Tom Brady will not break Drew Brees’ record for throwing touchdown passes in the most consecutive games this season.
Brady’s streak ends at 52 games and the Patriots’ winning streak is done at four games after the Bengals held on for a 13-6 victory in Cincinnati. The Bengals looked like they were on the verge of putting the game away as they were up 10 and driving with under four minutes to play, but Giovani Bernard fumbled to open the door for the Patriots. They could only cash in for a field goal and the Bengals made the choice to trust their defense more than Andy Dalton by running three times and punting the ball back to New England.
The defense almost cracked, handing the Patriots first downs by jumping offside and roughing Brady, but they survived when Adam Jones picked off Brady at the Cincinnati 5-yard line with 16 seconds to play. It ended a miserable day for Brady, who took the field for that final drive in a monsoon and wound up completing just 18-of-38 passes on the afternoon and only one of his last 10. There were drops by several receivers, miscommunications and very little pass protection on the way to four sacks, all of which were exacerbated by an excellent Bengals defensive performance.
It wasn’t a particularly bright day for the Bengals offense either, but they came through in the fourth quarter when they needed to. They took advantage of the Patriots missing both Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly and went for it on fourth-and-goal by putting BenJarvus Green-Ellis behind moonlighting defensive tackle Domata Peko and pushing the pile for a touchdown. It made up for Peko’s false start two plays earlier and allowed the Bengals to pick up their third win of the season.
Dalton finished 20-of-27 for 212 yards and threw a costly red zone interception in the first half before leading the team to 10 points in the second half. The Bengals ran the ball well until Bernard’s fumble, using the Patriots’ weakness against them early and often, but it was a strong day for the Patriots defense overall. Linebacker Jarod Mayo was particularly effective for New England.
If Kelly’s out for any extended period, the Patriots will be threadbare at defensive tackle. We’ll see if that is deemed a bigger worry in New England than the offensive step backward.