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Tom Brady and offense struggle, but Patriots hold 10-7 lead over Bengals at halftime

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The Patriots offense hasn’t been able to make headway against the Bengals

The New England Patriots welcomed the Cincinnati Bengals to Gillette Stadium for QB Tom Brady’s home opener of 2016. The Bengals won the coin toss and elected to defer, so the Patriots received the opening kick off.

Brady looked sharp on the opening drive as the Patriots marched down the field on the back of a nice 32-yard pass to TE Rob Gronkowski. However, the Bengals defense tightened up in coverage and Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski was forced to kick a 46-yard field for a 3-0 lead.

After a nice kickoff by Gostkowski with coverage that forced the Bengals to start on their 16-yard line, the Patriots defense went to work. Rookie LB Elandon Roberts got the start and he immediately made plays all over the field. The Patriots forced a 4th and loooong 1 at midfield and the Bengals decided to punt.

The Patriots offense took over and started to march down the field again. However, once the Patriots crossed midfield, WR Chris Hogan was flagged for holding and the drive stalled and New England punted.

The Bengals started their drive and Roberts almost ended the drive with a nice pass break-up, but a very tacky illegal use of hands call against CB Logan Ryan extended the Bengals drive and Cincinnati dink and dunked their way down the field.

Patriots fans held up cards in support of breast cancer awareness month.

The Patriots allowed the Bengals to move the ball with short passes underneath and Dalton started the game 10/10 for 93 yards, with RB Gio Bernard responsible for 64 of the first 133 yards.

The Bengals made it all the way to the goal line, but a fantastic goal line stand by the Patriots run defense and a nice pass break-up by CB Malcolm Butler in coverage of WR A.J. Green led to a 4th-and-1 attempt by Cincinnati. DT Alan Branch and DT Anthony Johnson recorded the tackle for loss and the Patriots retained their 3-0 lead. Unfortunately, Roberts suffered a head injury and is questionable to return.

The Patriots were forced to punt after a sack allowed by RG Shaq Mason, and a draw play to RB James White on 3rd and 12 earned some boos from those at Foxboro.

The New England defense looked tired and uninspiring, which is a testament to the energy that LB Jamie Collins brings to the squad- and the result of a poor offensive performance. Bengals QB Andy Dalton hit Green for a 22-yard gain and then another 14-yard gain to set the Bengals up on the 2-yard line. Dalton scrambled in for an easy score as the Bengals grabbed a 7-3 lead.

With their backs against the wall, the Patriots responded with an expert-level 2-minute drill. Brady connected with White to move the chains, while a big 39-yard pass to WR Chris Hogan set the Patriots up on the 15-yard line. Brady dumped another pass off to White, who scampered into the end zone as the Patriots took a 10-7 lead, with one minute left in the half. White has 52 yards and a touchdown on 10 touches.

The Patriots forced a punt on the Bengals next drive and opted to go into the half with a 10-7 lead.

The Patriots need more out of WR Julian Edelman in the second half; he has just 49 yards on 14 targets with Brady back under center over the past six quarters. WR Chris Hogan has one big catch for 38 yards on Sunday and should see more opportunities in the second half, while TE Martellus Bennett hasn’t seen much time on the field at all. Mason has been the weak link of the offensive line.

The defense has been fine- the Bengals have just 7 points on the day- but they’re clearly tired as the offense hasn’t been able to give them any rest on the sideline. It would be nice to see the defense clean up on third down and they need to find a response to RB Gio Bernard, but if the Bengals are able to win with Bernard as the engine of their offense, then the Patriots offense failed to uphold their end of the bargain.

The Bengals get the ball after the half.