PATRIOTS REPORT CARD VS. BENGALS
PASSING OFFENSE: A-plus -- Hard to find any fault in Tom Brady's performance. Just days after signing a long-term contract extension, Brady threw three touchdown passes with no interceptions and was particularly at his best in the fourth quarter when he engineered a 14-play scoring drive to put the game out of reach.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- Questions about Fred Taylor's durability -- or lack thereof -- appear to be resolved for now. Taylor only rushed 14 times, but he averaged 5.1 yards per carry and helped set the tone early as the Patriots picked apart the Bengals' defense at will. Laurence Maroney was inactive, but it didn't matter with Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk and BenJarvus Green-Ellis splitting the remaining carries.
PASS DEFENSE: C-minus -- The first quarter looked dazzling with defenders flying to the ball and knocking away passes, and you can't knock Gary Guyton's interception return for a touchdown, but once the Bengals got settled, they moved the ball at will, scoring touchdowns on three consecutive drives in the second half. That's not good enough, regardless of the final score.
RUSH DEFENSE: A -- The Bengals were expecting to run the ball and set up their passing game behind Cedric Benson, but Benson finished with only 43 yards (2.9 per carry). Credit Vince Wilfork with making his presence felt at nose tackle. That set the tone for the rest of the run defense to fill the gaps and make plays. Overall, Cincinnati's running game was a non-factor.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- Brandon Tate earned bonus points in his NFL debut with a kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half. That gave the Patriots a 31-3 lead. The Bengals rallied, but never came within two scores. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed a field goal wide left in the opening half, but the Tate return made this a great day on special teams.
COACHING: B -- The game plan didn't feature too many wrinkles, though the defense was much more complex than most people thought it would be considering the number of inexperienced players in the secondary. The Patriots kept it simple offensively and ran a lot of screen passes to take advantage of the Bengals' inability to tackle, which turned short plays into big gains.
BENGALS REPORT CARD VS. PATRIOTS
PASSING OFFENSE: C -- The receivers did a nice job making plays but Palmer struggled at times with accuracy and the pass protection was average. There were a couple times when Palmer should have looked off his receiver.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- Not much in the way of running, especially in the second half. Cedric Benson struggled to establish a rhythm. A good thing is that they got Bernard Scott more involved.
PASS DEFENSE: D -- In a word, abysmal. There was no semblance of a pass rush and plenty of missed tackles by the defensive backs.
RUSH DEFENSE: D -- It all goes back to a horrible day by the defensive line. Not enough of a push as Fred Taylor had a great drive to set up the second touchdown.
SPECIAL TEAMS: F -- The only thing preventing this from a failing grade is that Mike Nugent made a 54-yard field goal. Otherwise, the return and coverage units were dreadful, including giving up a 97-yard kick return to Brandon Tate.
COACHING: D -- It took too long for the Bengals to go to no-huddle. They also played tight and tentative, which is a direct result of the staff preparing them.
This report courtesy of The Sports Xchange
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