FOXBORO — The New England Patriots kept on rolling in an AFC showdown with the Tennessee Titans Sunday.
The Patriots outscored the Titans 20-0 in the second half at Gillette Stadium to capture their sixth straight win, 36-13.
Here are five thoughts from the Patriots (8-4) victory:
Agent Kendrick Bourne
Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne is near the top of the list when it comes to the free agent acquisitions the Patriots made during their offseason spending spree.
Bourne continued to make a massive impact on New England’s offense as he recorded five receptions for 61 yards and two touchdowns. Both of Bourne’s touchdown grabs were eye-popping starting with Bourne capping the Patriots opening drive with a tough four-yard scoring snag in the corner of the end zone as he was somehow able to corral the pass and get both feet down in-bounds with Titans defensive back Kevin Byard draped all over him.
Bourne showcased his elusiveness on his second touchdown as he caught a pass for a modest gain over the middle before juking past a defense to get to the sideline and tip-toeing his way to a 41-yard score.
For Bourne, he has now tied a career-high with five touchdown receptions in a season.
Mac Jones delivers
Mac Jones keeps passing the tests thrown at him. Going up against a coach in Mike Vrabel, who knows how to confuse a quarterback with a complex and hard-hitting defense, Jones kept thriving by completing 23-of-32 passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns. It was the second time in Jones’ young career he threw for over 300 yards.
With New England’s run game nonexistent for most of the contest, Jones shouldered the load as he spread the ball out, completing passes to seven different receivers. Jones worked passes down field more than he had done in the past as well as he connected with Jakobi Meyers on a slick 38-yard throw-and-catch.
Right now, the only thing that seems to be giving Jones trouble is blitzes from the secondary. Blitzes from cornerbacks gave Jones problems versus the Atlanta Falcons and the Titans dialed up a few, too, that got to Jones.
Where would this Patriots team be without Nick Folk? It’s a question not many would have asked prior to the season, but Folk’s consistent play has turned him into a consistent asset for the Patriots.
Folk knocked through five of his six field goal attempts, including a 52-yarder in the fourth quarter. For Folk, he now has five field goals this season from 50-plus yards, which ties Steve Gostkowski’s franchise record for most field goals from that distance in a season.
Folk’s value is glaring considering his counterpart on Sunday, Randy Bullock, hit the upright on an extra-point attempt and a field goal.
It wasn’t the same level of performance the Patriots defense has shown in recent weeks. Even with Tennessee’s offense devoid of weapons due to injury, including star running back Derrick Henry on injured reserve, the Titans ran for 269 yards. Both Dontrell HIllard and D’Onta Foreman eclipsed the century mark on the ground.
While the Patriots will need to sure-up its run defense going forward, New England winning the turnover battle helped to put some shine on the defensive showing. The Patriots registered four takeaways, forcing three fumbles and picking off a Ryan Tannehill pass in the end zone. New England’s defense also stiffened in the second half, allowing zero points over the final 30 minutes.
The ball seems to find cornerback J.C. Jackson as he recovered a fumble and picked up his seventh interception of the season in the final frame.
Disastrous final minute of first half
The Patriots have made the most of their opportunities during their winning streak, but a lot went wrong for New England in the final minute of the first half.
First, Jones overthrew a completely wide open Hunter Henry for a touchdown which forced the Patriots to settle for a field goal with 58 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
On Tennessee’s ensuing possession, Kyle Van Noy nearly picked off Ryan Tannehill and a play later, Dontrell Hillard bolted through the Patriots defense on a 68-yard touchdown run.
New England still had a chance to extend their lead, but Jakobi Meyers negated a decent pick-up as he never re-established himself in-bounds after stepping on the sideline therefore making it an incomplete catch and Nick Folk followed by missing a 53-yard field goal.
That’s many things that went awry for the Patriots in just about 60 seconds.