FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Tennessee Titans learned a valuable lesson Saturday night: don’t poke the bear.

The Titans, a young, up-and-coming team, dared to go ahead of the New England Patriots, taking a 7-0 lead in their AFC Divisional round playoff game Saturday night.

The Patriots responded by scoring the next 35 points, defeating the Titans, 35-14, in about as complete a team effort as they’ve had in years.

This is what you do when you’re the defending Super Bowl champs. This is what you do when you’re the measuring stick for the rest of the NFL.

You don’t get down. You rely on what got you here. You trust in your teammates. And you go out and make plays.

Tom Brady set another NFL record. Danny Amendola had more than 100 yards receiving for the first time in the playoffs. Dion Lewis rushed for 62 yards and caught nine passes. James White scored two touchdowns. Rob Gronkowski scored another playoff touchdown. The defense had eight sacks and limited the Titans’ leading rusher to 28 yards.

“We just stuck to the game plan and kept fighting and grinding,” said Amendola. “We knew it was going to be a long game and we had to fight for four quarters. Playoff games are tough and teams are playing tough and we’re happy we came out on top.”

The performance left the Titans shellshocked. They had rallied from an 18-point halftime deficit on the road to beat Kansas City in the wildcard round, but on this night had their swagger knocked out of them.

After the game, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was asked how he felt.

“Embarrassed,” he said. “You don’t play to come and lose in the Divisional playoff.”

This is what separates the Patriots from all their challengers. Sure, they may look bad for a couple of series, maybe even a quarter (the first was pretty mediocre Saturday night) or two. But they adjust, they find the weak link and they attack it. And they never get rattled.

Once the Patriots got untracked, once they shifted their game into a fast tempo, there was nothing Tennessee could do to stop them.

“We did a good job of that,” said Brady, who completed 35 of 53 passes for 337 yards and three touchdowns (his NFL-record 10th playoff game with three touchdown passes). “I thought once we could get into the drive we did a good job kind of keeping the defense defensive. We had them misaligned a few times, had some easy throws where we had some guys open.”

Lewis, White, Amendola, Gronkowski, Chris Hogan – even seldom-used Brandon Bolden – made play after play after play.

Logan Ryan, the former Patriots cornerback who now plays for the Titans, has seen that before.

“They came out and did what they do,” he said. “We endured it a little bit in the first quarter but we couldn’t really get them off track.”

Defensively, the Patriots refused to let the Titans do what they do best: run the ball. They bottled up Derrick Henry, never allowing him to bounce outside where he is most dangerous. And once they got ahead and knew the Titans were done trying to run the ball, the defense turned the game into a sack race, running down Mariota.

Deitrich Wise, Jr., twice sacked him. So did Geneo Grissom. Adam Butler. Marquis Flowers. Trey Flowers. Ricky Jean Francois.

“We got a lot of outstanding plays from a lot of players,” said coach Bill Belichick.

The game turned after the Titans got a 15-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to Corey Davis with 1:14 left in the first quarter. Until then, Tennessee had bottled up the Patriots offensively. The Patriots refused to call it a wake-up call, but it served that purpose.

Brady put together a seven play, 73-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard shovel pass for a touchdown to White that tied the game and the rout was on.

“I think when you talk about complementing each other, that was a huge drive by our offense, to come back and score,” said safety Devin McCourty. “And then defensively, we said, ‘Here we go. This is the swing in the game. We can put a nice run together.’

“And that’s what happened.”

Aided by a questionable offensive pass interference call against Tennessee’s Eric Decker, the Patriots forced a punt. Brady drove New England 48 yards in six plays, with White scoring on a 6-yard run to make it 14-7. The defense forced another punt, then Brady drove the Patriots 91 yards in 16 plays, this time ending it with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Chris Hogan.

Boom. It’s 21-7 and the game, really, is over.

Nate Solder, the offensive left tackle, said it really was simply a matter of keeping the faith.

“We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing,” he said. “Believe in the guys we’ve got, the process we have and make plays.”

And because of that belief, they’re in the AFC championship game again.

“It’s incredible,” said Solder. “I haven’t missed an AFC championship my entire career. It’s an unbelievable streak. I’m so thankful. And the situation we’re put in, I can’t take it for granted. We’re going to play a really good team and we’re going to have to play our best football.”