PLAY OF THE GAME
Situation: Patriots led the Titans, 14-3, with 2:06 left before halftime when they had first and goal at the 2-yard line.
What happened: The amazing thing about this play is, in reality, tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) is the only receiver. If Tom Brady needs him, running back Stevan Ridley (22) could be available, but he never gets out on his route. The Patriots are in their jumbo package with guard Dan Connolly (63) at fullback and three tight ends. Aaron Hernandez (81) goes in motion to give Brady an idea as to whether it’s zone or man coverage. Cornerback Jason McCourty (30) goes in motion, so Brady knows he has man coverage and there’s no deep coverage because safety Jordan Babineaux (26) is playing tight on Gronkowski. All Gronkowski has to do is run a corner route to the back pylon because he has nearly 7 inches on Babineaux. It’s a complete mismatch, and everyone on the Patriots knows it (Hernandez stops and watches). Brady makes a perfect throw, Gronkowski makes the catch. Unstoppable.
ON HIS GAME
Stevan Ridley, running back
Could not find a flaw in his game. The Patriots had 10 poor runs as a team (1 yard or less outside short-yardage situations) but you can’t pin any of the blame on Ridley. He broke an amazing six tackles that helped him pick up 38 yards. That accounted for 30.4 percent of his 125 yards. Narrowly edged out defensive end Chandler Jones.
OFF HIS GAME
Brandon Spikes, linebacker
Not many candidates, but we were hard-pressed to find any standout plays in Spikes’s 38 snaps. He seemed to lack his normal edge. Spikes had just one tackle, and he had a penalty and two poor pass coverages. He appeared to be burned on the 14-yard pass to Chris Johnson on third and 1 when he sold out for the run fake.