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Ups and downs

Posted by Christopher L. Gasper, Globe Staff  October 19, 2009 05:40 AM

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Snow fell down at Gillette Stadium, but everything is looking up for the Patriots after their resounding 59-0 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

The Patriots played about as well as they possible could against an overmatched opponent. New England matched the mark for largest margin of victory since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, set a franchise-record for points in a game and racked up a team-record 619 yards, while holding the Titans to minus-7 yards passing and forcing five turnovers, including three in the second quarter, when the Patriots outscored Tennessee 35-0 to lead 45-0 at halftime.

With that in mind, there are no downs from Sunday's game, only big ups.

1. Tom Brady -- Brady was at his best against the second-worst pass defense in the NFL. He threw an NFL-record five touchdown passes in a quarter in the second quarter and finally hit the big play with a pair of 40-yard completions, including a 40-yard flea-flicker TD toss to Randy Moss. Brady was 29 of 34 for 380 yards, with career-high and franchise-record tying six touchdown passes, which equaled the number he had in the first five games combined.

2. Laurence Maroney -- The last time Maroney played at Gillette he had boos rain down on him. This time it was nothing but cheers after his fifth career 100-yard effort (123 yards on 16 carries). He scored the Patriots' first touchdown on a 45-yard run, which was the team's longest of the season and first rush of 20 yards or more. Even if you take out the 45-yard TD jaunt, Maroney still averaged 5.2 yards per carry on his other 15 runs. He is now the team's leading rusher with 222 yards on 48 carries.

3. Randy Moss -- Moss caught three touchdowns passes and had eight receptions for 129 yards. He was over 100 yards receiving at halftime with six for 118 and two scores and then caught a beautiful back shoulder throw from Brady for a TD on the first drive of the second half, a pass that showed that he and Brady are back in sync. He also absorbed a big hit from Michael Griffin in the second quarter and held on for a 20-yard gain. He was hurt and remained down after the big hit and could have called it a day, but returned to catch three more passes.

4. Sebastian Vollmer -- Filling in for Matt Light at left tackle, the German rookie did a good job. He was solid in pass protection and pulled to his right on Maroney's 45-yard touchdown run and sealed off Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck with an excellent block. With Light's contract up after 2010, when he is due to carry a base salary of $4.5 million and a $4.7 million cap charge, the Patriots appear to have their heir apparent at left tackle.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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