Ryan L. Fox
On September 29, 2014, the New England Patriots were humiliated at Arrowhead Stadium by the Kansas City Chiefs 41-14. After the loss, coach Bill Belichick was pressed by the media of what happened during the game. He then uttered the famous line, “We’re onto Cincinnati.” Next week, the Patriots obliterated the Cincinnati Bengals at home 43-17 and went on to go win the Super Bowl that same year.
Fast forward to present day, the Patriots were coming off a big loss to the Kansas City Chiefs the previous week and were faced with a multitude of questions like the state of the offense and QB Tom Brady’s future. But like 5 years ago, the Patriots were ‘onto Cincinnati’ and like 5 years ago, the Patriots did what they needed to do against the bungling Bengals.
The Bengals won the opening coin toss but elected to defer to the 2nd half, giving the Patriots the ball to start off the game.
Patriots RB/KR Brandon Bolden brought the opening kick back to the New England 25 where QB Tom Brady and the offense took to the field for their first possession of the game. After an incompletion on first down, Brady found RB James White for a 22-yard catch-and-run down to the New England 47. The Patriots then turned to the running game as RB Sony Michel and even WR N’Keal Harry chipped in a combined 3 carries for 20 yards down to the Cincinnati 23.
The Bengals defense held the Patriots on first and second down at the 23. But on 3rd and 10, Brady dumped a quick pass to White who took it all the way into the endzone for a touchdown. K Nick Folk booted the PAT through the uprights as the Patriots took the early 7-0 with 11:44 in the 1st quarter.
After letting the kickoff go into the endzone, the Bengals offense took to the field for their first possession of the game at their own 25.
Relying on RB Joe Mixon, the Bengals just pounded the ball up against the Patriots defense for 4 consecutive plays up to the Cincinnati 39. Then on 2nd and 8, Mixon took the handoff and was about to be tackled for a 3-yard loss. Instead, he cut and avoided the defender before rumbling down the field for 29-yards to the New England 32.
After that big run, it was followed up with a 17-yard rub by backup RB Giovanni Bernard down to the New England 15. Bernard added 2 more runs after that, getting the ball down to the New England 8. On 3rd and 3 from the 8, QB Andy Dalton found TE Cethan Carter for an 8-yard touchdown pass. K Randy Bullock booted the PAT through the uprights as the game was tied 7-7 with 6:13 left in the 1st quarter.
After forcing the Patriots to punt, the Bengals got the ball back at their own 35. Just like on the first drive, the Bengals relied heavily on the ground game as 3 out of the first 4 plays on the drive were running plays. After a 17-yard pass from Dalton to TE Tyler Eifert to the New England 19, the Bengals were set up with a fresh set of downs in the red zone. Unfortunately for the Bengals, they only got as far as the New England 16. They had to settle for a field goal as Bullock booted the 34-yard attempt through the uprights to give his team a 10-7 lead with 14 seconds left in the half.
The Patriots got the ball back on their own 25 as they ended up getting as far as their own 32 before the end of the 1st quarter.
When the 2nd quarter began, the Patriots were faced with a 3rd and 3 from their own 32. QB Tom Brady was about to find WR N’Keal Harry for what appeared to be a 36-yard bomb to the Cincinnati 32 but it was called back due to a false start penalty by WR Julian Edelman. Still, Brady and Harry were able to hook up for an 8-yard pass to the New England 35 for a first down to keep the drive going.
The Patriots were able to get all the way down to the Cincinnati 35 but Brady’s pass to WR Mohammed Sanu went incomplete on 3rd and 4. Rather than attempt what would be a 52-yard field goal try, Patriots coach Bill Belichick elected to go for it on fourth down. But on fourth down, Brady’s pass to Sanu went off the receiver’s hands and incomplete as the Patriots turned the ball over on downs.
The Bengals ended up getting the ball back on their own 35 as Dalton and the offense came back onto the field. For the majority of the drive, the Bengals were yet again able to move the ball against the Patriots defense almost at will. The Bengals got all the way down to the New England 31 as Mixon ended up getting stuffed for 1 yard on 3rd and 2. Facing a 4th and 1 from the New England 30, Bengals coach Zac Taylor elected to go for it. However, Mixon ended up getting stuffed in the middle before he could get the first down, giving the Patriots the ball at their own 31.
The Patriots led the drive off with the running game as RB Sony Michel carried the ball for the first 3 plays of the drive for a total of 22 yards. After Michel’s last run, Brady found TE Matt LaCosse over the middle for 14 yards down to the Cincinnati 28. After 2 straight incompletions, Brady found Sanu over the middle for quick pass but Sanu was tackled at the Cincinnati 22, well short of the first down marker. Rather than go for it again on fourth down, Belichick elected to go for the field goal instead. Folk booted the 40-yard attempt through the uprights to tie the game as 10-10 with 3:51 left in the quarter.
