It doesn't matter what vintage uniform they wear, this year's o-fer Tennessee Titans are woeful. For today's AFL Legacy game, they were suited up in the old powder-blue helmets with the oil rig and matching uniforms, and were also on the receiving end of an historic loss for an added touch of nostalgia.
At first, this game seemed like it would hold another Sunday of frustration for the Patriots. Sammy Morris was injured on the Patriots' first drive, and just when I thought we'd had a breakthrough about Maroney, up he popped again (or so I thought) like a bad penny.Tom Brady was then sacked, limiting the Patriots to a field goal attempt on this first possession. As Gostkowski got ready and the Patriots milled around in the snow in their red throwback uniforms, I couldn't help but think of the footage I've seen of the Snow Plow game in 1982.
Except in this case, the field goal was missed. Suffice to say, things didn't look good.
To say the worm turned on the next possession, when Maroney suddenly reoriented himself North-South (a departure from the stubborn East-West focus he habitually lapses into), busted through the Tennessee line, and ran 45 yards all the way to the end zone for the Patriots' first touchdown.
After that, the play by play isn't terribly important. When the snow settled and the sleet and fog cleared, the results were shattered team and league records as a result of a 59-0 trouncing.
Relevant stats as posted by Patriots.com:
Team records set by the Patriots [yesterday]:
* Most points in a game (59)
* Most points in a half (45 in the first half)
* Most points in a quarter (35 in second quarter)
* Most total net yards in a game (619)
* Most passing net yards in a game (426, tie)
* Most touchdowns in a game (8, tie)
* Most passing yards in a half (Tom Brady, 345)
* Most passing touchdowns in a half (Tom Brady, 5 in first half)
* Most passing touchdowns in a game (Tom Brady, tie, 6)
NFL records set by the Patriots [yesterday]
* Most touchdown passes in a quarter (Tom Brady, 5 in the second quarter)r * Largest halftime lead (45 points, 45-0)
Other milestones achieved by the Patriots [yesterday]
* The Patriots' 59-0 win ties the largest shutout victory by an NFL team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Atlanta Falcons 59-0 on Dec. 4, 1976.
* The Patriots 59-point victory ties the largest margin of victory by any team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, equaling the L.A. Rams' 59-point win over Atlanta on Dec. 4, 1976 (59-0).
For the Patriots to have defeated the Titans so badly, obviously a part of this victory should be chalked up to weakness of opponent. There were times Randy Moss and Wes Welker were left so wide open, there wasn't even a white shirt on the TV screen with them. Tennessee's wide receivers appeared to give up completely in the snow by the second quarter, dropping passes that hit them right in the hands.
"Where does one team’s astonishing awfulness coincide with another’s obvious efficiency?" wrote Bob Ryan this morning. "We might be entering existential question territory here."
True, but measured just against themselves last week, the Patriots showed more poise and organization in the freezing weather at Foxboro yesterday than under clear skies in Denver. Maroney, in particular, had a breakout game yesterday, amassing 123 yards -- half again as many as he had amassed for the entire season before Week 6.
Brady and Moss also especially seemed to be clicking for this game. Weakness of opposition notwithstanding, it took precision and proficiency for the back-to-back touchdown passes that found Moss in the end zone, once from 40 yards out--the Patriots' first such play of the season--and another from 30 or so on a flea-flicker initiated by BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
It's true that there were times the Titans literally might as well not have been on the field. But the Patriots were playing like something had lit a fire under them, and I'm pretty sure that something was stalking the sidelines in a soaking wet grey hoodie yesterday.
As Ryan noted, it's too early and the game was too flukily noncompetitive to draw any long-term conclusions. But I'm certainly in a cheerier mood to start this week.