JOE BIDDLE: Pats school Titans

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota speaks to the media following an NFL divisional playoff football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

It has often been said that to be the best, you have to beat the best.

New England proved they are the crème of the NFL crop. They have the numbers to prove it.

They added more postseason records as the Titans could only watch until the final 35-14 score was in the books.

The Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady showed he stands above all. He threw his 10th career postseason game with three touchdown passes. He broke the tie with Hall of Famer Joe Montana who had nine postseason TD passes.

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota got off to a quick start, which was a rarity for the Titans. He put the Titans up 7-0 after one quarter. It went straight down after that as the Patriots prevailed, 35-14.

Mariota had a tough night as he could only watch the best quarterback in his era in Brady. Mariota could learn from this game. Brady is 40 and he is in the twilight of his future Hall of Fame career.

Mariota is 24 years old and if the franchise can surround him with more protection and better skill position players, he can become an elite NFL quarterback. Mariota was sacked eight times, more than any game this season. The Patriots had Mariota on the run after the first quarter.

Titans Coach Mike Mularkey said that Mariota was hampered when he tweaked a quadriceps muscle.

The Patriots rallied for three touchdowns in the second quarter, taking a 21-7 halftime lead over the Titans and never looked back.

The Titans trailed Kansas City 21-3 at halftime last week and the Titans came back to win and advance to this game against New England.

But the Chiefs are not the Patriots, a team that has spent multiple times in the postseason. They came into this game having won two Super Bowls in the past 3 years.

“We have to use this as motivation,’’ Mariota said after the game. “You can’t hurt yourself. It’s tough to get in a hole and dig yourself out.’’

With Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throwing three touchdown passes and 337 yards, the Titans defense never found a way to put pressure on Brady. He was never sacked, releasing most of his pass attempts before any Titans got close to him.

Mariota completed 22 of 37 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns. The Titans ground game was not what it needed to be to take pressure off of Mariota. With Derrick Henry the only healthy running back, it didn’t help when right tackle Jack Conklin had to go out in the second quarter with a knee injury and it didn’t help the Titans’ cause.

The Titans had too many penalties 10 for minus-62 yards, too many mistakes to challenge the Patriots. Going into the final quarter, it was 28-7 with 4:02 left in the third quarter. The Patriots put up a late touchdown to complete the scoring.

New England had 438 yards compared to the Titans 267. They had 80 plays. The Titans were limited to 61.

It was a hard lesson to learn, but it was necessary to improve in the future.

Joe Biddle is a sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at