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Injuries a big part of storyline as Patriots defeat Titans

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Another victory, another run of injuries for the New England Patriots.

The Patriots recorded a 33-16 victory against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium, a game that looked like a runaway at halftime (24-3 lead) before the team played an uninspiring second half. Meanwhile, the injuries that continue to mount remain a top storyline for the banged-up team.

Start with No. 3 receiver Danny Amendola, who left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury and did not return. He came out with his teammates for the start of the second half, but turned around, handed his gloves to a fan, and headed back to the locker room for further evaluation.

Then there was starting linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who left the game in the third quarter as members of the training staff checked his left knee. He retreated to the locker room before coming back out and joining his teammates on the sideline in the fourth quarter. He appeared to be in good spirits but did not play again after leaving the game.

And finally, there was starting safety Patrick Chung, who left in the fourth quarter with a hip injury and did not return. He headed to the locker room under his own power, but appeared to be in pain as he attempted to jog off the field before slowing up.

What it means: The Patriots improve to 12-2 and remain atop the AFC. Their goal of earning the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs remains in their grasp.

How the Patriots split up the running back duties: Playing without top power running back LeGarrette Blount, who was placed on injured reserve Thursday, the Patriots split up the duties between Brandon Bolden (29 snaps, including penalties), James White (23) and Joey Iosefa (19). White wound up as the leading receiver (seven catches, 71 yards), while Iosefa was the leading rusher (14 carries, 51 yards).

From the miscellaneous file: Chandler Jones picked up two sacks to up his total to 12.5 on the season, which establishes a new career high. The 12.5 sacks are the third-highest total for a season in team history. Jones’ strip sack returned for a touchdown in the second quarter was a big early play in the game, and was a deja vu of sorts because the Titans seem to bring out the best in him. ... The Patriots led 7-0 after the first quarter. On the season, they have outscored opponents 89-30 in the first quarter, which is the largest differential in the NFL. ... The Patriots lost their third fumble on a punt return this season when Amendola coughed it up in the second quarter and it resulted in a Titans field goal. The Patriots had lost three fumbles on punt returns in the previous 10 seasons combined. ... Tom Brady recorded his 13th game with multiple touchdown passes, which is the most in the NFL. ... Brady’s 30-yard touchdown pass to running back James White in the second quarter was his 35th of the season. This is his fourth season with 35 or more touchdown passes. That ties Peyton Manning for the NFL record.

Fantasy watch: Tight end Rob Gronkowski had five catches for 54 yards and one touchdown. There was an opportunity for more if not for one drop and one pass on which Brady threw behind him across the middle in the second half.

What's next: The Patriots visit the New York Jets next Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.