BENGALS GAMEDAY: Photos, analysis, video highlights, stats, quotes* * *
Updated: 8:30 a.m.
AndersonIt is now time to be very worried about the health of Pro Bowl right tackle Willie Anderson because the Big Fella himself was quite concerned as he had difficulty moving around just trying to get dressed after Monday's game even though he played just three snaps.
"All the things that have been happening to me this year, they've caught up with me," said Anderson, one game away from the fifth-longest consecutive starts streak at 117. "I went out there and on the pass blocking, I was kidding myself."
Anderson's medical status has been as well guarded as that of a Soviet leader in the '80s. But it's believed that not only is the foot that wiped out his preseason bothering him, but so is the knee he injured on the last offensive play in Seattle last week.
He's unsure if the upcoming bye week will cure him in time for the Oct. 14 game in Kansas City.
Lemar Marshall's injury was more damaging and definitive: A ruptured Achilles tendon on the second play of the game, a condition usually season-ending. Marshall, 30, a Cincinnati native picked up on Aug. 23, tried to defy the injury by hopping off the field instead of getting carted off.
Head coach Marvin Lewis is hopeful several players that missed Monday's game, including running back Rudi Johnson, will be back for the Chiefs.
Randy Moss gave the Bengals a taste of what wide receiver Chris Henry has been doing the past two seasons when he used his muscle and size to haul in two red-zone touchdowns for the NFL lead with seven touchdowns. The back-breaker was a seven-yard catch on third down near the end of the first half that gave the Patriots a 17-7 lead, despite the tight one-on-one coverage of cornerback Johnathan Joseph on the sideline. The 6-4 Moss basically leaped over the 5-11 Joseph and ripped the ball away.
"Perfect coverage. That's what happens when you've got a receiver 6-3, 6-4, 6-5," Joseph said. "I don't think they hurt us much in the passing game, but they were balanced."
Indeed, Pats quarterback Tom Brady had 231 yards passing compared to Carson Palmer's 234, so it was running back Sammy Morris' 117 rushing yards courtesy of the Bengals' banged-up linebacking corps that provided the difference. Palmer's longest completion was just 23 yards.
Morris' 49-yard bolt early in the game was the second-longest run in the eight-year reign of coach Bill Belichick, only a yard shorter than Corey Dillon's jaunt last year against the Jets.
The Pats have scored in all 16 quarters this season, and have a streak of scoring in 35 straight since getting blanked by the Dolphins, 21-0, last Dec. 10.
With the club down to two linebackers (and middle linebacker Anthony Schlegel limping on a turf toe after his first NFL start) rookie safety Chinedum Ndukwe played a lot of hybrid linebacker in the nickel and dime packages. Those were packages the Bengals had to use even when they weren't in passing situations because of the lack of backers and the Patriots were able to overpower the passing personnel with 173 rushing yards on more than five yards per shot.
"I'm a safety, but I'll go wherever," said Ndukwe, who played linebacker for a week at Notre Dame. "I felt comfortable. I'm used to moving around."
Ndukwe, who played three spots in college (wide receiver along with backer and safety), had five tackles and came up big in the first couple of series with the game on the line. He made tackles on two short third-down passes. One forced a field goal and one forced a punt..
For the second straight season the Patriots running backs came in doling out stiff arms, with free safety Madieu Williams the main victim. Last year Laurence Maroney got him on a 25-yard touchdown run. On Monday, Morris got Williams and poked him in the eye durng that 49-yard run. After a stint in the locker room, Williams returned.
But linebacker Landon Johnson didn't after he took a shot in the eye a few plays later in the second quarter.
How much more can the linebackers take? Ahmad Brooks and Caleb Miller are expected back for Oct. 14, but that didn't help the Bengals in the second half when the limping Schlegel and Dhani Jones, a Bengal for all of 10 days, were the ony backers the team had.
It may have been a reason for a slew of mistakes. Strong safety Dexter Jackson was called for offsides to take away his sack, and a third-down stop was wiped out because of 12 men on the field.
Wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, on pace to catch more than 150 balls after his 10 catches, was mystified about the Bengals' inability to score more than 13 points.
"They know their corners can't cover us so they're going to play two-man," Houshmandzadeh said. "They play to their strength, which is their front four and they get after the quarterback and they try to funnel everything underneath."
Which is where Houshmandzadeh did his damage. He had the team's longest catch, a 23-yarder, as the Pats' plan to choke off the long ball with a deep zone and dare the Bengals to run against the Front 7 worked to perfection because backup running back Kenny Watson had just 55 yards on 13 carries.
Left tackle Levi Jones, making his first start of the season, said the Patriots took advantage of the Bengals line rotation.
"They know things aren't right (because of injury) and they did some things," Jones said.