Stidham rallies Patriots to 22-17 victory over Titans
By Teresa M. Walker
AP Pro Football Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Jarrett Stidham threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Damoun Patterson with 4:12 left, rallying the New England Patriots to a 22-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night.
Stidham picked up where he left off in his previous trip to Nissan Stadium. Stidham had five TD passes here helping Auburn rout Purdue in the Music City Bowl last December, and this time the rookie was 14 of 19 for 193 yards helping the Patriots (2-0) come back from a 17-8 halftime deficit.
Two days of practices against the Titans was enough for Patriots coach Bill Belichick to let Tom Brady watch a second straight exhibition with New England’s options at wide receiver thin because of injuries.
Marcus Mariota started for the Titans (1-1) and shook off a pair of three-and-outs before his best drive this preseason. He capped a 10-play, 87-yard drive with an 11-yard TD pass to his favorite target, three-time Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker, who broke his right ankle in the 2018 season opener.
With kicker Ryan Succop on the physically unable to perform list, coach Mike Vrabel let Mariota go for 2 against his old team. Mariota looked to throw, then ran to the end zone before going into the air and flipping over Patriots defensive back Duron Harmon for an 8-0 lead. Mariota was 6 of 9 for 63 yards passing.
Brian Hoyer’s first offensive series ended quickly. Logan Ryan, the former Patriots cornerback, stepped in front of receiver Braxton Berrios for an interception. Hoyer was 6 of 8 for 55 yards. Stidham took over in the second quarter.
Brandon Bolden and Nick Brossette each ran for a TD for the Patriots.
Ryan Tannehill, added in a trade from Miami in March to upgrade the Titans’ backup quarterback, was 7 of 11 for 84 yards with a TD pass and a sack. Logan Woodside took over just before halftime and finished the game.
WHO’S AT RECEIVER
Julian Edelman didn’t play as he recovers from an injured thumb, and neither did Phillip Dorsett. The Patriots started Dontrelle Inman and rookie Gunner Olsewski, an undrafted free agent from Division II Bemidji State. N’Keal Harry, the Patriots’ first-round draft pick, also did not play.
The receiver can rejoin the Patriots on Sunday after the NFL conditionally reinstated the receiver Friday night after suspending him indefinitely in December 2018 for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Belichick issued a statement Saturday before kickoff that Gordon’s situation has been a league matter.
“When Josh returns to our program, we will evaluate the entire situation and do what we feel is best for Josh and the team,” Belichick said.
Mariota wasn’t the only member of the Titans to flip into the end zone. Jeremy McNichols flipped into the end zone after catching a swing pass and going 15 yards.
Patriots LB Shilique Calhoun was taken to the sideline medical tent with a right leg injury. Patriots DE Derek Rivers also hurt a right leg and went to the locker room.
Patriots: Host Carolina on Thursday night.
Titans: Host Pittsburgh on Aug. 23.