Patriots vs. Bengals: Fan Notes from the Game

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Notes, musings, and observations from The New England Patriots' 13-6 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Have you ever played a game of Skee-Ball where no matter what you did, how you threw it, or how many tokens you spent, you just couldn't get the ball to go into the 50 point ring? Everyone knows that the 100 point rings are for suckers and the game is always won and lost with the 50 point play, so any Skee-Ball player worth his salt is aware that soft tosses for the center ring is the key to victory, points, and tickets that can then be exchanged for Koosh Balls and slap bracelets and Garbage Pail Kids cards (and their ensuing non-early 90s arcade prize equivalents). However, some days, no matter how close you get and how sweet your release is, you just can't hit the 50 point ring to save your life. You play, you collect your 10 tickets, and you debate not even bothering to cash them in and instead giving them to a kid who is actually saving towards the 500,000 tickets he'll need to get the XBox 360, but then you remember that you're a selfish jerk and spend your tickets on a cheap plastic plane or squeaking duck that you immediately throw away upon leaving the arcade, the foul taste in your mouth and promise of a prize that wasn't still as pungent and strong as ever.


And while yesterday's 13-6 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals ultimately isn't the end of the world, it isn't any easier to swallow. The Patriots looked godawful on offense. They couldn't finish. They were unable to generate scoring chances. Tom Brady's touchdown streak came to an end. There was absolutely nothing positive to take away from the offensive performance. And yet in spite of it all, the Patriots still found a way to find themselves in it late. The defense did everything they possibly could to give the offense as many chances as possible to score some points and get in the end zone, but that 50 point ring remained completely elusive and New England laid a big fat turd in a winnable game.

