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Usually these pieces are broken up into the first and second half but after yesterday’s game there really isn’t a need. Neither team’s offense looked good, but the Bengals were just good enough to outlast the Patriots. Tom Brady had his streak of 52 straight games with a passing touchdown snapped the week before he could have tied it against the man who holds the record of 54, Drew Brees. The only word to really describe the offense yesterday is pathetic.
– From opening drive when Brady was sacked by Geno Atkins on an attempted play action, you could tell it was going to be a long day. The Bengals have one of the best defensive lines in the league and the offensive line of the Patriots was outmatched from the word go. Brady was sacked four times and hit eight times. The few times there was a pocket to stand in, Brady looked uncomfortable and indecisive with the ball. Without a doubt yesterday was one of the worst performances of Tom Brady’s career.
– Danny Amendola made his return to the lineup and had a few good grabs – 4 catches on 9 targets for 55 yards – but even he couldn’t spark the offense. On a day the offense didn’t find the end zone, Brandon Bolden led the team in catches with 6. Needless to say, it doesn’t bode well when your leading receiver is a back-up running back.
– Brady and the rest of the offense never got into a rhythm and it seemed as if they didn’t have much of a game plan at all. When they would break off a decent gain on a run, they immediately went to play action which was getting blown up in the backfield on just about every attempt. As always, they attempted passes at or behind the line of scrimmage that didn’t work. Instead of working their way down the field with their typical short and intermediate routes, Brady kept attempting to go down the field and make up huge chunks of yards on one play. The offense just seemed out of sync all day.
– The defense, on the other hand, did their part. When you have Tom Brady as your quarterback and your defense only allows 13 points, you should win the game. There really isn’t any other way around that. Brady is looked at as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, but he couldn’t do what his former backup Brian Hoyer did the week before. That’s a problem.
– Once again the defense has been carrying this team. Even with the absence of Vince Wilfork, they kept the pressure on Dalton and did their usual “bend but don’t break.” The defensive gameplan worked well. Dalton wasn’t completing too many passes to his wide receivers, most notably AJ Green. The tight ends did make a few plays against the defense, but aside from the drive where the Bengals scored the only touchdown of the game, the defense did everything you’d hope they would do.
– If there is one gripe to have with the defense, it’s on that drive where the Bengals scored the touchdown that proved the difference in the final score. The Patriots had the Bengals backed up to 3rd and 15 on their own 2-yard line. They gave up a pass along the sideline as Kyle Arrington got beat over the top and Devin McCourty wasn’t fast enough in getting to the receiver. That drive should have been stopped deep in their own territory, but 11 plays later it instead turned into the only touchdown of the game by former Patriot BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
– Even if the defense got the ball back on that drive, though, there’s no guarantee the Patriots would have put it in the end zone. They had the ball 1st and goal from the Bengals’ 2-yard line and all they could muster was a field goal. That is completely unacceptable.
– It’s been said and done in the past that if you can pressure Brady, you can disrupt his game; the Bengals proved that to be true yesterday. Five weeks into the season the offense is still a work in progress, which is a bit alarming. It seemed as if the things they did right in the previous 4 weeks were just completely abandoned. They’ll have to chalk it up to a huge learning experience and make the correct adjustments. Hopefully this offense becomes more aggressive in the coming weeks, because the tentative, indecisive offense that was on display yesterday isn’t going to win a big game any time soon.