NASHVILLE – The New England Patriots dipped into their bag of tricks, and wide receiver Julian Edelman threw to a wide-open Tom Brady.
The three-time NFL MVP stumbled toward the first-down marker only to be stopped a yard shy by Tennessee Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard. Then right tackle Marcus Cannon committed a false-start penalty before Logan Ryan, a former Patriots cornerback, knocked down Brady's fourth-down pass to Edelman.
Brady spent the rest of the game on the sideline, watching Brian Hoyer mop up Sunday after a very ugly and uncharacteristic performance in New England's 34-10 loss to Tennessee.
"It's hard to win in the NFL," Brady said when asked about being pulled. "You can't take it for granted. And I think it's hard to win. If you don't play well, you don't win."
Brady was 21-for-41 for 254 yards, and this was the second time in three games he finished without throwing a TD pass.
The Titans (5-4) sacked Brady three times and hit him six more, giving first-year coach Mike Vrabel a victory over the team he helped win three Super Bowls. The Patriots (7-3) had won six in a row, but that came to an end with the offense sputtering against a team that hadn't beaten New England since Dec. 16, 2002.
"You got to make Tom blink, and if you make him blink and have to go to a second read you got a chance," Vrabel said of his former teammate, who was playing in his 300th NFL game. "But if you let him rip it to the first guy he looks at, it's going to be a long day."
New England came in ranked fourth in the NFL in averaging 30 points a game, and the Patriots hadn't scored fewer than 25 points in any of the past six games. Tight end Rob Gronkowski sat out for the third time in four games because of ankle and back injuries, and despite the return of rookie running back Sony Michel New England was held to 40 yards rushing.
Marcus Mariota capped each of the first two drives with TD passes, and Derrick Henry ran for a pair of TDs for the Titans, who outgained New England 385-284 in total offense and led 17-3 after one quarter. Coach Bill Belichick said Tennessee did better than his Patriots in every facet of the game.
"We just got outplayed," Edelman said.