By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
Final, 35-17 Patriots: That’s all she wrote from Foxboro, as the clock has run out and the Patriots have doubled up the Bengals.
Thanks for following. The Patriots are 5-1, and we’ll see you next weekend.
Fourth quarter, :57, 35-17 Patriots: The Patriots could have taken a knee. But that’s no fun. They instead handed to Blount, who ran off the left edge and rumbled into the end zone.The crowd erupted, as did Blount himself, but … it came back on replay review. He was down at the 1-foot line, as it turns out. Sort of. It wasn’t conclusive where the ball was when his elbow touched, but it was probably short of the goal line.
So Brady instead went for the QB sneak on third-and- goal from the goal line, and he never had a chance really.
That brought up fourth-and-goal from the goal line. Brady handed to Blount, who went up and over the line to get the touchdown he deserved.
The Bengals being the Bengals, a scuffle broke out after the play. Blount shoved Burfict, flags flew. It was a mess. It was most certainly unnecessary roughness (perhaps the very definition of it) but it came on a guy who tried to end Bennett’s season a couple of drives ago. So we at least know where it comes from.
Burfict waved at James White on his way off the field, as if Burfict had won something? Hard to say what’s going through his mind.
But the bottom line is that the Patriots have doubled up the Bengals on the scoreboard.
Fourth quarter, 2:00, 28-17 Patriots: That’s how you close out a football game right there. It began with a 23-yard punt return by Edelman. He then took a handoff on an end-around, gaining eight yards, followed by a 9-yard run by Blount. The Bengals tried to get Blount to engage in some funny business post-whistle, as that was about their only hope, but Blount toed the line well enough to avoid penalty.
After the Bengals burned their final two timeouts, Brady threw to Edelman on a crossing pattern on third down, picking up 13 yards ang etting some extra yardage on a facemask penalty by Dre Kirkpatrick.
It’s the two-minute warning now, with a second-and-goal from the 5-yard line coming up. The Patriots can just kneel it and kick a field goal, or they could try to punch it in and really twist the knife against a team that’s tried to engage them in some fights in this fourth quarter.
Fourth quarter, 3:32, 28-17 Patriots: The Patriots’ defense just finished it off. On first-and-10 following a first-down pickup, Branch and Hightower came through at full steam to destroy Gio Bernard. They flattened him for a loss of there. On third-and-13, Sheard and Hightower charged through the line and sacked Dalton for a huge loss, forcing Cincinnati to punt.
The Bengals are technically still alive, though their chances of victory have to sit at about .1 percent right now.
Fourth quarter, 6:04, 28-17 Patriots: Things certainly got interesting on that drive, with Vontaze Burfict improbably lured Gronkowski into committing a taunting penalty. This came after Burfict got in Gronkowski’s face following a deep catch over the middle which left Adam Jones down in pain over the middle of the field. Brady went back to Gronkowski on the next play, and a whole mini-fracas broke out, with multiple Bengals players leaving the sideline to join.
Yet somehow it was Gronkowski who drew the 15-yard penalty, pushing the Patriots back to a first-and-goal from the 22-yard line. They couldn’t get it in the end zone from there, but Gostkowski hit a 31-yard field goal to stretch the lead back to 11.
Fourth quarter, 12:34, 25-17 Patriots: Eric Rowe is playing his first game as a Patriot. He just broke up a pass in the end zone intended for A.J. Green. Not bad, not bad.
The Bengals got down inside the 10-yard line on a very nice pitch and catch from Dalton to Boyd up the right seam. Ryan was basically inside of Boyd’s arms, so it was a pretty beautiful connection.
But on second-and-2 from the Patriots’ 7 yard line, Ninkovich got into the backfield and pulled down Hill from behind. Dalton lofted one to the corner for Green on third down, but Rowe was able to extend his arm and break it up.