After forcing the Bengals to punt, the Patriots got the ball back at their own 40. They were pushed back to their own 34 before being forced to punt. Bengals PR/WR Alex Erickson awaited the punt but instead muffed the punt. Patriots CB/ST Justin Bethel recovered the muffed punt at the Cincinnati 23, giving the Patriots the short field which they could easily score from.
But instead of a touchdown, the Patriots ended up settling for a field goal. Folk booted the 46-yard attempt through the uprights to give his team the 13-10 with 5 seconds left in the 1st half and that’s where the score stood.
When the 2nd half began, the Bengals got the ball at their own 25 to begin. After an incomplete pass on first down and a quick pass on 2nd down, the Bengals were faced with a 3rd and 4 from their own 29. Dalton dropped back to pass as he tried to find WR Tyler Boyd. Instead, Dalton found Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore for the interception at the Cincinnati 43.
From there, the Patriots offense was able to drive down the field against the Bengals defense. This included a 13-yard run by White to the Cincinnati 21 and then a quick pass from Brady to Michel for 14 yards down to the Cincinnati 7. On both first and second down, Brady’s pass went awry from his targets. Then on 3rd and goal from the 7, Brady was able to find Harry in the back of the endzone for the touchdown. Folk booted the PAT through the uprights as the Patriots’ lead extended to 20-10 with 11:17 left in the 3rd quarter.
The Bengals got the ball back on the ensuing kickoff as KR/CB Darius Phillips returned it to the Cincinnati 12. The Bengals wasted no time trying to get back into the game as Mixon lead the drive off with a 12-yard to the Cincinnati 24. Bernard followed that up with a 5-yard run to the Cincinnati 29 and then Dalton hooked up with WR Tyler Boyd for a 16-yard pass to the 45. Mixon then rumbled his way down the field for a combined 2 carried for 19 yards to the New England 36. After a 5-yard penalty on the offense, the Bengals were faced with a 1st and 15 from the New England 41. Dalton dropped back and looked to Boyd for a short pass. Instead, Gilmore jumped the route to intercept the ball. With nobody in front of or near him, Gilmore returned the interception all the way into the endzone for the touchdown. Folk booted the PAT through the uprights as the Patriots lead grew to 27-13 with 7:21 left in the 3rd quarter.
The two teams then traded punts with one another as the Bengal got the ball back on their own 28.
The Bengals opened their drive up with 2 running plays to Mixon for a combined 5 yards up to the Cincinnati 33. Then on 3rd and 5, Dalton found Eifert on a deep 24-yard pass to the New England 43. Three plays later, the Bengals were faced with another third down situation, a 3rd and 4 from the New England 37. Dalton dropped back and tried to find Erickson deep along the right sideline. Instead, the pass was picked off by Patriots CB J.C. Jackson at the New England 10.
The Patriots kept the ball for the remainder of the 3rd quarter and into the early goings of the 4th quarter before being forced to punt.
The Bengals got the ball back on their own 29 but with a little under 12:15 remaining in the game. Dalton lead the Bengals offense down the field, including converting a key 4th down at the New England 43 to keep the drive going. Unfortunately for the home team, the drive stalled out at the New England 25. A delay of game penalty was then followed by 3 straight incompletions as the Bengals were faced with 4th and 15 from the New England 30. Coach Taylor elected to kick the field goal as Bullock booted the 48-yard attempt through the uprights to make it 27-13 with 6:33 left in the game.
The Bengals tried to onside kick but one of the Bengals players ended up touching the ball before it went the full 10-yards, giving the Patriots the ball at the Cincinnati 40.
After a quick 2-yard pass from Brady to LaCosse to the Cincinnati 38, the Patriots were faced with 2nd and 8. Brady found Sanu over the middle to the Cincinnati 23 but the ball was knocked out of his hands by Bengals S Jessie Bates. Bengals CB B.W. Webb picked up the lose ball and was able to return it to the Cinncinati 48 as the Bengals got the big play they needed.
Or so they thought.
Bengals DE Carl Lawson ended up getting an Illegal Use of the Hands penalty called on him, wiping the Bengals fumble recovery and giving the Patriots the ball back and a first down at the Cincinnati 33.
Then on the ensuing play, Brady handed the ball off to RB Rex Burkhead. Burkhead ran right up the middle, juked a Bengals defender, and was off to the races for a 33-yard touchdown run. Folk booted the PAT through the uprights as the Patriots took a commanding 34-13 with 5:31 left in the game.
After the two teams traded punts with one another, the Bengals got the ball back at their own 20 with a little over 4 minutes left in the game.
With the aide of two costly penalties against the Patriots defense, the Bengals were able to move the ball into Patriot territory without taking too much time off the game clock. Dalton dropped back to pass and was looking for WR John Ross III deep down the left side line. But instead of Ross, Dalton found Jackson for the 2nd time in the game as the Patriots corner intercepted the pass at the New England 13 and brought it back to the New England 26.
