Bengals 13, Patriots 6: Brady’s TD streak ends
Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins sacks Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
CINCINNATI — As heavy rain drenched Paul Brown Stadium, the pass wobbled. Rather than zipping through the air, it sunk toward the ground 10 yards too soon.
Tom Brady, who had thrown a touchdown pass in 52 consecutive games, saw his man — New England Patriots receiver Aaron Dobson — streaking down the sideline, just shy of the end zone. It was a chance for Brady to tie the score. It was the chance to extend the streak to 53 games, already the second longest in NFL history.
None of that happened. The ball dropped in the downpour, and instead of falling into Dobson’s hands, it went into those of Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam Jones, who held on after the toss bounced off his right hand and his facemask while he stumbled backward onto the turf.
“Hey, right place, right time,” Jones said. “And good coverage.”
And so the Bengals held on for a 13-6 victory, just their second against the Patriots in their past nine meetings.
While Jones’ last-second interception marked the end for Brady and the Patriots in their attempt to reach 5-0, it also marked a revival of sorts for the Bengals, who are 3-2 and tied for first place in the AFC North, only one week after a disappointing 17-6 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Credit their defense. The Bengals held the Patriots without a touchdown, becoming the first team to accomplish that feat since the New York Jets on Sept. 20, 2009.
“We played physical, and that’s what we have to do,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “That’s our calling card. Otherwise, who are we?”
Who the Bengals are seems clear: a team getting by with just enough plays on defense — such as Jones’ interception — to compensate for an offense still looking to hit its stride.
Cincinnati has one touchdown, not to mention four turnovers, the past two weeks. Against the Patriots, the Bengals gained just 341 total yards and had an interception in the first quarter and a fumble in the fourth that stalled potential scoring drives.
“If we keep playing lights-out on defense, all we need is three points,” defensive lineman Domata Peko said.
The Bengals scored enough, and then added a buffer late. With a 6-3 lead late in the third quarter, they began a 14-play, 93-yard drive that lasted nearly eight minutes, keeping Brady and the Patriots offense off the field.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal.
“I felt confident in us being able to punch the ball in,” Lewis said, when asked about the decision to go for a touchdown rather than a field goal.
A 10-point fourth quarter appeared enough, although New England added a field goal on its next drive. But the Patriots never got in a rhythm as Brady was continuously pressured by the Bengals’ front seven and was sacked four times.
“We made sure he couldn’t step up,” said defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who was the first to sack Brady on the Patriots’ second play from scrimmage. “As a whole, we did a great job pushing the pocket.”
As the game progressed, nothing got easier, especially in the fourth quarter when the rain hit hard after clear skies lasted for much of the afternoon. So Brady came up just short. The pass fell to Jones, who dashed off toward the sideline to present the ball to his uncle and hand the Bengals a share of the division lead with the Browns and Baltimore Ravens.