Nugent came on for the field goal, making this an 8-point game. The Gostkowski miss could prove crucial in this one if the Bengals tie it up on a touchdown and a two-point conversion.
End of third quarter, 25-14 Patriots:The quarter draws to a close after Jeremy Hill converts on a fourth-and-1 near midfield that the Bengals desperately needed. Woodrow Hamilton was injured on the play.
It’ll be first-and-10 from the New England 46-yard line when the fourth quarter begins.
Third quarter, 2:58, 25-14 Patriots: Rob Gronkowski is just a monster of a man. He’s playing through an illness, but you’d never know it. He just ran right past Vontaze Burfict, and Brady knew exactly how and when the tight end would break free, hitting him in stride up the right seam for what turned into a 38-yard gain.
Brady then connected with Bennett for 11 yards, and two plays later he hit an open James White on the right side for another all-too-easy touchdown.
And in news that will set off some alarms, Stephen Gostkowski missed the extra point. Just missed it left.
Third quarter, 4:33, 19-14 Patriots: The Bengals just went three-and-out in a matter of seconds. Their three plays took just 16 seconds off the clock and gained zero yards on three incompletions. The punt was then short, allowing Edelman to catch it with a head of steam behind him. He brought it to midfield on the 9-yard return, and the Patriots take over at their own 47-yard line looking to turn this into a two-possession game.
Third quarter, 5:00, 19-14 Patriots: It’s last week all over again, as the Patriots have gone to the two-tight end attack. The results were immediate.
Brady found an uncovered Bennett up the right seam for a 24-yard gain to open the drive. Three plays later on a third-and-8, Brady waited as Gronkowski ran across the field wide open, eventually hitting him in stride and letting him run fro 38 yards to get them down to the goal line.
On the very next snap, from the 4-yard line, Brady threw low and to Gronkowski’s left side, a pass that only Gronkowski could get a hand on. He got both of those Hamburger Helper mitts underneath the ball and made the scoop for the go-ahead touchdown.
In just 2:05 game time, the Patriots have turned a 14-10 deficit into a 19-14 lead. That holding penalty on Ogbuehi looms even larger.
Third quarter, 7:05, 14-12 Bengals: Dont’a Hightower just burst up the A gap and got a grasp of Andy Dalton in the end zone. Hightower proved that he does indeed lift weights by hauling the QB down to the turf for a safety.
That play wouldn’t have happened if not for a holding penalty on Cedric Ogbuehi on the play preceding it, a penalty which wiped out a 15-yard completion to A.J. Green.
The defense did its job. Now it’s on the offense to sustain a drive and put some points on the board to retake the lead.
Third quarter, 8:11, 14-10 Bengals: LeGarrette Blount made a nifty catch over the middle and did well to fight for extra yardage to open that drive, but that was it. He ran left for a loss, followed by an Edelman false start and then a sack of Brady. On third-and-22, Brady completed a pass to Amendola well short of the sticks, bringing up a fourth-and-9.
Allen punted, and the Bengals now take over at their own 16-yard line. The way this game is going, it feels like the Patriots are going to need to force a turnover on defense to either score themselves or give the offense a short field. Something’s just not right with that entire offensive unit.
Third quarter, 11:14, 14-10 Bengals: The Bengals did exactly what they wanted to on that drive. And now they have the lead back.
It began on second-and-10 from their own 20, but Dalton pumped before deciding to tuck the ball and run. He picked up 15 yards on the run. Three plays later on a third-and-5, the Patriots’ zone defense didn’t account for A.J. Green, who was wide open on the left side for a gain of 23 yards.
Dalton then scrambled and ran to his right, with Tyler Boyd running uncovered across the middle for another big gain, this one for 27 yards.
On third-and-goal from the 5-yard line, LaFell ran to the back of the end zone and came across the end line, coming down with the pass and tapping his toes right in front of Malcolm Butler. Good drive for Cincy right there. Not the greatest drive for New England’s D.
