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After a dismal outing against the Chiefs in Week 4, the Patriots stormed out of the gate Sunday night against the Bengals on their way to a 43-17 win. The win saw New England’s record improve to 3-2.
Never falling behind in the game, Tom Brady and company led a balanced attack that scored three touchdowns and five field goals. The Bengals didn’t seem to have an answer to any of the Patriots schemes, as they went back to their two tight end sets early and with success. Brady routinely found Tim Wright and Rob Gronkowski open in the middle of the field and he had a perfect passer rating when throwing to Wright. Brady found the open receiver all night long, with eight different players catching passes, many of those on play-action. Those passes were set up by a consistent running game in which Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen both had success against the Bengals’ front seven.
The usually-tough Cincinnati defensive line, which was supposed to be a tall task for the Patriots offensive line, didn’t live up to their reputation. Cincy’s pass rush did not generate much pressure at all, generating one sack and only three tackles for loss the whole night. Brady had time to throw in the pocket, thanks in part to a starting line that featured four veterans and a rookie, with Nate Solder playing left tackle, Dan Connolly playing left guard, rookie Bryan Stork at center, Ryan Wendell at right guard, and Sebastian Vollmer at right tackle. Marcus Cannon was occasionally subbed in on the line, but protection stayed consistently well all night.
On defense, the Patriots had much more success than they did against the Chiefs a week ago. Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia had the corners and linebackers playing press coverage at the line, meaning that they would line up opposite their receiver on the line of scrimmage, and engage them when the ball was snapped. They succeeded in throwing many routes off, almost getting two interceptions to go along with numerous pass breakups. Darrelle Revis shadowed A.J. Green most of the game and held him to only a few catches, even forcing a fumble that was recovered by the Patriots. The run defense also contributed, with first-round pick Dominique Easley starting next to Vince Wilfork on the inside, and Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich on the outside. The defensive line got off their blocks and held Giovani Bernard to his worst game of the season, and hurried Andy Dalton on a significant number of throws. Chris Jones got a sack in the second half, the only one of the game for the Patriots.
Some injured players to watch are Chandler Jones (shoulder), Dominique Easley (shoulder), and Devin McCourty (ribs), though at this point, none of them appear too serious. Danny Amendola had his bell rung trying to haul in a pass and was evaluated by trainers off the field, but eventually came back and played a few more snaps. Darrelle Revis also exited the game for a short period of time with a hamstring injury, but he too returned to the game.
Tom Brady finally surpassed the 50,000 career passing yards, making him one of only six quarterbacks to do so in the history of the National Football League. Belichick awarded him the game ball in the locker room after the game.
The Patriots next play the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, October 12 at 1:00 pm in Buffalo. The Bills are also 3-2, so this game will determine which team takes sole possession of first place of the AFC East with a win.
Other Scores From Around the League:
Buffalo 17, Detroit 14 (OT): Kyle Orton started his first game for the Bills as they came from behind to beat the Lions by 3 in Detroit. Lion’s kicker Alex Henery missed all three field goals he attempted in this game and was consequently cut Monday. On the other hand, Buffalo’s Dan Carpenter hit a 58-yard field goal in overtime to win the game.
Green Bay 42, Minnesota 10: Aaron Rodgers led the way through the air, and Eddie Lacy rushed for 105 yards as the Packers crushed the Vikings at home. The game was 42-0 through three quarters until Green Bay finally took their foot off the gas and allowed the Vikings to score ten points in “junk time.”
Carolina 31, Chicago 24: The Panthers came back from 14 points down to beat the Bears by seven at home in North Carolina. Jay Cutler threw for two touchdowns and ran for another for the Bears, but eventually their offense stalled towards the end of the game, as they were unable to close it out. Cam Newton made plays with his arm as opposed to his legs, and the Panthers scored ten straight points to win the game.
Cleveland 29, Tennessee 28: The most exciting game of the week saw Cleveland erase a 28-3 deficit to come back and win by one at LP Field in Tennessee. What was later confirmed to be the largest comeback in NFL history by a road team, the Browns scored 26 unanswered points in the second half to improve to 2-2 on the year, as Tennessee falls to 1-4.
Philadelphia 34, St. Louis 28: A high scoring game that was finally decided by six points, this was a game where momentum ebbed and flowed for both teams. Through almost three full quarters, Philly gained a 34-7 lead, which eventually diminished when the Rams scored 3 straight touchdowns to make it a one score game. However, St. Louis couldn’t score again and the Eagles held on to win.
New York Giants 30, Atlanta 20: With this ten-point win over Atlanta, the Giants have a three game winning streak and are one game back of Philadelphia and Dallas in the NFC East. This game was tight through the first three quarters, with Atlanta ahead 20-17 after three. New York scored the finals 13 points on a couple of Josh Brown field goals and an Odell Beckham Jr. touchdown to seal the victory.
Dallas 20, Houston 17 (OT): In a Lone Star showdown in which Houston fans might have outnumbered their Dallas counterparts at AT&T Stadium, Dallas emerged victorious on a Dan Bailey field goal in overtime. Houston scored twice late in the fourth quarter to tie the game, but Dallas’ defense and a marvelous Dez Bryant catch set up the overtime game-winning kick.
Indianapolis 20, Baltimore 13: A game that could be a potential playoff matchup, Andrew Luck led the Colts to a seven-point win at home over the Ravens. Again proving that he was worthy of the number one pick in the draft a few years ago, Luck threw for a touchdown and ran one other that turned out to be the game winner for the Colts.
Pittsburgh 17, Jacksonville 9: Ben Roethlisberger and the defense lead the way for the Steelers as they beat the Jaguars by eight at EverBank Field. Holding the Jags to only 3 field goals, and returning an interception for a touchdown wrapped up the win for the visiting Steelers. This was a low scoring, low yardage game in which neither team had more then 21 first downs or more than 375 total yards.
Denver 41, Arizona 20: Peyton Manning did Peyton Manning-like things en route to this 21-point win for the Broncos. Manning threw his 500th career touchdown pass (now at 503), only behind Brett Favre now for most all time. Arizona came into the game as one of the last two undefeated teams in the NFL, but were soundly handed a loss after a competitive first three quarters. The fourth quarter, however, saw Denver score 17 unanswered points, helping them secure the victory.
San Francisco 22, Kansas City 17: Alex Smith returned to play the team that drafted him and then traded him, as the Chiefs traveled to Levi’s Stadium to play the 49ers. A competitive game throughout, the understudy Colin Kaepernick eventually came out on top as San Francisco made 3 straight field goals in the end of the third and fourth quarters to beat the visiting Chiefs.
San Diego 31, New York Jets 0: This was never even really a game, as the Chargers throughout the entire day simply man-handled New York. Barely getting 100 total yards, the Jets benched starting quarterback Geno Smith in the second half in favor of Michael Vick. Vick couldn’t get much done either, which helped spell doom for the defense. Out there for way too long, the New York defense was gashed by Branden Oliver on the ground and Philip Rivers through the air.
Seattle 27, Washington 17: Russell Wilson put the Seahawks on his back as they traveled to FedEx Field to get the win against Washington. Following a few scores late in both halves, Washington stuck around more than they should have, as they had just 14 first downs the entire game. Kirk Cousins is more than an adequate backup for Robert Griffin III in Jay Gruden’s offense, but even he didn’t have enough to pull out the win for Washington.
Matt McKay ’16 is a Patriots/NFL Beat Writer for The Hub. He can be contacted at email@example.com.