The New England Patriots lost today 13-6 to the Cincinnati Bengals, dropping their record to 4-1 and ending Tom Brady’s consecutive game streak with at least one touchdown pass. The streak ends at 52 games, two shy of Drew Brees’ record of 54.
The Patriots were beat soundly in this game. The Cincinnati defense dominated the game, putting pressure on Brady all day long as well as shutting down the Patriots running attack. The biggest factor in the Patriots inability to move the ball, besides the great effort by Cincinnati, is the complete absence of a tight end receiving threat.
What was once the most dominant offense in football running two and three tight end sets, is now sorely limited without a single, healthy tight end on the active roster who has the ability to catch the football. In fact, it’s so pathetic, that the Patriots lined up Nate Solder at tight end on a goal line situation, their only red-zone trip the entire game, attempting to get him the ball in the end zone. I’d say it’s safe to say, based on how pathetic that play was run, that we won’t see that again any time soon.
It’s not a shocker to see the Patriots lose this game on the road to the Bengals. Cincinnati has a good team, a top defense, and was coming off a loss. What was shocking was how inept the Patriots offense was.
– It was instantly clear that the Patriots defense is going to be much, much worse with the absence of Wilfork. It was obvious that they would be adversely effected by his loss, but the Bengals ran the ball down the Patriots throats at times, and I believe it’s only going to get worse for the Patriots.
– Tommy Kelly left the game with a knee injury. The Patriots are going to have to find a quality player at defensive tackle via a trade if they hope to make a serious run at the Lombardi trophy
– Stevan Ridley was sorely missed. The Bengals tough defensive front was blocked adequately to get a back like Ridley, with that quick burst through the hole, to have had a nice day rushing. However, Blount and Bolden continually got stuffed as they were not quick enough to the hole.
– The usually reliable screen game was a huge let down today. The Bengals aggressive defense has been vulnerable to the screen all season. On the Patriots second drive, from deep in their own territory, Bolden dropped a screen pass that was set up so well, it would have been an 85 yard touchdown unless he got caught from behind. The Patriots never had another screen play that was blocked well in spite of the aggressive play of the Bengals defense.
– Danny Amendola was very rusty and a non-factor in this game
On the second drive, Brandon Bolden dropped a screen pass that likely would have resulted in an 80 yard touchdown. He had Dan Connolly out in front, with a single defender, who was being blocked by Thompkins.
Cincinnati had a good drive, but it ended in a red-zone interception as Brandon Spikes stepped in front of an ill-advised Andy Dalton pass.
The Patriots, after getting a little rhythm, moved the ball into Bengals territory, but LaGarrette Blount put the ball on the ground after a tomahawk chop ripped the ball out.
Dalton got hot, completing two balls to A.J. Green, and a then a quick slant to the other side to put the Bengals in scoring position on the Patriots 20. However, the next play pushed the Bengals to the 37 when Greg Jones sacked Dalton. This drive ended in the first points of the game when Mike Nugent nailed a 39 yard field goal.
At the 3:21 mark in the 2nd quarter, the Patriots took the ball from the 21.
Amendola got his first reception since week one for 10 yards to start off the drive. Bolden then took the ball over the left side for a tough 8 yard pick up out to the 39 yard line. On 2nd and 2, Brady threw a rope to the left sideline to Edelman for a 19 yard completion, to the Bengals 42, taking it into the 2 minute warning.
An incompletion to Amendola was followed by a 4 yard loss on a screen to Dobson. On third down Kenbrell Thompkins appeared to have made an amazing catch on a bullet pass from Brady. Brady stepped up in the pocket to avoid heavy pressure, and rifled a low throw up the middle that Thompkins had to lay out for. On replay however, you could see that the ball wasn’t cleanly handled and it was ruled incomplete.
A punt put the ball on the Bengals 7 yard line with 57 seconds in the half. Three straight runs and three Patriots time outs got the Patriots the ball back after a punt on the 50 yard line with 37 seconds left.
A 20 yard bullet to Amendola down to the 30 yard line, and a spike, was followed by an incompletion as Brady got hit trying to dump the ball.
A third down with 19 seconds left got the ball a few yards closer, giving Gostkowski a 42 yard shot with 13 seconds left. A timeout from the Bengals sideline to try to ice the kicker did no good, and the Patriots went into half time tied at 3.
In the 2nd half, the Patriots struggles continued early on their first possession, which started with good field position after a 24 yard Edelman punt return. After a couple of positive plays, Amendola dropped a pass that disrupted the drive, and a coverage sack ended the drive on third and 8.