Third quarter, 15:00, 10-7 Patriots: The Bengals get the ball to start the second half. But first, some halftime stats for you. First, team stats. The Bengals have gained 193 yards; the Patriots have gained 175. The Bengals are 3-for-6 on third down; the Patriots are 1-for-4.
Brady: 12/16, 136 yards, 1 TD
Dalton: 13/16, 143 yards, rushing TD
Bernard: 8 carries, 22 yards
Hill: 8 carries, 26 yards
Blount: 5 carries, 36 yards
White: 4 carries, 14 yards
Green: 4 receptions, 56 yards
White: 6 receptions, 38 yards, TD
Gronkowski: 2 receptions, 41 yards
Halftime, 10-7 Patriots: Not the crispest half of football for the Patriots, so they likely feel fortunate to be holding a lead right now.
The Bengals nearly generated a drive there, but A.J. Green couldn’t tap both feet before going out of bounds along the right sideline. Cincinnati ran on second down, and Belichick elected to not call a timeout to try to get the ball back for the final 35 or so seconds of the half. Instead both teams let the clock tick down, with Dalton throwing incomplete on third down. They punted with 7 seconds left, and Edelman’s return was bottled up near midfield to end the half.
Second quarter, 1:01, 10-7 Patriots: Things were looking grim for the Pats’ offense, but they were bailed out on a third-and-18 incompletion by an illegal contact penalty on Dre Kirkpatrick, who shoved Hogan up the right sideline. Makeup call for the Ryan penalty earlier? Perhaps.
Regardless, the Patriots made the most of the new life, with Brady relying big time on White to keep the drive going. But it was a beautiful pass deep over the middle to Chris Hogan that opened the drive up, as Hogan turned it upfield and made it a 39-yard gain.
Brady then let Gronkowski draw all the attention up the right seam on first down from the 15, allowing James White to find plenty of space in the right flat. Brady connected with White, who turned it up and easily trodded into the end zone for six.
Second quarter, 3:10, 7-3 Bengals: The run game wasn’t working for Cincy, so they went to the air on third-and-6. Dalton took a shotgun snap and waited for A.J. Green to gain just enough separation from Logan Ryan while running across the field to the left, and the two connected for a 22-yard gain.
Two plays later, nobody covered Tyler Boyd, who found a soft spot in the defense and picked up 14 yards. Then Dalton went back to Green, this time on an in-cut near the goal line, for another 14 yards.
The Bengals went with an option run from the goal line, with Andy Dalton making the fake and waltzing into the end zone.
The Bengals hold a lead late in the first half at Gillette. Not many people expected that.
Dalton is now 13-for-14 for 143 yards.
Second quarter, 6:36, 3-0 Patriots: LeGarrette Blount made a nice 15-yard run to get the Patriots out of trouble, but the drive stalled there. The Bengals take over at their own 40-yard line.
Second quarter, 9:05, 3-0 Patriots:The Bengals looked to be in trouble, facing a second-and-24 on their own side of the 50. But nobody covered A.J. Green on that play, leading to an easy 16-yard pickup, and Barkevious Mingo was no match to cover Giovani Bernard up the right sideline on the ensuing third-and-8. If Dalton had hit Bernard in stride, it would have been a walk into the end zone. But the QB underthrew Hill, thus allowing Mingo to catch up and make a tackle inside the 5-yard line.
The Patriots’ defense stood tall on the first two goal-line runs, setting up a third-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Dalton switched to a shotgun snap, and he looked only to A.J. Green in man coverage with Malcolm Butler. Butler was tight in coverage and broke it up.
The Bengals decided to go for it on fourth down with a heavy set, and they did not get it. Not even close. The Patriots gang tackled Bernard at the line of scrimmage, and the Patriots take over at their own 1-yard line.
