Brady bloodied; pleased with win
NASHVILLE — Bloodied on the field, bandaged off of it, Tom Brady was still showing solid proof after the game that he took a hard shot on the Titans’ only sack.
The Patriots quarterback faced the media with a white bandage covering much of his nose, which drew blood on a second-quarter hit by Kamerion Wimbley when the left knee of the Titans defensive end made contact with Brady’s facemask.
It didn’t cause Brady to miss any game action; he threw for 236 yards, completing 23 of 31 passes, and two touchdowns in Sunday’s 34-13 win. His passer rating was 117.1.
Despite those numbers, it was difficult to see Brady following the game and not wonder if he was injured. He was asked if his nose was broken.
“I don’t know.”
Has he ever had a broken nose?
“In my life? No.”
Does it feel broken?
“I have no idea what a broken nose feels like.”
Is he hurt?
“It’ll be fine. I need some of that anyway.”
Some of what?
“Some scars. I never mind a little blood.”
Logan Mankins was on the field for the opener, less than seven months after having reconstructive surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, an injury he acknowledged suffering last season. ESPN reported Sunday that Mankins tore the ACL in the opener at Miami, and that he played the entire season with the tear.
“I don’t want to get into last season too much,” Mankins said. “I’m kind of set on celebrating this victory with the team. Maybe next week.”
Mankins was asked if he kept the injury private, or if the team was aware.
“No one knew,” Mankins said.
Brandon Lloyd was targeted eight times, more than any of his teammates. He caught five balls for a team-high 69 yards, including a 27-yarder along the sideline in the second quarter, a catch that was upheld by video review after the Titans challenged that he didn’t get both feet inbounds.
Lloyd’s numbers would have been better if he had been able to bring in a deep pass on the Patriots’ opening drive. The ball might have been overthrown, but it also appeared as if Lloyd slowed down slightly while running the route.
“It was an incomplete pass, just try not to read into it too much,” Lloyd said.
When asked if he slowed down, Lloyd met the question with silence for a few seconds, before asking anyone if there was another question. There was one more, whether he felt he and Brady got in synch better as the game continued.
“It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary,” Lloyd said. “We just continued to call plays and did my best to execute them.”
If Brian Waters was watching, it presumably was from the comfort of his home near Dallas. The guard hasn’t reported to the team, hasn’t announced his retirement, and hasn’t publicly said what his plans might be for the season. Appearing on 98.5 The Sports Hub before the game, team president Jonathan Kraft was asked about Waters’s status.
“Well, Brian has chosen not to come in and report. He’s under contract to us and he probably is going to have to decide what is in his personal best interest,” Kraft said. “His playing rights are reserved by the Patriots. If he wants to play football it will be for the New England Patriots, and if doesn’t want to play football we are greatly appreciative of his time. He was a big part of our success last year.”
Wes Welker has only one game in his Patriots career in which he had fewer than the 14 receiving yards he had against the Titans (that came in the 2009 regular-season finale when he was injured against Houston on a 12-yard catch).
But Welker’s three catches — he’s caught at least one ball in all 85 games he’s played for New England — allowed him to match Troy Brown for No. 1 on the franchise’s reception list with 557.
Welker was targeted five times. Standout tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez each caught six balls. Gronkowski had 60 receiving yards, Hernandez 59. Each scored a touchdown.
About the only mistake by the receivers was on Gronkowski’s trademark spike after his score. He bobbled the ball and then lost it, never getting a chance to complete the attempt.
“That’ll be something we laugh about,” said Hernandez.
“But it was a great catch, great throw, and we’ve got to keep making plays.”
The replacement officials had some problems. An obvious pass-interference penalty against Devin McCourty in the end zone wasn’t called on the Titans’ opening drive, forcing them to settle for a field goal.
Two calls were reversed by instant replay. Referees initially credited McCourty with an third-quarter interception, but referee Jerry Frumpruled that McCourty didn’t have possession long enough. In the fourth quarter, Jerod Mayo and Tavon Wilson sandwiched Titans receiver Nate Washington, the ball squirting loose and being picked up by Patrick Chung, who returned it to the Tennessee 26. Frump again reversed the call, saying Washington didn’t establish possession before fumbling.
Wilson had his first interception in his first game, making a diving catch in the end zone after a deep ball intended for Washington was tipped by Kyle Arrington. Wilson was used regularly when the Patriots went to five or six defensive backs . . . After using an assortment of candidates during the preseason, the answer of which Patriot(s) would return kickoffs, at least in Week 1, was McCourty and Matthew Slater. McCourty had a 28-yard return after the Titans took a 3-0 lead, while Slater returned a fourth-quarter kickoff 19 yards . . . Kicker Stephen Gostkowski was forced to tackle Darius Reynaud on a long second-quarter kickoff return, and immediately received a helmet-to-helmet “job well done” by safety Chung . . . Mayo had a team-high 13 tackles (nine unassisted) . . . Bill Belichick moved into an eighth-place tie with Chuck Knox for career victories, with 193. Dan Reeves (201) is next on the list . . . Brady needed just 21 passing yards to reach 40,000 for his career, and got it on an early completion to Gronkowski. Brady is the 14th player in league history to pass for that number . . . Brady also broke a tie with Fran Tarkenton for most career wins by a starting quarterback. He now has 125, fifth-most in NFL history . . . Brady’s two TD passes give him 302, fifth all time. He’d been tied with John Elway . . . The honorary “12th Titan” was legendary ex-University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt.
Shalise Manza Young, Greg A. Bedard, and Joe Sullivan of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Michael Whitmer can be reached at email@example.com.