The New England Patriots run for a second (almost) perfect season ended today at the hands of quarterback Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals. Apparently, the secret to defeating Tom Brady and the Patriots young offense is a monster defense. Bengals held Brady to only 90 yards passing in the first half of the game, and kept up the pressure on the Patriot’s offensive line. Brady could not maintain his patented poise in a repeatedly collapsing pocket, and the final score 13-6 reflects this flaw in New England’s O-line. Brady’s march toward the record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass came to a halt, as the Patriots never made it into the end zone Sunday.
Being Tom Brady is getting harder by the week.
The Bengals have gotten good at stopping otherwise productive offenses. They are emerging as a contender for the playoffs with Dalton and a defensive line that looks like they are powered by nuclear fusion. This became apparent two weeks ago when the Bengals beat the Green Bay Packers 34-30, spending the entire game putting enough pressure on Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers to disrupt his rhythm and pull out the win.
The Patriots defense did their job against the Bengals offense, but failed to keep them out the endzone. The Bengals scored the only touchdown of the game from Dalton to the man with four names, former Patriot Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis.
This game, in a pouring rain in Ohio, came down to numbers. Brady completed 18/38 for 197 yards averaging 5.2 yards per pass. He threw one interception to Bengal Adam “Pacman” Jones inside the 5 yard line with 16 seconds remaining in the game. Brady ends Week 5 with a dismal 52.2 passer rating.
Dalton, on the other hand, completed 20/27 for 212 yards, averaging 7.9 yards per pass. He was sacked four times for a total of 33 yards and threw one interception to Patriots Brandon Spikes at the 8 yard line. This was Dalton’s first interception in his three-year career inside the opponent’s 20 yard line.
This game also snaps Brady’s record run for straight games with a touchdown pass, currently held by undefeated New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees. Brees broke the record with 54 in 2012 surpassing Johnny Unitas’ record of 47 that had held since 1960. Brady’s record halted just shy of Brees at 52.
Brady has been pulling wins from thin air with his favored target Wes Welker signed by the Denver Broncos and wide receiver Rob Gronkowski out due to back and forearm injuries. The scene looked bright with Gronk’s backup Danny Amendola, but Brady lost him to a groin injury. Last week the backups did the job, this week, the Bengals did it better.
Every team remaining on New England’s schedule will be studying this game in the coming weeks to break the code of How to Beat Tom Brady. The Bengals broke the code and displayed brilliantly aggressive and energetic defense. While the offense was not as productive as it has been in previous games, it was enough to hold the Patriots down and give the home crowd bragging rights for the rest of the season,.
The Brady-Belichick era of the Patriots has been marked by success, and this first loss of the season may not slow their stride. The Patriots are still sitting in an excellent position to make a run for the playoffs and with the return of WR Amendola, the New England Patriots should be well on the way to getting their groove back.
Written by: Brandi Tasby