End of first quarter, 3-0 Patriots: What felt like a speedy first quarter comes to an end with the Bengals facing a second-and-7 at their own 39-yard line. The drive should have ended when Elandon Roberts batted down a Dalton pass at the line, but Logan Ryan was called for a hands to the face penalty for his punch high on the chest of A.J. Green at the line of scrimmage. The whiplash on the shove made that look more like a hands to the face penalty than the actual contact, but that’s how things go in this league. Automatic first down.
First quarter, 2:57, 3-0 Patriots: The Patriots went with a healthy dose of James White on the ground and through the air to get out of their own end, with Gronkowski contributing with a 10-yard catch over the middle of the field.
But the drive stalled out near midfield, with Brady scrambling on third down but having nowhere to go with it. Ryan Allen’s punt was fair caught at the 10-yard line, and the Bengals are going to give this another go.
At the very least, the Patriots flipped the field.
First quarter, 7:34, 3-0 Patriots: The Bengals are playing it safe. After Butler hauled down Brandon LaFell a yard shy of the first-down marker at midfield, the punt team quickly came on to the field. Perhaps a missed opportunity for Cincy there.
The Bengals did pick up a couple of first downs, but the Patriots’ run defense stiffened on the second down prior to that third-down completion to LaFell.
The Patriots take over on their own 20 after a short punt by Kevin Huber.
First quarter, 12:06, 3-0 Patriots: On the first snap following a touchback, Brady switched to a shotgun snap and handed to Blount, who had a massive lane to run up the gut for 10 yards. Two plays later on a third-and-9, Brady bought time in the pocket then stepped up, finding Gronkowski up the left sideline with a step on Dansby. Brady hit Gronkowski in stride for a gain of 32 yards, getting the Patriots across midfield and keeping the drive going.
But on a third-and-9 from the 28-yard line, Brady had nowhere to go despite decent protection, and he ended up having to throw it away.
Gostkowski came on for a 46-yard field goal into the wind, and he drilled it.
And the Patriots are up early.
1 p.m.: Following a rousing ovation for Brady, the captains made their way to midfield. The Bengals won the coin toss and elected to defer. Tom Brady starts out with the ball.
12:17 p.m.: Tom Brady has decided to show up today. In case you were wondering.
11:46 a.m.: The NFL decided Cyrus Jones did not deserve further punishment from (allegedly) throwing a punch last week on the field in Cleveland. But the Patriots’ coaching staff might have thought differently.
The rookie second-round pick is inactive today, a week after he was forced to leave the game in Cleveland early for an on-field altercation. No camera views showed the scuffle, but the referee said postgame that Jones landed a punch on an opponent. The NFL didn’t fine Jones for the altercation, but for one reason or another, he’ll be forced to watch this game today like the rest of us.
Also inactive is Jamie Collins, who’s got a hip injury. Not too much is known about that at this time, but the defense should be able to handle his absence at least for this afternoon.
In what is completely unsurprising news, Rob Gronkowski is active. We knew a little illness wasn’t going to keep that guy out of a game — especially not Brady’s first game back at home.
Here’s the full list of inactives.
Justin Coleman, CB
Cyrus Jones, CB
Brandon Bolden, RB
Shea McClellin, LB
LaAdrian Waddle, T
Jamie Collins, LB
Vincent Valentine, DT
Jeff Driskel, QB
Cody Core, WR
KeiVarae Russell, CB
Chykie Brown, CB
Christian Westerman, G
DeShawn Williams, DT
Tyler Eifert, TE
10 a.m.: Tom Brady’s been waiting for this day for quite some time.
The Patriots quarterback finally gets to play a game in front of his home crowd today, as he and the Patriots host the Cincinnati Bengals here at 1 p.m.
New England enters the game as prohibitive favorites, but you know, the last time the Patriots were here, they got blanked. By the Bills.
Things happen. It’s sports.
So we’ll watch, and I’ll have any any all pregame updates right here, as well as updates and analysis throughout the game until the final whistle. So check back throughout the game to see how Mr. Brady fares in his home debut.