On the opening play of the Patriots-Titans game Sunday, Tennessee wide receiver Darius Jennings caught Stephen Gostkowski’s kickoff and sliced through the New England kick coverage. Jennings was finally pushed out of bounds at the Patriots 40-yard line after a 58-yard return.
The Titans scored a touchdown seven plays later and never relinquished the lead en route to a 34-10 victory. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told reporters his team “didn’t do a good job” on kick coverage or returning the ball. That was a common theme during his postgame press conference.
Asked about the Patriots’ third-down defense, Belichick said, “They were better than we were in that area, along with a lot of other ones.” As for the pass protection in front of Tom Brady, the coach noted, “Like I said, we didn’t really do much of anything well today so everything was a problem.”
“I thought the Titans were clearly the better team,” Belichick said. “They deserved to win and they did, soundly.”
The Patriots couldn’t keep the Titans defense away from Brady, who had a 70.6 passer rating on the afternoon. The offensive struggles were compounded by Rob Gronkowski’s absence and Brady’s inability to spread the ball. He targeted Josh Gordon 12 times for just four completions, while Chris Hogan saw one football thrown his way.
A reporter asked Belichick if the top-heavy targets were by design, but the head coach wasn’t interested in the discussion.
“Yeah, talked about this ad nauseam, Greg,” Belichick said. “Nothing’s changed. We don’t design passes to go to one guy unless it’s a screen pass.”
The Patriots are entering their bye week. Belichick noted his team will move forward and “worry about next week next week.”