Here’s what stood out from our vantage point in the Paul Brown Stadium press box Sunday afternoon:
...Bill Belichick talked last week about the disruptive force that is Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins. The d-tackle made an immediate impact by sacking
...The Bengals wasted no time testing New England’s thin defensive tackle front. They ran the ball up the middle their first four plays, but eventually had to punt. New England responded by running more traditional “base” defense looks than they’ve shown in the previous four games.
...The dreaded “double-clutch” is something rookie WR
...The Patriots defense continues to experiment successfully with
...The running game also seemed to be an emphasis for the Patriots in the early going, as it was a week earlier in Atlanta.
...On their third drive, the Bengals tried a little read-option offense with QB Andy Dalton. The play went for a decent gain, but we didn’t see that again from Cincinnati the rest of the day.
...Brady had a brain cramp on the very next series when he elected not to throw a pass in the flat to a wide-open fullback
...The Patriots worked wide receiver
...A great play by Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap caused LeGarrette Blount to fumble just outside the Cincy red zone in the second quarter, as New England was mounting its best drive of the first half. He came from behind and swatted the ball out of Blount’s right arm. The ball carrier never saw it coming. Cincinnati recovered.
...Spikes made a nice tackle-for-loss on the ensuing Bengals drive.
...Dalton didn’t throw to one of his receivers until the 6-minute mark of the second quarter. It was a completion on a nice lofting pass to A.J. Green, who’d gotten separation from CB
...Coming off his best-ever performance as a Patriot, Talib had an up-and-down day vs Cincy’s top receiver, A.J. Green (mostly down). He surrendered a couple of first-half passes to Green, but started the second half with a very nice pass defense along the Patriots sideline.Talib jammed Green at the line, disrupting the pass route and giving Talib better position on the ball. He then made a diving effort to knock the ball away. Great job all around by Talib. Despite that play, Green got the better of Talib on the afternoon. Talib seemed to concede as much in the locker room afterward. Green caught five of eight passes thrown his way for 61 yards against Talib.
...Rookie defensive tackle
...Continuing a recent trend, the first half transpired at a rapid pace, thanks to a focus on rushing the ball by both teams.
...What started as a washout with heavy, steady downpours all morning turned into a relatively pleasant afternoon in Cincinnati. Thankfully, the weather was not as much of a factor as had been forecast. The play of the two offenses, however, was lousy in the first half. The Bengals and Patriots punters were the first-half MVPs for their respective teams. The rains returned in the final minutes of the contest, and may have contributed to some of the dropped passes by Patriots receivers in those latter stages.
...Brady’s indecision led to yet another Patriots punt on their first drive of the second half. Facing a 3rd-and-9, Brady had at least two receivers open, but held onto the ball, backed up in the pocket, and was eventually sacked. Very uncharacteristic of him. He was not himself most of the day, throwing passes too high, too low, or too far behind his receivers too often.
...The already-thin d-tackle spot took a big hit when veteran
...Really surprised the Patriots didn’t challenge an Amendola catch midway through the fourth quarter that looked at first like a touchdown. Amendola made a tremendously athletic move to contort his body to snag a pass thrown behind him, then rolled into the end zone. A Bengals defender tapped him on the helmet, but it looked like Amendola might have gotten across the goal line beforehand.
...The Bengals took advantage of Kelly’s absence late in the game by running directly into the middle of the New England defense, challenging the two rookies on the line. Cincy fumbled to give New England a chance late, though.
...Kevin Huber, the Bengals punter, may have saved the game with his 57-yard punt from deep in his own territory late in the 4th. It backed New England up to its own 35-yard line and put New England farther back than they'd hoped with time dwindling.
...Brady and his receivers appeared not to be on the same page on the final drive, which ended in No. 12 throwing an interception. It looked, on at least two plays, like Brady was expecting one type of route and his receiver read another. The result was Brady throwing into an area that had only Bengals defending and making an easy interception to end the game.