ReFo: Bengals @ Patriots, Week 5

The Patriots came back from Monday night's loss with a big win over the previously unbeaten Bengals. Ben Stockwell takes a look back at the big performances.

| 3 years ago

ReFo: Bengals @ Patriots, Week 5

2014-REFO-WK05-CIN@NEThe Patriots needed a response after the pasting they took in Kansas City last Monday and by the media in the week that followed. From the first drive they came up with the perfect reminder, if it was needed, that they have had poor games before, but rarely follow it up with another.

The Bengals were fresh off of their bye week, confident after a 3-0 start, but this game had haunting reminders of their disappointing playoff losses in the past three seasons. Just like in those games the Bengals came up well short against quality opposition.

Only five weeks into the season this cannot be described as a defining game for either team, but it did have an air of “the more things change the more they stay the same” about it.

Cincinnati Bengals – Performances of Note

Wallace Gilberry, DE: +3.8

Breakdown: There really was very little by way of a positive spin to take on this game from the Bengals and Gilberry was one of the few defensive players in particular to put in a creditable performance. Earning his highest single game grade since Week 15 of 2010 (+5.3 at St Louis) led both teams in pressures (five hurries) and trailed only Rey Maualuga for the team lead in stops with four.

Signature Play: Following A.J. Green’s fumble late in the second quarter, Gilberry came up with hurries on consecutive snaps at 00:30 and 00:24, the second forcing Brady to throw the ball away helping limit the damage to a short field goal.

Jermaine Gresham, TE: -0.7

Breakdown: Picking out poor showings from the Bengals on both sides of the ball from last night is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. Gresham’s night got underway with a good drive block on Rob Ninkovich at 08:10 in the first, but was followed up thereafter with an ineffective display as a receiver including a dropped touchdown midway through the second quarter.

Signature Stat: After dropping 10 passes in 2012, last night’s drop was Gresham’s first since Week 11 last season and only his fourth since the beginning of last season.

Bengals Linebackers: -8.2 coverage grade

Breakdown: Tom Brady only passed off of play action six times on Monday night, last night though he tested the Bengals’ linebackers early and often particularly with play action. On 15 combined targets the trio of Vincent Rey, Emmanuel Lamur and Rey Maualuga surrendered 11 catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns in a display that showed just how much they miss Vontaze Burfict.

Signature Stat: In the intermediate and short zones the Bengals surrendered 12-of-16 for 209 yards and two touchdowns to Tom Brady.

New England Patriots – Performances of Note

Tom Brady, QB: +3.1

Breakdown: Coming out firing from his first throw Brady was in control of the Cincinnati defense, doing all of his damage between the numbers with only six completions for 38 yards coming outside the numbers on 11 targets. This performance was another peak in what has started as a very up and down season for Brady which is sure to keep him at the heart of the NFL discussion from week to week.

Signature Play: A 141.3 passer rating on play action passes last night was boosted by his touchdown pass down the seam to Timothy Wright at 03:15 in the first, exploiting a hole in the Bengals’ zone behind the linebackers.

James Develin, FB: +2.5

Breakdown: Symptomatic of a powerful display by the Patriots, Develin brought his attitude and effort to each phase of the game. Strong lead blocking was paired with a couple of powerful carries (one that seemed the victim of a very dubious spot) and a first down conversion on his only reception.

Signature Play: That reception at Q3 13:56 featured him running through a tackle by Leon Hall on the Patriots’ opening play of the third quarter.

Shane Vereen, RB: +2.5

Breakdown: A dozen touches for Vereen last night and something positive contributed on just about every carry. Even when he was tackled short of the markers at 09:53 in the second quarter he got past a free defender in the backfield to threaten the Bengals with surrendering a first down on third-and-21.

Signature Play: Vereen made good on that second quarter threat with 07:28 left in the third, converting a third-and-16 bursting through the second level to setup Rob Gronkowski’s touchdown two plays later stealing the momentum back from the Bengals.

PFF Game Ball

There wasn’t a single “wow” throw in this performance from Tom Brady, but he hit far more than he missed and got the Patriots back on the right footing after a rocky week.

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| Director of Analysis

Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.

  • Chris

    The only thing similar about this game and the playoff losses was the score.

    In those games the defense was usually pretty good but Dalton was misfiring and panicking and flinging interceptions. 10-31, 13-19, 10-27. Every one of those was the offense’s faults.

    But take away the horrendous drop by Gresham and the missed FG and they scored 27 points last night while still fumbling 3 times. That’s a pretty solid offensive outing, one which included only 6 pressures allowed by the OL and 1 sack. Dalton didn’t make any bad decisions and didn’t turn the ball over.

    This loss is squarely on the defense, mainly for their inability to stop the run and defend the seam. It’s hard to fault them though, as they were missing arguably the best 4-3 OLB in the league in Burfict. He has been outstanding in the 2 games he’s played both in run support and in coverage, so it’s no surprise to see them struggle in both facets when he’s replaced by Rey.

    It’s also painfully obvious that Atkins isn’t at 100% yet. Through 4 games he’s graded +1.4, -0.6, +0.2, +0.1 for a total of +1.1. That’s a far cry from a guy who graded +78.6 in 2012 and +17.0 (through 8 games) last year. He has been their best run stopper and a devastating interior rusher, which makes life easier for the DEs because they see more 1 on 1s. With Atkins playing at an average level, life is more difficult for the rest of the DL and it shows.

    However this team is missing a ton of pieces right now. Jones, Eifert, Zeitler, and Burfict along with both Atkins and Hall still recovering from midseason injuries last year (Hall was +8.8 through 4 games last year before tearing his Achilles, -3.1 through 4 games this year). They’ll get stronger as the year goes and these guys return from injury and get back to form.

