Patriots-Bengals: What we learned

Kevin Goheen, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchangeOctober 6, 2013


CINCINNATI -- Strike New England off the NFL's unbeaten list.
The Cincinnati Bengals beat the Patriots 13-6 Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, snapping quarterback Tom Brady's streak of 52 consecutive games with a touchdown pass in the process.
Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored on a 1-yard run on fourth-and-goal with 9:21 remaining to give Cincinnati a 13-3 advantage and the Bengals (3-2) defense kept New England (4-1) out of the end zone on three drives in the fourth quarter to get their first win against the Patriots in 12 years. Cornerback Adam Jones intercepted Brady at the Cincinnati 3-yard line with 16 seconds remaining to seal the win.
The win enables Cincinnati to remain in a three-way tie with Cleveland and Baltimore for first place in the AFC North.
"That's a huge win for a football team that was playing a good team," said coach Marvin Lewis. "It came at the right time. It came when we needed to get back at it, refocuse ourselves and get to work."
The Bengals were coming off a 17-6 loss at Cleveland last week but sacked Brady four times and limited him to 197 yards on 18-of-38 passing. He had not gone without a touchdown pass since the final game of the 2009 season at Houston. Brady's streak is the second longest in NFL history, behind only Drew Brees' 54-game streak.
"I'm bummed that we lost," Brady said. "That's all that really matters."
It was the first time since a 16-9 loss at the New York Jets on Sept. 20, 2009 that New England failed to score a touchdown in a game. The Patriots had just one red-zone possession. It reached the Cincinnati 1 after the Bengals had taken a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter but had to settle for a 19-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski. The Patriots got the ball back one last time with 1:48 remaining following a 57-yard punt by Cincinnati's Kevin Huber. A heavy rain storm was passing through the area at that time.
New England reached, helped by two Cincinnati defensive penalties, was able to reach the Bengals 27 before Brady was intercepted.
Green-Ellis, who played his first four seasons with the Patriots, capped off a 14-play, 93-yard drive with his third touchdown of the season. Green-Ellis had 67 yards on 19 carries for the game against his former team. His touchdown snapped a string of 20 consecutive possessions covering 121 minutes, 34 seconds since the Bengals last scored an offensive touchdown.
Quarterback Andy Dalton was nearly sacked for a safety on the second play of the drive but completed a 28-yard pass to wide receiver Marvin Jones on third-and-15 from the 2 to get the Bengals rolling. Rookie running back Giovani Bernard followed with a 28-yard run up the middle to push the Bengals into Patriots territory.
Dalton finished the game 20 of 27 for 212 yards and one interception.
New England had beaten Cincinnati four straight times with Brady as its starting quarterback, scoring at least 34 points in each game. The last time the Bengals beat the Patriots was the 2001 season opener when Drew Bledsoe was starting.

What the Patriots said

"They have been playing great all year. You can't expect to kick two field goals and win many games in the NFL. We can do a better job than that and we are going to have to if we want to win these games." -- Quarterback Tom Brady.

What the Bengals said

"That's an astronomical number. That's astronomical. But once Geno (Atkins) had that first sack and I had a tackle, everything settled down and guys starting making plays and having fun. It showed." -- Defensive end Wallace Gilberry.

What we learned about the Patriots

1. The communication between Brady and his inexperienced receiving corps continues to be a problem. While they meshed at times, most of the day was a struggle getting the ball down the field. The most glaring instance was on the final drive when Brady threw the ball on first-and-10 from the Cincinnati 42 expecting Aaron Dobson to go left on a deep sideline route. Dobson instead cut his route to the post. The ball fell incomplete. Brady wasn't perfect, missing several throws, but it's obvious there is much to be worked out in the passing game.
2. The loss of Vince Wilfork will be tough but the Patriots are as good as anyone at getting the next player to step in and play. Rookie Joe Vellano made his first career start in place of Wilfork and was credited with three tackles, while Chris Jones had four tackles, 1.5 sacks, one tackle for loss and two quarterback pressures. The defense came into the game No. 6 in the NFL in scoring, allowing an average of 14.3 points a game and lowered that number. It forced two turnovers, the 32nd consecutive game in which New England has forced at least one turnover.

What we learned about the Bengals

1. The offense is still in a funk but it showed patience and spread the ball around against New England. Green-Ellis and Bernard had a combined 16 rushes in a 17-6 loss at Cleveland last week but offensive coordinator Jay Gruden called 34 running plays Sunday and the Bengals rushed for 162 yards total. Andy Dalton targeted seven different receivers, completing passes to six of them. Scoring 13 points isn't going to cut it most weeks but there were signs of improvement on Sunday.

2. It's not easy throwing against the Bengals and that is in large part because of the play of the defensive front four. Sunday was the 19th consecutive game in which they have held opposing quarterbacks to less than 300 yards passing. Besides intercepting keeping Brady out of the end zone, the Bengals sacked him four times, were credited with eight hits on the quarterback and five pass breakups. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict tripped Brady up for one of those sacks. The Bengals have 13 sacks this season, and Burfict's is the only one by someone not on the defensive line.