Pass rush told the story of the Titans' loss in New England

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The scoreboard read 35-14 at the end.

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There was an 8-0 game within the game that told us how The Patriots and Titans got to that end.

The Patriots tracked Marcus Mariota well all game and really honed in after 

halftime, finishing with eight sacks of the quarterback who suffered a first-quarter quad strain.

The Titans defensive front, meanwhile, was completely handled, and barely got a hand on Tom Brady, who wasn’t taken down once.

“They had a guy spying me throughout the game trying to keep me within the pocket and you’ve got to give a lot of credit to them,” Mariota said. “They covered well, and I just wasn’t able to get the ball out.”

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How the Titans feel they stack up to the standard

mdi construction barIMG 5864 1FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Titans did a lot of good things to earn their spot into the divisional round of the NFL playoffs.

Once they got here, however, they learned that no matter how confident they felt about their ability to match up with the defending Super Bowl champs, putting it all into practice is a struggle.

A 35-14 loss to the Patriots sent the Titans into the offseason.

My video report on how they feel they measure up to the league's standard:

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Bad calls or not, Titans were way overmatched

mdi construction barFOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Two bad calls were pivot points for sure.IMG 5751

And we’ll soon hear from the Titans about an offensive pass interference call against Eric Decker and a false start on a Patriots’ punt that turned into a neutral zone infraction against Tennessee.

But let’s not forget the checklist the Titans carried into the game against the AFC’s No. 1 seed and the defending Super Bowl champions.

Of all the things we talked about them needing to do to have a chance in this game, they ultimately did very few.

Which translated to a 35-14 loss and the end of their season.

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Better start a mandatory ingredient for the Titans in any upset scenario

mdi construction barPROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Titans are a gritty team that’s shown resolve and an ability to fight back from tough circumstances, circumstances they often create for themselves.

But the slow starts have been an issue all season long. They’ve hardly overcome it with any regularity even though last week they stormed back from an 18-point deficit in Kansas City.WalkerWarmKC 1

Starting slow against the Patriots is a formula for disaster.

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Pickers mailbag: Can the Titans find a light-bulb moment?

mdi construction barPROVIDENCE, R.I. – Greetings from New England, where the entire staff of PaulKuharsky.com is preparing to cover Saturday night's big game.

IMG 5707Big thanks to MDI Construction, our travel sponsor, for its role in getting us here, and to Pickers Vodka, which sponsors the weekly mailbag.

I said on The Midday 180 -- which just expanded to four hours -- that I give the Titans an eight percent chance. That's not nothing.

On to the mail.

PK: This is the fundamental question about the 2017 Titans and we know a lot of what has factored in – Marcus Mariota injuries, lack of development by the young wide receivers, a dip in offensive line play, some play-calling issues and the scheme. How all those pieces have, or have not, fit together is hard to say.

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It's time for Marcus Mariota option plays

mdi construction barPROVIDENCE, R.I. – Bill Belichick will be surprised by nothing. But that doesn’t mean things can’t work against his Patriots.

apple icon 57x57 precomposedThe Titans put three receivers on the field more often than usual in Kansas City and ran effectively out of that set, often with Marcus Mariota in shotgun.

In all, they ran 43 such snaps, on which they gained 332 yards and scored all three of their touchdowns.

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New England D doesn't look great on paper, but we're looking at the wrong categories

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Patriots have the NFL’s 29th-ranked defense, 20th against the run and 30th against the pass.TitansFloor

But those are not the numbers that matter as the Titans get set to try to pull at upset in Foxborough, Mass. Saturday night.

New England owns the fifth-best scoring defense in the NFL, allowing just 18.5 points a game. Four times they’ve held their opponents to single digits.

Here is Terry Robiskie on how the Patriots defense works:

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Delanie Walker: 'It surprised me that Titans were so good this year'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans are just two seasons removed from owning the No. 1 pick in the draft.

That’s a reminder we need to offer often, because there was a tendency though much of the season to feel like the Titans had not gotten good enough, fast enough.WalkerKC 1

“It takes time, it really takes time,” Brian Orakpo said.

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