On Monday Night Football, many tuned into to watch the New England Patriots take on the Kansas City Chiefs in what should have been a great battle between one of the league’s best signal callers against one of the best defensive units from the 2013 season. Someone forgot to tell Tom Brady and the Patriots that. The Chiefs dominated every facet of the game to the tune of a 41-14 romping, crushing the hopes of Patriots’ fans everywhere. This Sunday they take on the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals, so the road to redemption will not get any easier.
The Patriots got behind early in Monday’s game, going down 17-0 before the half. Brady turned the ball over three times, and was replaced in the fourth quarter rookie QB Jimmy Garoppolo. The Patriots are not accustomed to being treated like this. The last time New England has lost by more than three touchdowns was in 2005, when they were stomped by the San Diego Chargers, 41-17.
Sunday brings a new chance for New England though. Another shot on national TV, as the Bengals come to Foxboro for Sunday Night Football. America’s eyes will be on Tom Brady and the Patriots to see if they can bounce back and be the fearful unit that they once were. Last year, Cincinnati beat New England 13-6, ending Brady’s fifty-two game streak of passing at least one touchdown. That game was in Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium, but this time the Patriots will be at home at Gillette Stadium.
After suffering such a crushing loss, there are many questions that surround New England. Home field advantage should help the team, but will it be enough? New England has lost many play makers and Tom Brady is no longer the spring chicken he once was. It was 2007 when he set the single season touchdown record with fifty, a record broken by Peyton Manning last season. A lot has changed since then in the terms of Patriot personnel.
Meanwhile, the Bengals have a young gunslinger in Andy Dalton, who has been nothing short of stellar in the regular season, throwing more touchdown passes each year since he joined the league in 2011. The Bengals also have the leagues’ top defense. The defense has not allowed more than sixteen points in each of their three games. Add in A.J. Green, one of the leagues’ most dynamic pass catchers, a solid running game behind second year man Giovani Bernard and the Patriots may be in for a rough night, and possibly a losing record for the first time in October in the Brady era.
Since the Patriots suffered that crushing loss on Monday night, they have had a short week to prepare for the Bengals. The schedule will not get easier for a team that is in turmoil. Bill Belicheck would only respond, in his press conference, with “We are focusing on the Bengals.” Sunday night fans will see if they really have been focused on the Bengals, or if the beating they took on Monday took a bigger toll then he would lead fans to believe. Either way, Sunday Night Football is sure to be must see TV.
Commentary by Andy Lapic