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Patriots throttle Titans for sixth straight win, jump atop AFC standings

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The New England Patriots delivered their sixth straight win Sunday, beating the Tennessee Titans, 36-13, at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots, who matched the Titans' AFC-best 8-4 record, never trailed in the game. Quarterback Mac Jones continued his impressive campaign for Offensive Rookie of the Year by hitting Kendrick Bourne on touchdown passes of 4 and 41 yards and finished the game with 310 yards passing. Kicker Nick Folk also hit five field goals on six tries.

Prior to the Baltimore Ravens playing later in Week 12, the Patriots now sit atop the AFC standings. It's been quite a turnaround after a 7-9 mark in 2020 and a 2-4 start to this season.

New England took a 16-6 lead late in the first half, but the Titans' Dontrell Hilliard made it a 16-13 halftime score as he ripped off a 68-yard touchdown run in his first NFL start. Hillard ran the ball 12 times for 131 yards as the Titans stuck to a ground-based approach.

Although the Titans ran for 269 yards in the game, they got nothing done through the air against the Patriots. Ryan Tannehill hit on only 11 of 21 passes for 93 yards and a pick — J.C. Jackson's seventh of the season for the Pats — while throwing to a depleted receiving cast.

In fact, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel had more TD catches (12) in his playing career than the Titans' entire offense had combined in the NFL.

This was also the first coaching victory, believe it or not, for Bill Belichick over Vrabel, his former charge in New England. The Titans under Vrabel throttled the Patriots in the 2018 regular season and then sent Belichick and the Patriots home early in what ended up as Tom Brady's final game with New England.

Other than the run defense, the Patriots looked good from the start. Jones and the passing game were humming early, and the run game took over late. New England won the turnover battle, 4-0. The Patriots' defense also kept the Titans off the scoreboard for the final 30 minutes, 37 seconds of the game.

The Titans now have lost back-to-back games after winning six straight of their own previously.

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