FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP)Mac Jones threw two touchdown passes, New England’s defense forced four turnovers and the Patriots earned their sixth straight win, rolling past the undermanned Tennessee Titans 36-13 on Sunday.
The victory snapped New England’s two-game skid against the Titans. The Patriots hadn’t beaten Tennessee since former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel took over as coach in 2018. New England (8-4) improved to 6-1 against AFC opponents this season.
Rookie Jones completed 23 of 32 passes for 310 yards. Kendrick Bourne had both of the Patriots’ TD receptions, finishing with five catches for 61 yards.
The Titans (8-4) stayed close early, but couldn’t survive a bevy of errors that included three fumbles by their running backs and an interception by Ryan Tannehill. He finished 11 of 21 for 93 yards and a touchdown.
Playing without star Derrick Henry (foot surgery) for the fourth straight game, the Titans had mixed results from their rushing attack. They also were missing several other starters, notably top receiver A.J. Brown (chest), guard Nate Davis (concussion) and linebacker Rashaan Evans (ankle).
Dontrell Hilliard and D’Onta Foreman became the first Tennessee backs other than Henry to rush for 100 yards since 2018. Hilliard carried 12 times for a career-high 131 yards and a 68-yard TD. But he also a fumble in the second quarter that set up a Patriots field goal.
Foreman rushed 19 times for 109 yards and broke free for a 34-yard rush in the third quarter. But it, too, ended in turnover after he was stripped from behind by J.C. Jackson.
New England led 16-13 at the half, scoring on its first four possessions.
The Patriots took an early lead following a disastrous start by the Titans. It included a penalty on their kickoff return, a 1-yard run loss on their first play from scrimmage and giving up a sack on third down. Tennessee then had to punt twice after being penalized for an illegal shift.
It all added up to a short field for the Patriots, who started on the Titans 37. New England needed only nine plays to go up 7-0 following a 4-yard TD pass from Jones to Bourne.
The Titans bounced back on their second series, eating up more than eight minutes on a 14-play, 74-yard drive that culminated with a 1-yard touchdown reception by Nick Westbrook-Ikhine. Randy Bullock missed the extra point, but the TD ended a streak of 77 consecutive points the Patriots had scored against opponents.
Trailing 13-6 in the second, Tennessee was driving when Davon Godchaux stripped Hilliard, causing the ball to roll free. Kyle Dugger fell on it, giving the Patriots another short field.
Jones had a chance to turn the turnover into a touchdown but missed a wide-open Hunter Henry just outside of the end zone. Nick Folk connected on his third field goal of the half to make it 16-6.
Tennessee took over with 58 seconds left in the half and opted not to take a knee. It proved worthwhile three plays later when Hilliard found a gap in the middle of the field, juked safety Devin McCourty and sprinted for a 68-yard touchdown. It was the longest score allowed this season by New England.
Titans: TE Tommy Hudson walked off on his own power with an ankle injury in the second quarter. … LB Monty Rice was helped off the field with an ankle injury later in the period and did not return. … CB Jackrabbit Jenkins was shaken up in the third quarter. … David Long (hamstring), running back Jeremy McNichols (concussion) and defensive lineman Teair Tart (ankle) were also all out.
Titans: After their bye week, they host Jacksonville.
Patriots: at Buffalo on Dec. 6.
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