|Date of game: 10/5/2014
Recap: New England vs. Cincinnati
Foxboro, MA (SportsNetwork.com) - The narrative leading up to Sunday night's game was that the Cincinnati Bengals were the team to beat in the AFC and the New England Patriots had fallen off.
The message, as always, is never count out Tom Brady.
Brady threw two touchdown passes and the Patriots routed the previously- unbeaten Bengals, 43-17, at Gillette Stadium.
Coming off an underwhelming triumph over the winless Raiders and a crushing defeat in Kansas City, the Patriots (3-2) got back on track with a statement win in front of their home fans. Brady completed 23-of-35 for 292 yards and New England racked up 220 yards on the ground, with Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen running for 113 and 90, respectively.
"Satisfying night tonight," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. "Certainly a lot of things we need to do better, but we played hard. We made a lot of plays against a good football team."
Cincinnati (3-1) was the last team in the NFL to lose a game after Arizona fell to the Broncos earlier Sunday.
Andy Dalton passed for 204 yards and two touchdowns, but Cincinnati's defense failed to live up to the standards it set in the previous three games. The Bengals gave up just 33 points in those three wins before coughing up 43 in this one.
Brady had New England's offense rolling from the opening possession, which saw the hosts march 10 plays for an early TD. Brady hit Brandon LaFell for 20 yards on the first play from scrimmage and connected with Tim Wright for a 30- yard pickup later in the drive. Brady then extended the series with a QB keeper on 4th-and-1, and Ridley capped the trek with a 1-yard touchdown plunge.
"We got off to a great start," Brady said. "We talked about that all week. It was a long week for everybody, so we wanted to start fast."
Star cornerback Darrelle Revis made a diving interception on the ensuing Bengals possession, but offsetting penalties negated the pick. Mike Nugent missed short on a 52-yard field goal later in the drive.
Brady kept the momentum going following the missed kick, leading another touchdown drive with a little help from his tight ends. Rob Gronkowski's 27- yard reception led to Brady's touchdown pass to Wright, who absorbed a blow from a defender and fell just over the goal line.
Nugent and Stephen Gostkowski swapped field goals in the second quarter, and the Patriots were set to take a 17-3 lead at halftime, but a mistake by one of Cincinnati's best players led to more New England points.
After Gostkowski hit his 48-yard kick, the Bengals took over at their own 9 just over a minute before halftime. Dalton connected with A.J. Green for a 19-yard catch, but Revis jarred the ball loose as he was bringing Green to the ground. Jamie Collins recovered the fumble, and New England got the ball back.
Cincinnati held its ground, but Gostkowski kicked a short field goal to make it 20-3.
Adam Jones returned a punt 47 yards early in the third quarter and on the very next play, Dalton and Mohamed Sanu connected on a 37-yard touchdown pass that cut Cincinnati's deficit in half.
The Patriots struck right back, stealing back momentum with two scores in a matter of minutes to essentially seal the outcome. Brady hit Gronkowski from 16 yards out to cap an 86-yard touchdown drive and on the ensuing kickoff, Kyle Arrington recovered former Patriot Brandon Tate's fumble and flipped over the goal line to make it 34-10.
Revis, who spent the bulk of his time on the field shadowing Green, left the field with a minor hamstring injury on the next Bengals drive and Dalton went right to Green for a 17-yard score.
Gostkowski kicked three more field goals in the fourth to round out the scoring.Game Notes
The Patriots have won 11 straight home games and 32 straight regular season
home games against AFC teams ... New England has won five of the last six
meetings ... Brady became the sixth quarterback in league history to throw for
50,000 yards midway through the first quarter ... Patriots defensive tackle
Chris Jones sacked Dalton early in the fourth quarter. It was the first time
Dalton has been sacked this season.