There was a lot of pressure on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for most of the first half, but the Patriots protection held up with time running short in the second quarter.
Brady had all the time in the world to find Chris Hogan cutting over the middle for a 39-yard gain that took the ball into the red zone. There was time for Brady to find a wide-open James White on the next snap as well and White trotted into the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown that put New England on top 10-7 at the half.
The Patriots drive got help on an error by Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, who was flagged for illegal contact on a third-down play that would have gotten the defense off the field quickly. The Bengals are also missing safety George Iloka, who is called questionable to return with a shoulder injury, but the change in pressure was the biggest difference for Brady on the scoring drive.
Brady is 12-of-16 for 136 yards overall while Andy Dalton has gone 13-of-16 for 146 yards. Dalton completed his first 10 passes of the game and ran for a two-yard touchdown to get the Bengals on the board in the second quarter. Keeping them off the board in the second half may have to happen without linebacker Elandon Roberts, who suffered a head injury. Roberts was playing in place of the inactive Jamie Collins, so the Patriots are short on linebackers if he can’t return.