Patriots rout Bengals
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Maybe the Bengals thought they would be able to push around the Patriots, who were coming off one of the worst losses since Tom Brady and Bill Belichick teamed up in New England.
Now it’s Cincinnati that needs to bounce back from a blowout.
The last unbeaten team in the NFL, the Bengals fumbled three times and failed to convert a third down in a 43-17 loss to the suddenly rejuvenated Patriots.
Tom Brady threw for two touchdowns and reached the 50,000 yard milestone for his career for New England, six days after a 27-point loss with a 26-point victory.
“If you turn the ball over and don’t make any third downs, you have a chance to have this happen to you,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said.
Andy Dalton was 15 of 24 for 204 yards and two touchdowns, but he was also was sacked for the first time this season when Chris Jones tackled him three minutes into the fourth quarter. A.J. Green caught five passes for 81 yards and a touchdown, but he also fumbled with just over a minute left in the first half.
Brandon Tate fumbled on a kickoff return, and Dane Sanzenbacher coughed the ball up after a pass reception in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve got to secure the ball more,” Green said.
Six days after a 41-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs had Patriots fans doubting the three-time Super Bowl champions, the New England offense broke out of its season-long slump. Brady threw for a season-high 292 yards, Stevan Ridley ran for 117 and Stephen Gostkowski had a career-high five field goals against a team that had allowed an NFL-low 11 points per game.
The Patriots (3-2) surpassed that by scoring on their first two possessions, on Ridley’s 1-yard run and Brady’s 17-yard pass to Tim Wright. New England led 20-3 at halftime before the Bengals (3-1) cut it to 10 points on Dalton’s 37-yard pass to Mohamed Sanu.
The Bengals, who were coming off a bye, had trailed for just 48 seconds in their first three games while coming into the weekend as one of the league’s two unbeaten teams. Arizona lost to Denver earlier Sunday.
Brady completed 23 of 35 passes, including a 27-yard completion to Rob Gronkowski that made him the sixth quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 50,000 yards.
He connected with Tim Wright for a touchdown on the next play, bringing a chant of “Bra-dee!” from a crowd that spent all week worrying that the 37-year-old quarterback was reaching the end of his career.
“We don’t sit around listening to what everybody else says,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “We try to do the best we can.”
With 50,232 career yards passing, Brady is now chasing John Elway (51.475) for in fifth place on the all-time list. Brett Favre is first with 71,838.
“It was a long week. We dug deep,” Brady said. “(I’m) proud of everybody.”