It wasn't all bad, but I'll get deeper into that later on. Let's just get to the notes ASAP and put this game behind us.
  • I heard a certain stat today about what has historically happened to every single Belichick/Brady led Patriots team that starts the season 4-0. There's absolutely no way I'll be repeating that stat here, as my bad football juju is as strong as it has ever been this year, but that doesn't mean it isn't out there.
  • Interesting to see the Patriots win the coin toss and elect to receive. Sure did pay off with that three and out. Nice return, Leon. And glad to see you immediately hurt again after just one return.
  • Geno Atkins didn't waste any time lighting Tommy B up, did he? How the hell does that guy come in unblocked like that?
  • I'm all for the pink in support of breast cancer awareness - but do we really need pink flags, too? I don't think that keeping the flags yellow will suddenly make us less aware of the risks of breast cancer.
  • How long did it take the Patriots to miss Vince Wilfork in run support? All of one Cincinnati play. I'm just glad that it was BenJarvus Green-Ellis out there. Still got a soft spot in my heart for Benny.
  • The size of Benny's running lanes to start this game were big enough for the man who used to occupy said hole to run through untouched.
  • I'm way more excited than I should be for Anchorman 2.
  • The second sack Tommy B took wasn't on the offensive line; the Bengals showed blitz and Brady didn't call out the proper blocking assignment - which is odd, because Cincy didn't even try to disguise it. I'm hoping I can chalk that up to Brady just having that much confidence in his linemen.
  • New England's defense is no joke. Being able to keep games close for as long as Tommy B needs to figure out a defensive scheme - say, the entire game, for example - is something we haven't seen since 2006.
  • I forget who Greg Gumbell was talking to as they wired in another commentator for an around the league update, but whoever it wads finished that conversation with "Thank you for lending us Dan Dierdorf for the pregame show." That actually makes sense. I imagine Dierdorf spends his time in between Sundays happily tagging along on a leash, being led wherever Greg Gumbell takes him.
  • It's drops like Brandon Bolden's on that wide open screen that kill this team the most. Nobody around, plenty of daylight, huge play on the horizon, and the ball hits the turf. It happens at least once a game and it needs to stop.
  • Jermaine Gresham juked Dont'a Hightower out of his shorts. I feel like I should just copy the phrase "juked Dont'a Hightower out of his shorts" before I even start this article every week so I can paste it in when it inevitably happens week in and week out.
  • Andy Dalton had as much business throwing that Brandon Spikes pick as I have taking my shirt off at the beach. But, much like Andy with that throw, I do it anyway. I just can't allow myself to become one of those huge white t-shirt guys who looks like a sinking tanker filled with milk whenever I go in the water. I'm saving that level of giving up on life for when I hit 40.
  • If you're a Boston sports fan (and I imagine most of you are), you'll know that beards have been getting a lot of attention in around here as the Red Sox make their World Series push. And with so much love being given to Gomes, Napoli, and Victorino, nobody seems to have noticed that Spikes has himself some absolutely killer facial hair. Well I'm going to go ahead and remedy that. Nice beard, Brandon.
  • "Tom Brady just threw that ball out of bounds. That's an incompletion." Holy jeez do I love Dan Dierdorf.
  • More accuracy issues for Tommy B yesterday. He also tried to force a few questionable balls into coverage. It may be that he feels that he has to place his throws perfectly where they need to be due to the inexperience of his receivers and is overcompensating as a result; with veterans, there is the comfort of knowing that both receiver and quarterback will be making the same defensive read, which thus allows a little more liberty regarding ball placement.
  • Kind of a weak horsecollar on Hoo-Man there.
  • Literally two seconds after the LeGarrette Blount fumble, I saw a guy in the stands with a Patriots hat on and a t-shirt that said "19-0." If that isn't a horrible omen, I don't know what is.
  • A well-executed quick slant route is virtually undefendable.
  • Chris Jones with a sack! Look at that! At least if you're going to have an anonymous guy fill-in for your All-Star Nose tackle, it doesn't get more anonymous than being a guy named "Chris Jones."
  • Maybe it's just me...but when I watch a commercial for a prescription drug that includes "fatal bleeding" as a side effect, I immediately remove said drug from my treatment options.
  • One of Jerod Mayo's most underrated skills is shedding blocks. When you make as many tackles as Mayo does, it's easy to forget that in order to be in position to make the play you have to get away from the guy trying to stop you.
  • Do you think that NFL refs have to pass any kind of throwing test before they are allowed to work in the league? Do you think that every NFL ref can throw a decent spiral?
  • Brandon Spikes on that suicide blitz is either a loss of five yards or a 10 yard gain.
  • Odds are that if Tommy B hasn't had a chance to settle by the end of the third quarter, he isn't about to settle in the 4th.
  • And of course Brady's TD streak has to come to an end the week before he had the chance to go up against the man who he is chasing.
  • It looks like the Cincinnati owner's box is significantly nicer than the one at Gillette. Was Bob Kraft sitting in a recliner?
  • Towards the end of the third quarter, Cincy completely stopped disguising blitzes and just brought pressure at will. New England just didn't have an answer for it. All the credit in the world to the Bengals D in this game.
  • When the Bengals go from their own 1 yard line to the New England 42 in two plays, you know it just isn't your day.
  • When Shane Vereen, Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, Vince Wilfork, and Tommy Kelly go down for an extended period of time, you start to think that it just might not be your season.
  • Luckily, it would appear that Kelly is going to be OK. Still, I'd like to see some more big guys brought in to supplement what is now a dangerously thin line.
  • More credit to the Bengals for playing an incredibly disciplined game yesterday. Not only were there very few flags thrown, but Cincy maintained gap assignments, stuck to the game plan, and didn't deviate from what was working for them.
  • Good lord, Aaron Dobson. Please don't do that to me again.
  • Didn't the Patriots bring in Blount specifically for crucial short yardage plays?
  • PleasepleasepleasepleasePLEASE come back, Gronk. Fade routes to Julian Edelman in the end zone aren't going to cut it.
  • I knew Nate Solder would get a pass thrown his way eventually - just wish he had been able to catch it.
  • How pissed must Aaron Rodgers be that he agreed to let State Farm use his end zone dance in their ad campaign? It's not like he needs extra money, and by the time that ad has run its course nobody will even remember where it came from.
  • Tough to fault the D for getting gashed on the ground when they needed a quick stop; who was left on the line stout against the run? New England just got straight-up manhandled up front and it isn't really their fault.
  • Now I know how the Miami Dolphins felt last year when the Patriots ran out the clock. Me no like.
  • DEVIN MCCOURTY! I have been waiting to write your name in all caps all season!
  • Aaaaaand it was completely pointless. All right.
  • Be honest, though - who was surprised that the Pats went three and out following that fumble recovery? As if New England was going to magically figure the defense out.
  • The fact that Tommy B's first throw after getting the ball back was a deep Go to Aaron Dobson shows a tremendous amount of trust in him and that he isn't afraid to go to the rookie when it matters. That's a huge takeaway from this game and something that is only going to improve with time.
  • In order for Tommy B to generate a 4th quarter drive, he needs players who can make plays when it matters most, and they just aren't there yet.
  • These roughing the passer calls are straight-up absurd. Part of me is actually glad that such a ridiculous penalty didn't end up costing the Bengals the game. A very, very small part.
  • When your only DTs are Chris Jones and Joe Vellano and your game MVP is Ryan Allen...yeah that means you lost the game.
  • Hey...4-1 is still 4-1. Could be a lot worse.
  • To the Cincy fans who find themselves on this blog today - as that's what some fans (Pats fans included) absolutely love to do, go to an opposing team's website and bathe in their tears before leaving some sort of bogus "good game" comment on the message boards to make themselves seem like they aren't just here to gloat - a huge congrats to you guys. Helluva game and helluva game plan. No time to cry about it; there's an unbelievably tough opponent ahead of us, and if the Pats play like they played yesterday on offense, we'll all be staring down the barrel of consecutive losses for the second straight season.
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