]()The first notes of the night came with the pre-game scratch list and starting lineup changes. Rohan Davey was announced as the starter for Tom Brady. Additionally, 16 players were listed as not dressing for the game including Troy Brown, Ty Warren, Richard Seymour, David Terrell and Benjamin Watson. As it turned out, Tom Brady and Deion Branch were other notables who didn't suit up.
While Davey got the start, it was Cassel replacing Davey in the second quarter and going the rest of the way. Twenty of the Patriots 23 points came with him at the helm. His numbers: 13 of 21 passing for 135 yards and a touchdown along with 46 yards rushing on 5 scrambles.
The Bengals began the game with Carson Palmer looking deep to Chad Johnson. New England had excellent coverage on the Cincy star and Asante Samuel had the first interception of the preseason.
That brought Davey on for his first series. After a couple runs by Corey Dillon and two completes, 6 yards to Christian Fauria and 12 to David Givens, Davey was sacked and then overthrew Givens to force a punt.
Another Davey drive ended with him being intercepted by Deltha O'Neal on a ball intended for Bam Childress. Earlier, Dillon knocked off a 20-yard gain with rookie Logan Mankins clearing the way by taking on two Bengals.
Mankins played well into the second quarter at left guard and had a decent showing. He looked lost on one play, getting in Dillon's way more than blocking for him but overall, not bad for No. 70.
With two thirds of the Patriots starting defensive line out, the Bengals took advantage by pounding the ball on their second try. By the end of the series, Rudi Johnson had 6 carries for 40 yards for the game but a third and 3 pass from Palmer fell incomplete and Carter Warley was no good on a 43-yard field goal attempt.
]()Later, in the second quarter, Worley was good from the same distance to put the Bengals up, 3-0.
Stopping the run up the middle was a concern going into the preseason and nothing the Patriots did in the first half made it any less of a concern. With Seymour and Warren out, a fair evaluation can't yet be made but it's something that will warrant a lot of film review this week.
Adam Vinatieri tied the game on the Patriots next try with a 48-yarder of his own. The drive was basically the Patrick Pass show who had six straight plays go his way, a combination of runs and short passes from Davey. In all, the drive went eight plays and 39 yards.
Jon Kitna replaced Palmer and engineered a drive down to the New England 7. Kitna then threw one away and just missed hooking up with Matt Schobel in the end zone. Shayne Graham connected on a 25-yard field goal to make the score 6-3.
The first passing attempt for Matt Cassel ended with him on the ground, sacked by Bryan Robinson as the first half went under four minutes left. He bounced back nicely completing four straight passes for 32 yards.
A 4-yard completion to Jason Anderson on third and 3 brought on the two-minute warning.
After a 6-yard scramble, Cassel missed on two throws and again scrambled, this time on third and 4 for a gain of 8 yards and a first down. After a little dump off pass to Pass for 8 yards, Cassel ran for the third time, showing good mobility and poise as he eluded several diving Bengals on the way to a 12-yard gain. On both of his last two runs, Cassel lost the ball as he hit the ground but both were ruled down by contact.
Now at the Cincy 20 with :24 left in the half, Cassel rolled left and was nearly picked off by Reggie Myles. But on the very next play, Cassel found Anderson and the youngster made a nice move to shake his lone defender and trotted into the end zone.
Cassel's drive stats were 6 of 10 for 60 yards and the score. He also ran for 26 yards.
The half ended with New England up, 10-6.
Cassel opened the second half with another scoring drive. A third and 17 completion to Bam Childress that Childress did a nice job of picking up some yards after the catch wound up as a gain of 23. Cassel ran for another 20 yards on two scrambles but on third and goal from the 4, he was sacked for a loss of 7. Vinatieri was good from 29 yards to make the score 13-6, Patriots.
After some nice pass defense by Hank Poteat and the rest of the Patriots defenders, Cassel drove down the field for the third straight time. This time the big play came on the ground, a 28-yard run by Kory Chapman around left end. In the end, though, it was Vinatieri with a 42-yard field goal after a holding call on New England stopped the drive.
Tim Dwight made a nice play fielding the punt that began the drive. He had to hustle to make the catch and then returned it 16 yards to the Cincy 41.
The third quarter ended with New England still on offense and up 16-6. Chapman was running well to that point with 7 carries and 44 yards. On defense, Monty Beisel was still in the game, looking active at middle linebacker.
Marquise Hill had a nice play early in the fourth quarter, sacking Casey Bramlet and then recovering the fumble. That play gave Cassel the ball in Bengal territory but on the next snap, Cassel was hit from behind by Langston Moore and lost the ball himself. Moore recovered and Cincinnati began to march.
Poteat was called for a 33-yard pass interference and the Bengals had the ball at the New England 9. On third and goal from the 3, Bramlet lobbed a pass to Chris Henry right at the goal line for the score.
That pulled Cincinnati within 3 at 16-13 with 7:21 left to play.
Cassel regained the 10-point lead, cruising down the field on the drive that followed. An 11 yard pass to Eugene Baker, 18 to Chapman (who made most of the yards on individual effort), Childress twice for 8 yards each and a 7-yard run by Chapman put the ball at the 14. Anthony Mitchell was called for a pass interference on Baker, taking the ball to the 4. From there, Kyle Eckel ran the ball in up the middle for the final score of the game.
Notes: Kory Chapman had a nice night running with 13 carries for 62 yards and another 18 yards receiving on 2 catches. ... Ellis Hobbs played most of the game, finishing with 4 unassisted tackles and showing good form in the process. ... Chad Brown had 4 tackles from his inside linebacker spot in first half play. ... Patrick Pass led all Patriots receivers with 4 receptions for 40 yards but it was Childress (3 for 39, long of 23) that looked best in the open field.