Titans RB Chris Johnson was held to 9 yards rushing in the first half.
It only got worse after that.
Johnson finished with 4 yards rushing on 11 carries as the Titans were beaten 34-13 Sunday in Nashville in their opener against New England.
The game left Tennessee with two glaring questions. Will the Titans be able to run the ball this year? And can they stop the run?
Patriot QB Tom Brady, with an arsenal of weapons, was expected to have success throwing the ball. What was stunning was Patriot RB Stevan Ridley rushing for 125 yards and a touchdown.
“We were focused on the pass so much, we really didn’t stop the run,” said Titans safety Michael Griffin, who admitted to reporters he played a bad game. “If you’re trying to stop the run and bringing heavier personnel in the game, it leaves you vulnerable to the pass.”
Added Titans coach Mike Munchak, “They ran the ball better than they should have been able to. It was disappointing to see that, there’s no doubt.”
On the other side of the ball, the Titans running game was abysmal. With a retooled offensive line that features new starters Steve Hutchinson and Fernando Velasco, Tennessee was expected to have a bounce-back year.
Chris Johnson, looking to return to his 2,000-yard form, was said to be in the best shape of his NFL career.
Yet QB Jake Locker was the team’s top rusher – and he finished with 11 yards. As a team, the Titans finished with 20 yards rushing.
When asked about the running game, backup QB Matt Hasselbeck praised Locker.
“I think Jake did some good things running the football,” said Hasselbeck. “Our running game was surprising to me because that’s expected to be a strength.”
After an opening game that has created several questions, here’s one more. Are the Patriots that good, or are the Titans’ that bad?
“There’s a reason that team is in the Super Bowl every other year,” said Griffin. “They are the AFC Champions and they played like it.”
After losing to the Giants in last year’s Super Bowl, the Patriots look like they have addressed their most glaring needs in the offseason. Speedy WR Brandon Lloyd gives the offense a deep threat. The defense looks stout with two rookies filling holes, LB Dont’a Hightower from Alabama and DE Chandler Jones from Syracuse.