Stars, studs and duds from the Patriots’ massive win over the Titans

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  • New England Patriots
    New England Patriots
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  • Tennessee Titans
    Tennessee Titans
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  • Mac Jones
    Mac Jones
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  • Kendrick Bourne
    Kendrick Bourne
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  • Damien Harris
    Damien Harris
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  • Dan Orlovsky
    Dan Orlovsky
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The New England Patriots’ second half against the Tennessee Titans was a thing of beauty, with execution in the areas that helped the team form an identity during its six-game win streak, which continued in Week 12.

New England ran the ball well and generated takeaways in the second half — two things the team did not do well in the first half when the Titans seemed to have a shot at winning the game. Once New England managed to get yards out of Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris and forced fumbles out of J.C. Jackson and Davon Godchaux, the Patriots coasted to victory and piled on points in their 36-16 win.

Here are the stars, studs and duds from the game.

STARS

WR Kendrick Bourne: He manages to do special things with the football, and Sunday was one of his more electric games. The 41-yard touchdown was an impressive display of creating yards after the catch. The first touchdown, a four-yarder, was a wild display of footwork, with Bourne getting clobbered by the Kevin Byard in coverage. “(Mac Jones) threw a good ball. … It’s just a good play by me. Getting my feet down was the biggest thing. I don’t know how I did it,” Bourne said postgame. It was an exquisite play.

OT Trent Brown: He has brought a whole different level of physicality to the running game, with his unworldly blend of size and speed. The best example? He got into space as a lead blocker on Damien Harri’s touchdown run. That play was largely a credit to Brown’s work.

CB J.C. Jackson: We’ve shown so much love for Matt Judon, who was only OK in this game. Let’s revisit the conversation about how Jackson is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL — because he is. He logged an interception in the third quarter that completely shifted the mood of the game. The Titans were trailing by just 13 points and were attempting to score a touchdown on a fourth-and-2 at the goal line. He picked off a batted pass. It was yet another dominant performance for him.

LB Donta’ Hightower: Too many weeks have gone by where I have failed to acknowledge the veteran linebacker’s impact upon the defense. He hasn’t necessarily had any “wow” plays with his peers logging interceptions and sacks galore. But Hightower is integral to this savvy defense, which has done wonders to confuse opposing quarterbacks. ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky did a nice job breaking down a play where Hightower was one step ahead of the Titans.

STUDS

The coordinators: Both Josh McDaniels and Steve Belichick did a solid job preparing for this game. They both had issues in the first half with the run game. McDaniels couldn’t get his going and turned, briefly, to the pass. Belichick’s defensive line proved porous, which kept the Titans competitive for 30 minutes. The two coordinators found a way to get back to what they do best. And McDaniels, in particular, has done an excellent job managing his rookie to mitigate errors.

WR Jakobi Meyers: Not only is his contributing as a downfield blocker, like he did to spring Bourne on his long touchdown run, but Meyers also put up five catches for 98 yards. He typically chips away at a defense with short gainers and first downs. On Sunday, he managed a 38-yarder.

Kicker Nick Folk: He hit both of his extra-point attempts and nailed 5 of 6 field goal attempts on a frigid, snowy day, including a long of 52 yards. He has been one of the Patriots’ most consistent players this season, even if he does have some issues with range.

DUDS

QB Mac Jones: He finished 23 of 32 for 310 yards and two touchdowns. I know what you’re thinking: “Henry, you’ve clearly put Jones in the wrong category. It’s a typo.” Well, it’s not. Jones benefitted from sensational play from his receivers and spotty play from safety Kevin Byard (a bit of a shocker considering he’s an elite player at his position). Jones missed Hunter Henry twice for what should have been touchdowns in the red zone. Jones also forced a throw to Jonnu Smith for what should have been an interception in the red zone. Mistakes like that are what have the Patriots scoring touchdowns on just 55.6% of their red-zone trips (24th in the NFL).

WR N’Keal Harry: I’m well aware he’s a good blocker. His position, however, is receiver. He doesn’t receive the ball often, with zero catches this week and just three in the last three weeks.

DT Carl Davis/DT Lawrence Guy: Let’s lump these two interior run defenders into one category. Their main focus was to stop Dontell Hilliard and D’Onta Foreman at the line of scrimmage. They didn’t do that.

WR Nelson Agholor: He is playing an integral role in the passing game, clearing out defenders and providing big blocks. He’s also not increasing his involvement in the passing game, a disappointment for a receiver that’s getting paid at least $11 million per year over the next two years. In 12 games this season, he has just 32 catches for 416 yards and three touchdowns.

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