From then on out, the Patriots just simply ran the clock out with running plays including Burkhead getting 6 yards on a 3rd and 6 after the two-minute warning. With no timeouts remaining for the Bengals, Brady simply did 2 kneel downs to run out the clock.
When the clock read 0:00, the Patriots were able to celebrate their 34-13 victory over the 1-12 Bengals. Though the quality of the opponent was something left to be desired, it was a much-needed victory for the Patriots to help them break their 2-game losing streak as well as clinch a playoff spot.
Patriot Statistical Standouts
QB Tom Brady: 15-for-29 (51.7 completion %) for 128 yards and 2 TD for a QB rating of 86.6
RB Sony Michel: 19 carries for 89 yards (4.7 yards per carry), 1 catch (on 2 targets) for 14 yards
RB James White: 3 carries for 13 yards (4.3 yards per carry), 3 catches (on 4 targets) for 49 yards and 1 TD
K Nick Folk: 2-for-2 on FG, 4-for-4 on XP for a total of 10 points
P Jake Bailey: 5 punts for 241 yards (48.2 avg), 1 touchback
CB Stephon Gilmore: 2 tackles (2 solo, 1 assist), 2 INTs, 1 INT TD, 4 passes defended
CB J.C. Jackson: 3 tackles (3 solo, 0 assist), 2 INTs, 3 passes defended
Numbers! Numbers! Numbers!
38 – The number of points K Nick Folk has this year with the Patriots, a team high so far
6 – The total amount of interceptions by CB Stephon Gilmore, a new career high
136 – The number of rushing yards by Bengals RB Joe Mixon, the most rushing yards allowed by the Patriots defense to a single players in 2019
538 – The number of career passing touchdowns by QB Tom Brady in the regular season, putting him 2nd all-time behind QB Peyton Manning (539)
16 – The number of seasons Brady has thrown 20 TD passes or more, a new NFL record
86.5 – The current QB rating of Brady, the lowest QB rating in a single season he’s had since 2003
11 – The number of consecutive playoff births the Patriots have had since 2009, the longest streak in franchise history
Interesting Tidbits of the Game
- After today’s game, Tom Brady has thrown 538 TD passes in the regular season. That puts him currently 2nd all-time in NFL history behind QB Peyton Manning (539) pending on how many touchdowns New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees throws in his game against the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football
- Currently Tom Brady’s passer rating is sitting at 85.6. That’s the 5th lowest passer rating among qualified starters in the NFL
- With their victory over the Bengals, the Patriots clenched a playoff spot. This was the 11th consecutive season that the Patriots had clinched a playoff spot (since 2009) and the 17th time under the tenure of coach Bill Belichick
- Gilmore’s ‘Pick 6’ in the 3rd quarter was actually his 2nd of the 2019 season and the 2nd of his NFL career
Fox Fist Bump
After no recipients of the ‘Fox Fist Bump’ last week, this week I gotta give out 2.
The first one goes to K Nick Folk for his performance. He was perfect from the field, going 2-for-2 for field goals (including a 46-yarder) as 4-for-4 on XPs for a total of 10 points for the game. It’s been a bumpy road for the Patriots in the kicking game this season but at least Folk has provided some sort of stability and consistency.
Then the next one goes to CB Stephon Gilmore.
Remember when the Patriots were criticized for signing Gilmore to that hefty contract back in 2017? Remember how he struggled during like the first half of the season and looked out of place?
Well now you can tack on, “Remember when Gilmore set new career highs back in 2019 in interceptions and in pick 6s?”
Gilmore played like the All-Pro cornerback he was, shutting down Bengals receivers as well as just having a nose for the ball. He picked off QB Andy Dalton twice, including a pick 6 where he could have just moonwalked into the endzone and nobody would still be able to stop him.
The Meatball of the Week
The Meatball of the Week is gonna be given to the Patriots run defense.
All season long, the Patriots defense has been getting praised for its ability to be able to get to opposing quarterbacks, force turnovers, and even score points. Yet when it comes to the running game, they leave a lot to be desired.
Again, the Patriots got exposed and torched by the running game of their opponent. Bengals RB Joe Mixon seemed to have his way just bowling over defenders and making them miss tackles to become the 4th rusher this year to surpass the century mark against the Patriots (136 yards on 25 carries).
The Patriots defense lucked out on the fact that they were able to get up by 2 scores in the 3rd quarter to force the Bengals to rely on QB Andy Dalton to bail them out. If the game was closer, the Bengals could have just rid more on the run game and Mixon.
Nevertheless, the Patriots need to fix this problem ASAP before the playoffs begin.
Play of the Game
Gilmore Leading the Way
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