The Patriots played host to a hot Cincinnati Bengals team yesterday, one that desperately needed a win to keep its playoff hopes alive. At 6-6, the Bengals came to Foxboro winners of four out of their last five, including an improbable come from behind win against the Baltimore Ravens a week ago.
While the Bengals did a good job of hanging around, the Patriots attack proved too much, as the champs held on for a 35-28 win. Check out game reviews from Nick Cafardoof The Boston Globe, Michael Felgerof The Boston Herald, Tom Curranof The Providence Journal, Alan Greenbergof* The Hartford Courant, Michael Parenteof *The Woonsocket Call, and Mike Loweof The Portland Press Herald.
On to the big news of the day….
As we write,Charlie Weis is standing at a podium in South Bend, Indiana, having just been announced as the new head football coach at Notre Dame University. Weis is expected to remain in his role as Patriots offensive coordinator until the end of the season, while beginning his duties as the Irish's top man. This is generally an important time for college recruitment, so it remains to be seen how Weis will approach his double-duty.
Weis, who considers Bill Parcells his greatest influence, worked for the Patriots both under Parcells and Bill Belichick.
Jackie MacMullen of the Globe takes on the Weis story, crediting the offensive mastermind with fueling the development of players like Curtis Martin and Tom Brady. Also on the Weis beat is Felger, Mike Reissof The MetroWest Daily News, Parente, and Tim Weisberg of The Standard Times.
If the Weis story has done anything, it has at the very least overshadowed the main on-field story line of the week: Corey Dillon rushing against a Bengals team for which he toiled for seven seasons. Before the Weis story broke, all anyone seemed to want to talk about was Dillon. Dillon, conversely, refused to discuss the issue last week, as did his teammates.
The day came yesterday, and Dillon made the most of it. Dillon carried 22 times for 88 yards and the game's first touchdown, setting the tone against his former 'mates. Dillon also helped put the game away in the fourth by rushing for a first down with nearly three minutes to go.
Fluto Shinzawa of the Globe, Paul Kenyonof the Journal, Greenberg, and Dan Piresof the Times replay Dillon's day in their respective papers.
The play of yesterday's game seems to be unanimous. Early in the third quarter yesterday, Tom Brady dropped back to pass, and tripped over Dillon. Brady rose to a seated position, and noticing there were no defenders in the immediate area, fired a pass towards the sideline. Patrick Pass was there, and while the play went for just seven yards, it was Brady's wherewithal that excited the crowd. Michael Vegaof the Globe, Kevin Mannixof the Herald, Curran, Reiss, and Lowe detail the unusual play.
Also making more news yesterday was two-way warrior Troy Brown. Brown made two catches for 27 yards in his usual role as wide receiver, but did even more on the other side of the ball. As a defensive back, Brown made two tackles, defensed a pass, and made his third interception of the season. The interception ties Brown with Eugene Wilson for the team lead, an unbelievable fact considering Brown was trained to play D-back just before this season. Rich Thompsonof the Herald and Jim Donaldsonof the Journal sing the praises of the Pats throwback gamer.
Frank Dell'Apa of the Globe gives credit to the defense for creating turnovers at very opportune times. Brown's pick came in the end zone, and Rodney Harrison forced a fumble at the 12-yard line on the Bengals opening drive. That fumble, which came as Cincinnati steamrolled towards the Patriots end zone, enabled the Patriots to continue their streak of scoring first in games, which now stands at 18 in a row.
Dan Venturaof the Herald chronicles the other turnover the Patriots forced yesterday. The Patriots took a 14-7 lead with eight and a half minutes to go in the first half. On the Bengals next play, Carson Palmer threw to T.J Houshmanzadeh on the right sideline. Patriots defensive back Asante Samuel, who missed the last two games with a banged-up shoulder, stepped in front of the pass and took it 34 yards to the house, giving the Patriots a 21-7 lead.
Paul Harber of the Globe writes on Bengals QB Palmer, who looked fairly good before a knee injury took him out of the game in the second half. Palmer, who was injured by a Richard Seymour tackle, finished with 202 passing yards, 2 scores, and the pick, before giving way to veteran back-up Jon Kitna.
In his notebook, Felger contends Seymour was the lone bright spot on the Patriots defense yesterday. Though he had only three tackles, he drew three separate holding calls, which cost the Bengals many crucial yards.
Michael O'Connor of the Herald lauds David Patten for stepping up in the absence of David Givens, the team's leading receiver. Patten made five catches for 107 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown strike from Brady.
In the Journal, Kenyon describes a similarly timely performance from the tight ends. Christian Fauriaand Jed Weaver saw significant time against the Bengals with starting tight end Daniel Graham out with a rib injury. The pair combined for five catches, including a 17-yard touchdown catch by Fauria.
In The Union Leader, Ian Clark provides his notebook. Clark reviews the game, looks at possible replacements for Weis, updates Dillon's pursuit of the New England rushing record, and gives game MVP honors to Brady.