Bengals defense holds tight, Pats tie score before half

AP

Wide receiver Danny Amendola is back in the lineup for the Patriots, but his presence hasn’t done much to lift the potency of the unit.

Amendola has three catches for 39 yards and he’s been targeted a few other times during a frustrating first half for the Patriots offense. They punted on their first four drives and lost a fumble by running back LeGarrette Blount before rallying just before the half to tie the game at 3. Amendola had a key 21-yard catch to set up the score after the Patriots defense forced a three-and-out to get the ball back with less than a minute before the half.

The Bengals defense has been too much for the Patriots to handle during much of the half. Tom Brady’s been sacked twice and hit several other times by the members of the Bengals’ talented defensive line. The pressure has made it hard to notice the absence of cornerback Leon Hall in the Cincinnati secondary. New England gained 134 yards overall and 90 yards on 20 called passes while just avoiding being shut out in the first half for the first time since the 2011 season.

The Bengals offense hasn’t been much better, but they did manage to come up with one good drive in the second quarter when Andy Dalton decided to start throwing to his wide receivers. They hadn’t been targeted at all before Dalton found A.J. Green and Marvin Jones to set up a Mike Nugent field goal. He’ll need to do more of that if the Bengals don’t want the entire game resting on their defense’s ability to keep Brady off the scoreboard for the remaining 30 minutes.