With his first Bengals' sack since 2011, Pat Sims dumped Tom Brady, one of three Cincinnati sacks on the day.
FOXBORO , Mass. - After holding Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on four of his first five third downs as Sunday's game lurched into the middle of the third quarter and they held on to a 14-10 lead, the game suddenly changed for the Bengals.
A holding penalty. A sack for a safety. No coverage on tight end Rob Gronkowski on 38 yards after holding him to 41 yards in the first half.
Patriots 35, Bengals 17.
"Coach said it best after the game," said Bengals nose tackle Domata Peko. "You can't make mistakes against good teams. You can't make those types of mistakes here. Especially in crunch time."
"It's disappointing," said head coach Marvin Lewis, who thought his defense played well for the most part. "it is disappointing that, you know, we don't play the entire game that way. That you take that handful of six or seven plays and that gets you beat. But six to seven plays can get beaten, those (big) plays end up going for 200 yards likely and end up making three touchdowns."
-The Bengals may be working out centers Tuesday. Russell Bodine left on the last play of the third quarter with an ankle injury and T.J. Johnson played the rest of the way. Lewis indicated it's not broken, but Johnson is the last center on the roster and even an ankle sprain is at least a week or two and possibly more. -The play of the game? The Bengals had just taken a 7-3 lead and a Vontaze Burfict blitz left Brady starting at third-and-18 from his 17 with 2:31 left in the first half.
Punt? Field goal? Then cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick was called for illegal contact. First down. 1:30 later, a TD for a 10-7 half-time lead.
"I wouldn't have called it. I felt like it was cheesey. They called it but we have to play through it," Kirkpatrick said. "It's kind of heartbreaking especially for me because I pride myself in putting our defense in the best position. A call like that can change the momentum of the game."
-Another thing you can't do against Brady is leave touchdowns in the red zone. The Bengals' red-zone struggles continued. They couldn't convert on fourth-and-one from the 1 down 3-0 early in the first quarter. With Peko at fullback and running back Jeremy Hill tender with a chest injury, the Bengals ran running back Giovani Bernard at the left and the play was blown up.
"All of a sudden there was a lot of penetration there," Peko said.
Peko was also in the game on second down when the same type of play was stoned. Peko was supposed to take the safety, but linebacker Elandon Roberts came up to make the stop. -On third down, quarterback Andy Dalton tried a quick fade to wide receiver A.J. Green working on cornerback Malcolm Butler, but it was thrown just inches too close to Butler and away from Green for an incompletion.
"We have to get better on stuff like that,' Green said. "That's the first fade we threw this year. A couple of years ago we were money on fades."
No question for Lewis. Down 3-0 with about nine minutes left in the second quarter he was going for it on fourth-and-one and not because he felt Brady breathing down his neck.
"I feel like I'm to go for it with at any point, against anybody, anytime," Lewis said. "I'm going to go for it inside the 1-yard line. You know, early in the football game, particularly. We ended up scoring the touchdown after that because of field position. You know, that's the other side of things, you have the opportunity to stop them, get field position and then continue to drive the football again."
-Later in the game Green thought he was held on a corner route in the end zone: "Second straight week. But you have to run through it."
That's when they were down, 25-17, early in the fourth quarter, and couldn't convert second-and-two from the Pats 7. Running back Jeremy Hill got wrapped up for no gain up the right inside and on third-and-two Dalton couldn't hook up with Green.
-After being called for that crucial hold in the third quarter, first-year starter Cedtic Ogbuehi was benched at right tackle for Eric Winston on the next series. But on the next snap the Bengals gave up safety on a sack by Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower on a delayed blitz that didn't get picked up on a play by those not on the line.
Lewis wouldn't say if the move is permanent,
"I felt like he needed to get settled down," Lewis said.
-It got a little chippy late. In the middle of the fourth quarter. Gronkowski, who had been yapping all during his second-half rampage, got hit with a taunting penalty after a 12-yard catch. So did Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount, tagged for unnecessary roughness after he scored the last touchdown in the last minute.
"I think both these teams seemed a little frustrated," Lewis said of the scrums. "So I don't know if it was necessarily our guys."
Gronkowski took responsibility for the flag and when asked if he thought the Bengals were trying to bait him for a second 15-yarder that would get him thrown out of the game.
"I don't. They do that every game. If you watch film, they're always baiting everyone to do that. They're a tough, physical team. They're physical football players," Gronkowski said. "They're big, and they hit hard. I feel like that's the style that they play, so I kind of gave into it when I got my penalty, and I've got to watch out for that, but after that, I just had to stay away. I didn't need a second one and to get thrown out of the game, so I was good. I was just clearing myself out. After we scored that one touchdown, I let everyone else celebrate. I was just clapping so I didn't get a penalty, so it is what it is."