By Danny Cox
The New England Patriots really didn’t do too bad with back-up quarterbacks for the first quarter of the season as they started with a 3-1 record. Tom Brady’s return in Week 5 brought about the proof that he is looking better now than he has throughout his entire career, and he led the Patriots to a victory in that game as well.
In his second game back, Brady and the Pats started off slow against the Cincinnati Bengals, but it was only a short amount of time until they were right back to perfect form. After falling behind early, the Patriots turned it on to improve to 5-1 with a 35-17 victory over the Bengals.
Early on, the Patriots just seemed to miss some opportunities and appeared to be out of sorts. After that, it was all Tom Brady who ended up going 39-for-35 with 376 yards and three touchdowns. His primary target on the day was Rob Gronkowski, who looked as healthy and good as ever with 162 yards and one touchdown on seven receptions.
LeGarrette Blount had 50 yards on 13 carries with one score, but the running game really didn’t do a whole lot for the Pats on Sunday. One thing that could use some work is pass protection as Brady was sacked three times.
The defense of New England played well and managed to hold the strong running game of the Bengals to just 120 yards total. Giovanni Bernard had just 49 yards while Jeremy Hill racked up only 38 yards. Andy Dalton did well as he passed for 254 yards and one touchdown, but the Patriots did bring him down twice on the day for a pair of sacks.
A.J. Green finished as Cincy’s top receiver with 88 yards on six catches while Tyler Boy had 79 yards on four receptions, but the Bengals’ strong wide receiver duo couldn’t really get going.
Special Teams: B
It isn’t like there was a lot for the special teams to really do as the offense was taking care of virtually everything. Stephen Gostkowski did miss one extra point, but hit three of them and both field goal attempts. Julian Edelman and Ryan Allen did well in the return game to set up things nicely for Brady and the offense.
Bill Belichick went into the game with a plan that included a lot of the same old, same old. Tom Brady was sent out there to do his job the way he knows how to do it and mix it up now and then with the running game of LeBarrette Blount. Gronk was the focus of the Pat’s game plan on Sunday and the Bengals simply couldn’t match up with him to stop them.
The Patriots were able to come back from a very poor first half and just absolutely dominate the third and fourth quarters of the game. It’s hard to see them losing another game this season, but stranger things have happened. New England is simply playing so well and they were doing it without Brady on the field. Now that he’s back, they’ve turned up things about 10 notches.