarter: After taking over on downs at Titans’ 24, the Patriots kept the ball on the ground with Brandon Bolden, nearly running the clock out before Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 25-yard field goal.
4:15 left in 4th quarter: The Patriots ran 5:02 off the clock despite using some no-huddle offense and then Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 25-yard field. Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead carried the load for most of the drive. Ridley even had a 20-yard reception plus a nifty 16 yards. He now has 135 yards rushing.
9:17 left in 4th quarter: After retaining possession on the reversal of the turnover, the Titans, with Matt Hasselbeck replacing Locker at QB, drove to a first and goal at the one. Then a great play by Vince Wilfork, who dumped Chris Johnson for a five-yard loss, forced the Titans to kick a field goal.
Beginning of 4th quarter: A potentially disastrous turn of events for the Titans as Jake Locker completed a pass to Nate Washington at the Patriots 25 but Tavon Wilson and Jerod Mayo both hit him and knocked the ball loose. Patrick Chung picked up the ball and returned ti to the Titans’ 25. He was tackled by Jake Locker who was also injured on the play. Titans training staff was all over the field.Then play was reversed and called incomplete on review.
End of the 3d quarter: Patriots 28, Titans 10 — After three, Stevan Ridley has his first 100-yard rushing game for the Patriots. He has 18 carries for 106 yards and a touchdown.
1:04 3d quarter: Patriots 28, Titans 10 — Stevan Ridley plowed into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown. Ridley broke off runs of 16 and 14 yards before the plunge into the end zone.
Ridley has 18 carries on the game for 106 yards and a touchdown now. He’s having a phenomenal game.
3:59 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Titans 10 — A Devin McCourty interception was overturned — rightfully so — and a holding call on Titans offensive lineman Steve Hutchison killed Tennessee’s drive and forced them to punt at the their own 2-yard line.
5:44 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Titans 10 — The Titans defense managed to get pressure on Tom Brady, forcing the team’s fourth punt of the game.
10:17 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Titans 10 — With Chandler Jones hounding him down, Titans quarterback Jack Locker threw off balance and connected with Nate Washington for a 29-yard touchdown pass. It was Locker’s first career touchdown pass.
The Titans drive was only four play, covering 80 yards in 1:30. Locker hit tight end Jared Cook for 35 yards to get things going. He’s 18 of 24 passing for 206 yards, with an interception in his debut against the Patriots.
11:47 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Titans 3 — The Patriots’ opening drive of the third quarter stalled after two incomplete passes, including a hopper to Julian Edelman that he tried to pass off as a reception.
15:00 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Titans 3 — The second half is about to get underway. Stevan Ridley has nine rushes for 58 yards. That’s a 6.4 yards per carry average. With 10 more yards, he’ll be on pace for 1,000 on the season.
End of 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Titans 3 — Jermaine Cunningham got a big sack on Titans QB Jake Locker and Tennessee was forced to punt before Tom Brady kneeled to end the half.
2:00 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Titans 3 — Tom Brady hit Rob Gronkowski in the back of the end zone on a play-action pass for two yards and his second touchdown pass of the day. The play was upheld after review.
The 2-yard scoring strike capped a 12-play, 67-yard drive.
Brady is now 10 of 13 for 123 yards and two TDs.
7:17 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Titans 3 — Tom Brady has returned to the game without missing any action. He had a bloody nose and it has been bandaged.
7:33 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Titans 3 — Despite letting Titans quarterback Jake Locker get loose for a 9-yard scramble and first down, the Patriots locked their opponents down. Only five plays for the Titans before they were forced to punt.
11:07 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Titans 3 — Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones had a strip-sack on Titans QB Jake Locker in the end zone and fellow rookie Dont’a Hightower picked it up, avoided a would-be tackler, and romped into the end zone. It was a 6-yard return for Hightower. So far, good day for the rookies. Jones with a sack, Hightower with a fumble recovery and touchdown. And then Tavon Wilson with an interception.
11:55 2d quarter: Patriots 7, Titans 3 — The Patriots training staff is working with Tom Brady after he was sacked by Titans DE Kamerion Wimbley. He has a bloody nose. We’ll keep you updated.
12:30 2d quarter: Patriots 7, Titans 3 — Titans DE Kamerion Wimbley went right around Patriots tackle Nate Solder and tracked down Tom Brady for a sack. It kill a drive that started with so much promise.
Three plays earlier, Brady found Brandon Lloyd on the sideline for a 27-yard reception. After a review, the play was upheld.
14:30 2d quarter: Patriots 7, Titans 3 — Titans rookie QB threw it up long for Nate Washington, looking for a touchdown. But Kyle Arrington was having none of it. The veteran cornerback, battling with Washington, tipped the ball into the air, giving enough time for rookie safety Tavon Wilson to get over and catch the ball on a dive in the end zone. The Patriots took over at the 20.
End of the first quarter: Patriots 7, Titans 3 — With the first quarter of the 2012 season in the books, we’ve already seen the Patriots go to their hurry-up offense and fire the ball deep to Brandon Lloyd. Tom Brady wasn’t able to connect with Lloyd there, but he was able to find Aaron Hernandez for a 23-yard touchdown.
It was Brady’s 301st career touchdown pass, breaking a tie with John Elway for fifth all-time in the NFL. Also, on his pass to Rob Gronkowski, he surpassed 40,000 yards passing in his career.
1:59 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Titans 3 — Tom Brady stepped up in the pocket to avoid a sack and found Aaron Hernandez for a 23-yard touchdown strike to get on the board.
It was a 5-play, 67-yard drive that spanned only 2:06. The drive was marked by a huge connection with Rob Gronkowski for 28 yards in wide open field. And then Stevan Ridley broke off a run for 17 yards.
4:05 1st quarter: Titans 3, Patriots 0 — The Patriots held the Titans to their first three-and-out after stuffing two straight runs from Chris Johnson.
6:29 1st quarter: Titans 3, Patriots 0 — The Tom Brady and Brandon Lloyd connection appears to still need some work. Brady bombed it out to Lloyd on a double play-action pass but the two couldn’t connect. Two plays later, Brady hit Wes Welker in his shoulder pad to end the drive after six plays. Stevan Ridley came up with a huge run for 17 yards on the drive.
8:43 1st quarter: Titans 3, Patriots 0 — The Titans moved quickly down the field, getting into the red zone, after going 12 plays for 70 yards before Rob Bironas kicked a 28-yard field goal. The Patriots were aided on the defensive stand from a non-call on CB Devin McCourty, who bumped into WR Damian Williams on a potential pass interference.
Ras-I Dowling was flagged for pass interference on the drive and CB Kyle Arrington was beat for a 24-yard pass down the sideline to Nate Washington on a fourth-and-1.
15:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Titans 0 — We’re moments away from kickoff here at LP Field in Nashville. The Titans won the coin toss and have elected to receive.
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Some lineup changes for the Patriots. It appears Ryan Wendell will be starting at right guard instead of Donald Thomas. For the Titans, Kendall Wright is starting at wide receiver for Nate Washington. Defensive tackle Mike Martin will make the start for the injured Sen’Derrick Marks.