The opening kickoff of Sunday’s Patriots-Titans game was a harbinger of the 34-10 beatdown that followed, according to coach Bill Belichick.
Starting at Tennessee’s 2-yard line, Titans wide receiver Darius Jennings fielded a high-flying kick from Stephen Gostkowski and scurried into New England territory for a 58-yard gain. Three and a half minutes later, quarterback Marcus Mariota connected with tight end Jonnu Smith in the end zone to put the Titans up 7-0.
“The play was pretty much symptomatic of the whole game,’’ Belichick said during a conference call Monday afternoon. “Bad coaching, bad playing, offense, defense, special teams, running game, passing game, kicking game. We just didn’t do a good enough job.’’
The Titans never relinquished their early lead and maintained a two-possession advantage for the duration of the second half. Belichick harbored much of the blame for the dismal outing, saying the poor performance started with him.
“I didn’t do a good enough job,’’ he said.
Though his overall message echoed his postgame comments from Sunday afternoon — “none of it was good enough’’ — Belichick offered pockets of praise for a few players, including fullback James Develin, who scored the team’s only touchdown.
“James is a very hard-working and dependable player,’’ Belichick said. “We all have a lot of confidence in him, and we know he’s worked hard and prepares as well as anybody to do his job, so he earns everybody’s confidence and respect from his daily performance to do that.’’
Wide receiver Julian Edelman also drew compliments for his contributions.
“Julian always works hard,’’ Belichick said. “He’s very competitive. He’s a tough kid. He competes hard and does a good job for us offensively and in the kicking game. He plays hard and makes yards after the catch and is a tough runner, so he’s a very dependable guy for us. He’s obviously an important player on our team.’’
Against the Titans Sunday, Edelman logged nine catches on 12 targets for 104 yards. He was the lone bright spot for a Patriots offense that converted only 3 of 15 third-down conversions, reached the red zone just once, and went three-and-out on four of their 12 possessions.
Though quarterback Tom Brady recorded his lowest completion percentage of the season (51.2), Belichick wouldn’t say whether he feels the team needs to get additional targets involved in the passing game. Wide receiver Chris Hogan was targeted just once against the Titans and did not have a reception for the second week in a row.
“Our main concern is to score points and win,’’ he said. “Whatever falls in that category, I’m for and that’s what we’ll do.’’
No update on Dawson
Belichick wouldn’t tip his hand about the status of rookie cornerback Duke Dawson, who is one of two Patriots eligible to return from injured reserve this season.
Dawson returned to practice on Oct. 24 and could have been added to the 53-man roster as early as Nov. 4. If the Patriots do not activate him by Wednesday, he will remain on injured reserve for the remainder of the season.
“We have to make a call on it one way or the other,’’ Belichick said. “We’ll do that in the required period that we have to. We’ll see how it goes.’’
Running back Rex Burkhead is the other player eligible to return from IR. The earliest he can be activated is Dec. 2 for New England’s Week 13 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.
During his weekly WEEI appearance Monday afternoon, Belichick brushed off the fiery postgame quotes from former Patriots running back Dion Lewis.
“Dion’s made plenty of positive comments in the past,’’ Belichick said. “I’m not sure about this one, but whatever it is, it is. Right now, we really need to worry about what we’re doing and our football team. That’s really where our focus is. Whatever else anybody says or doesn’t say is out of our control. I don’t think it’s going to affect us too much one way or the other, whether it’s good or bad.’’
After Sunday’s game, Lewis called Tennessee’s 34-10 victory “a real sweet win’’ and criticized the Patriots for their contract negotiations.
“That’s what happens when you go cheap,’’ he said. “You get your ass kicked.’’