CINCINNATI, OH -- The New England Patriots knocked off the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night 34 - 13 on anther strong performance by Tom Brady and Randy Moss. The Brady to Moss connection has turned into a new NFL Record with Moss's fourth consecutive 100 yard game with a his new team. Cincinnati falls to 1-3 in search of answers, while the Patriots improive to 4-0 as they return home to face the other team from Ohio next week.
The Patriots traveled to Cincinnati expecting fireworks from the Bengals offense that had, until Monday night, scored 31 points per game on the strength of Carson Palmer's arm and the skills of T.J. Houshmandzadeeh and Chad Johnson. It was the Patriots who scored first on the heels of big plays, not the Bengals. New England took the first possession of the game and drove 66 yards in 11 plays to get into the red zone. It was then the Bengals defense stepped in to force a field goal. The stand was one of three the entire game for Cincinnati, the rest of the time, Brady was able to find his targets downfield, or the offensive line was able to bust open holes to allow the Patriots backs big gains.
Bill Belichick doled out cautious praise for his club while complimenting the Bengals despite their injury misfortunes and struggles to stay in the game against a superior Patriots lineup.
"The game was not perfect," Said Belichick of the Patriots' performance. "Cincinnati did give us a good game, especially throwing the ball."
Maybe it wasn't perfect, but winning by over 20 points for the fourth time in a row has only been done once in NFL History, way back in 1920 according a stat cited by ESPN.
Brady connected with Randy Moss nine times for 102 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It was Moss' fourth consecutive 100-yard game, another NFL first.
"Randy is smart. He has great hands, and he is very instinctive," said Belichick of the team's leading receiver. "Randy can catch the ball and has a great vertical game. Tom (Brady) does a great job of utilizing Randy in the passing game."
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis was visibly frustrated after watching his team come unglued on national television.
"I'm obviously as upset as you can be," Lewis said. "We're down some guys, but that is no excuse. We allowed that big run in the first half that got us behind the eight ball."
The big run came in the Patriots third possession when Sammy Morris took a Tom Brady handoff at the Patriots 49 and ripped off a 49-yard blast down to the Bengals 2 yard line. Brady connected with LB Mike Vrabel 2 plays later to put the Patriots up 10-0.
Carson Palmer was able to guide to the end zone after hitting Chad Johnson along the sidelines to the Patriots 2. Johnson never scored, or fulfill his much-hyped pregame promise of a new touchdown celebration. The Bengals were able to close the gap 10-7 before New England blew the game open.
Palmer and Johnson were obviously not on the same after that catch. When Johnson ran a post route in the red zone, Palmer threw the ball down the middle into the waiting arms of Patriots cornerback, Asante Samuel. It snuffed out a promising drive that could have closed the Patriots 17-7 lead at the time to a one score game. It was the closest the Bengals would be for the rest of the evening as New England took control and never looks back.
Palmer and Johnson were seen jawing at each other as they walked to the locker room at the half. Palmer accepted responsibility for the mistake after the game. "I threw a ball in the end-zone I shouldn't have thrown into coverage," said Palmer. "I shouldn't have thrown it."
While it's possible it was Palmer's mistake, Johnson's rant didn't go over well. "Sometimes you lose your cool, and I lost my cool. Like I said, I made a mistake and threw a ball I shouldn't have thrown."
While Palmer shrugged it off publicly, the Bengals coach wasn't' so generous.
"Selfishness," was the word Lewis used to describe the Bengals' troubles. "This is a game of greed," Lewis said. "But you have to play it within the scope of what you are asked to do. It's not all about you every play and we have to understand that."
The Patriots put up 404 yards of total offense behind Brady's 25 of 32 completions for 231-yards and three touchdowns. Sammy Morris added 21 carries for 117 yards (5.6 avg.) and a touchdown. It was Morris' second career 100-yard game. It was Brady's fourth consecutive multi-touchdown performance.
With the win New England improved to 4-0 with a three game lead in the AFC East. Cincinnati dropped to 1-3 at the bottom of the AFC North. Next up for New England are the Browns at home on Sunday. Next for Cincinnati is a much-needed bye week.
Offiicial Game Thread (Pats site)