From the look on his face, even Tom Brady couldn't believe what was happening—and he was the one who was doing it.
Facing a Tennessee Titans defense that was short key players, staffed by rookies on the corners, and reeling due to its 180-degree turn from the dominating unit of a year ago, Brady led the New England Patriots to—for lack of a stronger term—a 59-0 victory against the Tennessee Titans in Foxboro Sunday afternoon.
Yes, you read that correctly. 59-0.
In conditions that should have leveled the playing field somewhat—thanks to global warming, it was snowing in New England...scratch that, it was a blizzard—the differences between these two teams could not have been scripted any further apart.
How bad was it? Well, at the risk of angrily smashing my keyboard as I recall the events of this afternoon, let's compare, shall we?
Kerry Collins threw 12 passes. He completed two of them, one in each half. Nine of them were dropped by receivers, and seven of those hit the receiver right between the numbers.
If he can't throw any more accurately than that, and make his receivers catch the ball, then I say give him the hook permanently.
By contrast, Tom Brady's receivers, playing—gasp!—in the same weather, didn't drop a single pass in the first half until 55 seconds remained on the game clock. In that half, the Patriots scored 45 points, with 35 of them coming in the second quarter.
All of them passes.
That were caught because someone wasn't where they were supposed to be.
Except one, which was actually a well-covered play, albeit man-to-man coverage of Randy Moss in the red zone by a rookie . Nice call, coach.
That's five passing touchdowns in a quarter. Never been done before in the NFL.
Not even when the passing game was new, and defensive backs didn't know how to cover receivers yet.
Brady finished his work early in the third quarter, going 29-for-34 and 380 yards, with six touchdowns. Did I mention that he threw five touchdowns in one quarter?
Brady also had a pass play go for over 40 yards, something he hasn't accomplished since 2007. He was two yards short on a second touchdown; in fact, of his six touchdowns, four of them went for 28 yards or more.
Answer me this: Who here thinks it is good practice to allow Wes Walker or Randy Moss get wide open at the second level with Tom Brady throwing the ball?
The funniest part of every catch made by the Patriots was that after each catch, the Titans defensive backs—all of them —looked dumbfounded. They held their hands up, shrugged their shoulders, and looked around as if to say, "I don't know what just happened. How did he catch that? Who was supposed to cover him? Why didn't anyone help me?"
New England's rookie backup quarterback came into the game, completed 9-of-11 for 52 yards, and ran for a touchdown.
Vince Young threw two passes, one of which was an interception, and handed off the rest of the game. Then knelt down on the last play. Way to see what he can do for the organization.
Kerry Collins and Vince Young both threw an interception apiece, Young fumbled once and Collins fumbled twice. Add drops by Nate Washington, Ahmard Hall, and LenDale White—who was carted off the field shortly after the drop—and the Titans dropped the ball an astounding eight times, five of them resulting in turnovers.
New England didn't cough it up once.
Tom Brady was within spitting distance of a perfect passer rating: 28-for-34, 380 yards, six touchdowns. Zero interceptions. 152.8 passer rating.
Tennessee had not one, but two quarterbacks with 0.0 ratings. Actually, that's not entirely true: Collins somehow ended up with a 4.9 rating, but considering the fact that he had -7 yards passing, I think someone did the math wrong.
New England punted the ball one time in the game.
Tennesse's punter had more punts than the Titans had passing yards. But even Reggie Hodges contributed to the mayhem, shanking a punt for 21 yards as the second quarter was winding down.
Chris Johnson, for his part, did everything he could to keep hope alive. His 128 rushing yards was just three yards shy of Lawrence Maroney's effort for New England. But even Johnson's hard running wasn't enough to stem the flow of blood.
I'm even glad that the Tivo stopped early, because I felt like I was gawking at a car accident with fatalities. There was carnage everywhere, wreckage littered the entire scene, and watching the events unfold made me feel green around the gills.
All in all, the Titans put on arguably one of the worst performances, on both sides of the ball, that the NFL has seen in a long time.
Largest margin of victory in the NFL since 1970, the year the AFL and NFL merged.
Most passing touchdowns by a single quarterback in a quarter since 1950.
Worst start by the Titans organization since 1984.
Most points scored by one team in a half since 2002.
Suffice it to say, the Titans have some questions that need answers over the next two weeks, and some of the answers could be far-reaching.
Who will be the starting quarterback when the Titans take the field next?
Will Chuck Cecil and/or Jeff Fisher have a job at the end of the year?
Will the Titans put feelers out into the free agent market or the trade arena to see if there are any veterans who can bolster their defense?
Are blackouts imminent in Nashville when the Titans play at home for the rest of the year?
These questions and more face the Titans players and staff when they return to Nashville. How they respond over the next two weeks will determine whether they turn it around, or whether Tennessee pulls a repeat of Detroit's disastrous 2008 season.
I for one, know which way I am leaning right now. As my friend Chris Sharp jokingly (?) pointed out, the Titans are playing so badly at the moment, they face the bye week as seven-point underdogs.
Somewhere in Michigan, Lions fans are suddenly taking a keen interest in the Titans' remaining schedule. An 0-fer for the Titans this year makes it not quite so lonely in Detroit.
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