COMMENTARY | It was only fitting that the defense of the Cincinnati Bengals made the key play at the end of their Week 5 win against the New England Patriots. The Bengals' defense throttled the Patriots' offense throughout the game, allowing just 197 yards passing and less than 100 yards rushing.
The defensive effort enabled the Bengals to improve to 3-2 with the win and put an end to the 52-game streak in which Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady had thrown at least one touchdown. These were the five plays of the game that led to the Bengals win:
Adam Jones Pick
After a pair of costly penalties, the Bengals' defense made the end of the game more interesting than it should have been. Brady was in a position from the Bengals' 27-yard line not only to connect for a TD for the 53-straight game, but also -- and more importantly -- tie the game to force overtime.
Brady sought out the height advantage that Patriots' wide receiver Aaron Dobson had over the shorter Adam Jones but delivered an underthrown ball that Jones badly mistimed on his jump for the pick. Despite the timing, Jones recovered and was able to come up with an acrobatic pick to end the game.
Carlos Dunlap Forced Fumble
The Patriots approached the red zone for the first time in the first half at the Bengals 25 midway through the second quarter when defensive end Carlos Dunlap redeemed himself for a bad horse collar penalty just two plays prior by tomahawking the ball away from Patriots' running back LeGarrette Blount. Bengals' safety Reggie Nelson recovered the fumble.
The meager Bengals' offense was able to convert the Dunlap forced fumbled into three points, which were all the offense would manage for the first half.
Chris Crocker Touchdown
Not a TD touchdown but rather a touch of a down player may have actually been the biggest play of the game. Midway through the fourth quarter, Brady nearly had his TD pass for a 53-straight game, but WR Danny Amendola came up just a yard short. With no one immediately covering him, Amendola landed on the ground after he caught the ball and attempted to flip over into the end zone for the score. He would have made it if not for alert Bengals' defensive back Chris Crocker, who touched Amendola down just short of the end zone.
After that, the Bengals' defense stuffed the Patriots on three straight plays in what was a remarkable defensive stand that forced the Patriots to settle for a field goal instead.
Terence Newman TD Pass Break Up
35-year-old Terence Newman made the play of the game in Week 3 against the Green Bay Packers when he returned a fumble recovery 58 yards for a game-winning score. The TD-saving play he made in the final few minutes of the win against the Patriots in Week 5 may not have been quite so dramatic but it was most definitely a much better and more difficult play to make.
With 3:26 left in the game, Newman drew man coverage on Dobson, who ran deep down the sideline and looked poised to use his height advantage and positioning to snag a well-thrown Brady 45-yard pass for six. But Newman recovered and made a fantastic play in deflecting the ball at its high point just before it reached Dobson.
Dalton Pass From Own End Zone
Once again, Bengals' QB Andy Dalton underwhelmed to the point where the internal team discussion is likely started as to not only if Dalton is the Bengals' QB of the future but whether or not he is even the best QB choice for the rest of this season.
The Bengals had not scored an offensive TD for over seven quarters until Dalton led the offense on a badly overdue drive. After a sack had pinned the offense at their own two-yard line, Dalton converted a 3rd-and-15 out of his own end zone with a rare perfectly thrown 20-plus yard ball snared by WR Marvin Jones. The throw ignited a 14-play, 93-yard TD drive that proved to be the difference maker.
Dalton may have bought himself more time with this game-winning drive, and he has his defense to thank for the opportunity to even be in a position to turn the trick just once. If Dalton can figure out how to run the offense more effectively on a consistent basis, the Bengals should be able to reach the postseason for the third straight year, especially behind the force of a talented defense that has no quit with coordinator Mike Zimmer running the show.
Robb Hoff has worked as a freelance researcher for ESPN's production and news departments for more than five years. He posts his NFL draft predictions each year at footballnostradamus.com.
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