JOE BIDDLE: Titans pounded by Patriots in season opener

JOE BIDDLE: Sunday Notes: July 7, 2013 (Image 1)

So much for preseason game results. The Titans were 3-1. New England was 1-3.

In both cases, it was a false reading. The Titans were not that good. The Patriots were not that bad.

It's why preseason results don't count. The Titans got a dose of reality Sunday at LP Field, courtesy of the visiting Patriots.

The Patriots were on a business trip, calmly and confidently carving up the Titans like a brain surgeon.

It was 34-13, a score that left the Titans licking their wounds.

Patriots Coach Bill Belichick had never lost an NFL game to a team whose quarterback was making his first start.

Belichick's record is still intact, as his team put some bumps and bruises on Titans quarterback Jake Locker, the second-year pro who left the game with a shoulder injury incurred while making a tackle on a botched call by the replacement officials.

In the end, the Patriots were the Patriots and the Titans were the Titans.

“We did a good job running the ball offensively, did a decent job stopping the run defensively, made some good plays, turned the ball over and had good field position,'' Belichick said.

“So it was a good team win.''

Boy, was it?

The Patriots made 13 first downs on the ground. The Titans made only one first down running, as Chris Johnson ran 11 times for a total of four yards. That's 0.4 yards a carry and that should be worrisome. His long run was five yards.

The Patriots netted 162 yards rushing. The Titans had an anemic 20 net yards on the ground.  

The Pats had no turnovers. The Titans lost a fumble and suffered an interception. The Pats came away twice with points in the red zone. The Titans got inside the 20 twice and came up empty.

You're not going to beat good NFL teams scoring 16 points.

“As far as measuring gaps, I don't know,'' Titans Coach Mike Munchak said, when asked if the Patriots were that much better than the Titans.

“When you don't play well, like I said it's a loss and I don't think it's necessarily how far apart we are.''

I guess time will tell.

To add insult to injury, the play where Locker got injured was allowed to happen because the replacement officials failed to blow the play dead after Locker's attempted pass to Nate Washington over the middle was first ruled complete. Washington's fumble after the alleged catch was returned 49 yards by Patriots safety Patrick Chung. Locker injured his shoulder while helping make the tackle.

When they reviewed the play, Locker's pass was ruled incomplete.

“Jake doesn't need to be making tackles,'' said Titans tight end Jared Cook. “He needs to leave that to someone else.''

All signs point to Locker being able to play at San Diego this week. It was a typical first start for a NFL quarterback. There were some good moments. There were some bad, and, some in between.

Locker finished his day completing 23 of 32 passes for 229 yards and one touchdown. He was sacked twice, intercepted once. He only ran twice, gaining 11 yards and lost his only fumble.

Locker left a positive impression on Pats cornerback Devin McCourty.

“I thought that he fought out there. He does a great job of keeping plays alive. Even on the touchdown, first he went left and he came back to the right and he was able to throw a pretty good pass out there,'' McCourty said. “For us it was really just trying to stay on our guys and stay deep, especially once he started scrambling around back there.''

There is no quarterback controversy growing out of Sunday's game. It is clear the Titans will need Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck over the 16-game regular season.

To think otherwise would be as foolish as believing in preseason game records.

Sports Columnist Joe Biddle can be reached at

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