The New England Patriots lost their first game of the season to theCincinnati Bengals on Sunday afternoon. When a team does not score a touchdown, it is hard for them to walk away with a victory, and this game was no exception. The key to the game was in the trenches, and New England lost the battle on both sides of the ball, but especially on offense. A Patriots defense only allowing one touchdown should be an automatic win, but that was not the way of the game. In fact, here are three key factors that led to the Patriots loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
1. Breaking Brady:
Tom Brady had a bad game. That’s what it boils down to at the end of the day. When Brady struggles, the team (unless they have Richard Seymour, Ty Law, Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, and either Rodney Harrison or Lawyer Milloy on defense) is not very likely to notch a win. With a dinged up receiving corps, Brady had some issues with the receivers as a returning from injury, but out-of-sync wide receiver Danny Amendola dropped three passes and second year running back Brandon Bolden added a couple of drops as well.
Wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins was clearly limited and struggled to get open against a sub-par Cincinnati secondary. Slot wide receiver Julian Edelman only caught two of five targets as did rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson. If there was a game that the team desperately missed all-world tight end Rob Gronkowski in the passing game, this was the game.
Especially galling was when Danny Amendola’s rolling reception was downed at the one yard line. First off, it was surprising that New England did not challenge the ruling he was contacted by the Cincinnati defender and down before the ball crossed the goal line. Second, the team ran LeGarrette Blount behind tackle Nate Solder and guard Logan Mankins on first down. Then, the team went to trickery and tried to connect with left tackle eligible receiver Nate Solder on a ridiculous call. Finally, on third down and goal, the Patriots missed running back Stevan Ridley and his nose for the end zone as they tried to connect to their shortest receiver (Edelman) in a goal line situation rather than try to power the ball into the end zone.
Quarterback Tom Brady did not throw an interception until the last drive of the game when the team was out of timeouts and the clock was ticking down. But again, his accuracy and sync with the receivers was a point of contention. Of course, the biggest factor to stopping Brady (as the New York Giants of 2007 and 2012 can attest to) is getting pressure with a four man rush up the middle of the offensive line. Cincinnati put Brady on his back with pressure, knock-downs, and sacks with regularity on Sunday.