The Bengals put together their best drive of the day, starting from inside their own ten yard line. It was a 13 play, 59 yard drive. A Dalton scramble on third and 5, and a couple of nice throws up the seam to their tight ends, the Bengals had a first down on the Patriot 25 yard line. A great push by Chandler Jones, followed by a delayed blitz, got Mayo a sack back at the 35 yard line. A stone cold hit by Brandon Spikes left it at 3rd and 16, where a bomb to A J Green was caught by Aqib Talib in the end zone, but he couldn’t get both feet down to complete the interception. Mike Nugent drilled a 50 yard field goal. Bengals 6 – Patriots 3.
The Patriots continued to be unable to protect Brady, and open receivers were not able to get the ball. On third and 10, the Bengals jumped off-sides making it third and five. Brady was unable to capitalize on the mistake and the Patriots punted for the 7th time. Cincinnati took over at their own 6 yard line.
A sack back to the two yard line was followed by a nice throw and catch for a first down after Kyle Arrington, (surprise, surprise) got beat. The next play was a 30 yard run into Patriots territory, and what looked like it might be the turning point in the game for the Patriots, quickly turned the tide in the Bengals favor.
The fourth quarter started on the Patriot 42 yard line, and on 2nd down, Dalton scrambled to make it 3rd and two. Tommy Kelly went to the ground grasping his knee, untouched, and it appeared he had a serious knee injury.
The Bengals got a first and goal on a nice play by A.J. Green, and it came down to a 3rd and goal from the 1 foot line. Surprisingly, Tommy Kelly returned to the game. A big sigh of relief for Patriots fans that he was o.k.
Pecko came in at full back to lead block and power the ball in, but he jumped and made it now 3rd and goal from the 5. Dalton ran a QB draw, and got crushed at the 1 yard line, and on 4th and 1, they brought Pecko back out for another try.
Tommy Kelly left the game again, and it was clear the value of Vince Wilfork as Cincinnati easily pushed the pile into the end zone to take decisive 13 – 3 lead in a game where that Patriots had only about 160 yards in total offense.
One the next play, Aaron Dobson gained 60 yards on a catch and run, bringing it down to the 18 yard line. Amendola made a diving catch on a ball thrown slightly behind him to get the Patriots to the 1 yard line. A run by Blount lost a yard, and on 2nd and goal, the Patriots chose a crazy play. A power run fake with a fade pass to Nate Solder, who lined up as a tight end, which had no chance. On third down, an incomplete pass forced the Patriots to take the points on a field goal to make it a one score game.
With 6:28 left, it was up to the defense to get the ball back to Brady with some time on the clock. On first down, Ninkovich was held, but not called, and that sprung Bernard for a 7 yard run, which he follow up with another 8 yards on the next play. The Patriots defense faced a 3rd and 2 with less than 4 minutes to go. The Bengals milked the clock down and used their final time out. Tommy Kelly sitting on a stationary bike on the sideline, with his head down and clearly done for the day.
Dalton was under tremendous pressure but was able to find his check down to get the first down on a short pass to his back.
And then lightening struck. On first down, Giovani Bernard on an off-tackle play got the ball knocked out by McCourty, and Mayo jumped on the ball before it went out-of-bounds.
On the first play Brady went for the home run to Dobson, but Terrance Newman made a nice play breaking up the play in the endzone.
Amendola dropped a sure out pattern on 2nd down, and left the Patriots with a third and 10.
And very predictably, Brady was blitzed and sacked, and the Patriots punted, wasting a golden opportunity.
2:28 on the clock, ball on the 8 yard line, and the Patriots with three-time outs. A 2 yard run, and a time out. Then, on 2nd down, Hightower tried stripping the ball, and let Ben Jarvis Green Ellis get 6 yards, leaving a 3rd and 2. A Ben Jarvis Green Ellis run up the gut went no where, and Belichick let the clock run down to the two-minute warning to preserve his last timeout.
The skies opened up and the rain was coming down in buckets. A great punt pushed the Patriots back to their 35 yard line.
In an absolute down pour, Brady’s pass to Bolden was dropped, but that was fortunate as the clock stopped on the incompletion. On 2nd down, a similar short pass went into the ground towards Edelman.
A five yard completion to Bolden kept the clock running and at 4th and 5, the game, and Brady’s streak is all but over.
30 precious seconds ticked off the clock as Brady changed the play at the line, but in a blitz attempt, the Bengals went off-sides and gave the Patriots the first down.
But now the rain is coming down sideways making and it’s almost impossible to throw the ball. Edelman appeared to intentionally drop a short pass. With the rain so hard you could barely see the players through the wall of water. A draw play to Bolden netted 15 yards and caused the Patriots to burn their final time out.
From the Bengal 42 Brady launched it deep to the corner, but Dobson broke to the middle, completely alone, but all for not. On third down, a lame attempt at a completion resulted in a personal foul as Gilberry hit Brady in the face as he tried to sack him.
Then, a deep throw by Brady was a quacking duck, and it was well short of Dobson who appeared open. Pacman Jones intercepted the ball effectively ending the game. And as soon as the ball was intercepted, the rain stopped, but it was too late.