    • rogue

      TLDR version: You’re never as bad as you look when you lose and you’re never as good as you look when you win.

      • Xmas

        While the Patriots had a strong win, they were not playing that well at all. As the earlier comment thread pointed out, the Bengals had a few unfortunately drops that could have been very big plays. Plus the Pats committed far too many penalties, some really dumb ones.

        I was glad for the win, but Belichick and the coaching staff will have a lot of things to goad the players with tomorrow.

        • Lord Mad

          The Patriots had a bunch of unfortunate drops too and spotted almost an entire drive with penalties(about a third of all which were bogus) to the Bengals to help them. Don’t try to act like they were worse than they were. The Patriots dominated in every sense of the game. Boger’s officiating is questionable, just like Dalton’s consistency is.

          • riffly

            Please be realistic, the refs were active but those calls were not out of the ordinary. There was still plenty of iffy grabs and early tackles that hurt both teams. Also, I’m not sure what your fixation on Dalton is. He wasn’t a major factor in the outcome of this game. Just like Brady, he doesn’t carry a team that is falling apart. The league has 3 QBs who can do that right now and none of them were in that game.

          • Lord Mad

            MANY of those calls were out of the ordinary. Many calls went unnoticed on the Bengals(like some very egregious holding like on Chandler Jones by the LT) as well as AJ Greens numerous OPIs where he pushes off to get separation. Then let’s not even get into the lousy ball spot that was clearly a 1st down by the FB Develin but the Refs took off almost 2 yards and said it wasn’t. Do I need to bring up the unnecessary roughness call on Jamie Collins which was actually completely legal given the circumstances? I could go on but I think you are completely biased by the looks of things.

            Brady has carried a team that has fallen apart plenty of times, anybody who says that has not watched him over the years but I digress. You completely missed the point where you tried to make up excuses for the Bengals but didn’t acknowledge that the Patriots had plenty of lost opportunities as well. Suck it up, Bengals got destroyed.

          • riffly

            Yeah, they got destroyed. I didn’t make any excuses. I’m still not sure what purpose your rant serves. I stand by what I said about the calls. Some were iffy, none were crazy and plenty were still missed. It was a pretty typical performance by the refs. Neither QB did anything in that game that couldn’t be replicated across the league. Brady’s been having excuses made for him since before last week’s Chief’s game even started. That is the only thing that I feel is out of the ordinary.

          • riffly

            Heck, I’ll even throw in some praise for the Pats to show you how over this I am. The Pats have the best coach since Landry. Because of this, I suspect they’ll continue to get better as the season progresses. With every week that passes, the only sure thing in the NFL is that Belichick will have his team more prepared for every conceivable situation. If they make it into the playoffs again, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with. Brady executes very well and understands their offense like the back of his hand. He’s a huge asset as an extra coach and motivator on that side of the ball. I’m just not going to compare him to the league’s magicians like Rodgers, Luck and Manning or belittle young guys who’ve shown progress before they have had the opportunity and time to be as much of a leader as Brady.

    • riffly

      Good points.

      It was the worst Bengals defensive performance in recent memory. Dalton played a surprisingly solid game, but the offense still left a lot of plays on the field.

      It is worrying to see so many bad drops from guys like Gresham and Sanu who had appeared to turn a corner. A.J. Green looked quite inept against Revis. The O-Line was not able to generate a run game either.

      There was a glimmer of hope in the 2nd half as the Def seemed fired up by Adam Jones’ long return and the quick offensive TD. It did not last for long as fumble-itis set in and the Def went back to letting Brady run all over them.

      Both lines of scrimmage were dominated by the Pats. This was such a resounding loss for the Bengals that I am not sure one can pin it on defense alone. Maybe this is just one they should bury and move on from.

      • Chris

        I agree with most of this.

        To me the game was meaningless, as far as long-term prognosis. Mainly due to the injuries. The biggest takeaway from the game for me is that Dalton played well on the road against a good team without turning it over multiple times. That is what has plagued them in big-time games in the past. If that part is cured, I have faith that the defense will come around once everyone is back and healthy.

        • Lord Mad

          Dalton was mediocre until very late in the game actually when one of the top safeties in the league(Devin McCourty) and CBs(Revis) were both out. Other than that, he looked mediocre at best.

          • Chris

            Mediocre but good at the end is a huge upgrade from how Dalton has played in big time games against good defenses in the past.

            All I was saying was this loss wasn’t because of Dalton, as the playoff games were. That’s the part I disagreed with in the article.

          • Lord Mad

            Upgrade or not, it shows he was only good when the defense was playing less aggressive and was without it’s top two defenders. He was very inaccurate for most of the game. Most of the game being the key part of the issue.

          • Riffly

            He didn’t look great, but he sure looked a lot better than Brady did last week against the Chiefs with no defense and no run game.

          • Lord Mad

            It’s pretty easy to look decent when your offensive line is so good.

      • Anonymous

        The loss might not be on Dalton alone, but how you can squarely blame the defense doesn’t make sense to me. The special teams gave up a TD. The Patriots got the ball on the AJ Green fumble already in Field goal range (Defense held them to a field goal). Got the ball on their own 42 yard line once and at Cincy’s 49 yard line once. They had 2 long TD drives. The first one and the one in the 3rd quarter. They held them to field goals a bunch of times.

        The Bengals offense didn’t do anything until the game was basically decided. And even then the TD to AJ, Revis wasn’t on the field.

  • TheeLidman

    Revis didn’t rate high?