Looking back at Sunday's loss to the Bengals it's hard not to take notice of one of the most pivotal points in the game, and you have to give Cincinnati a little credit for doing something that the Patriots had been known for themselves.
The play came in the third quarter, when New England had the Bengals backed up at their own two yard line following an eight yard sack by Jerod Mayo and Tommy Kelly. The Patriots had seemed to be grabbing some momentum, and had Cincinnati facing a 3rd-and-15 from their own two yard line.
But the Bengals turned the tables on New England, turning up the pressure at the right time by going to a quick count which caught the Patriots off guard, and Andy Dalton hit Marvin Jones on a 28 yard pass that extended the drive and ultimately led to a touchdown for the Bengals, the only one of the afternoon.
It was a frustrating moment and to add insult to injury, coming into the game, New England hadn't allowed an opponent to convert a 3rd-and-more-than-10 attempt all season, having stopped opponents 12 times in that situation. But the one they allowed Sunday will be the one that will haunt them, and Belichick admitted on Monday that the fact Cincinnati took a chance and ran a quick play was something they simply just weren't prepared for.
"It's a play that we've dealt with before," said Belichick during his conference call. "The other team is in a long-yardage situation, just goes on a quick count, like Cincinnati did, and just runs everybody down the field. We've seen it through the years, [it's] not anything that's revolutionary. But they did a good job of it, they got set, they snapped the ball quickly.
"We definitely weren't set when the ball was snapped. We had a few guys moving into position and I would say, mostly we got into position but obviously it wasn't good enough. It was a good play on their part and it was not a good play on our part. But I think it was definitely a strategical play that worked for them. They caught us on it. Nothing illegal about it, everybody on their side was set. We just weren't ready when the ball was snapped and they hit us on it."
Had they stopped them, New England may have ended up in good field position since had the Bengals punted from their own two yard line, it likely would have given the Patriots the ball at midfield. Instead the Bengals did something else that the New England's defense hadn't allowed all year. They ripped off a 28 yard run on the next play, which then put the ball into Patriots territory. Prior to that play the Patriots hadn't allowed a run by a running back all season longer than 13 yards, and like the play before, it ended up being a big one because it really put New England on their heels and they couldn't stop them.
From there Brady and the Patriots offense were forced to watch from the sidelines as Cincinnati held the ball for nearly eight minutes, and it ended aftere BenJarvus Green-Ellis did something New England failed to do on their ensuing drive, and that was punch the ball in from one-yard out for a touchdown.
"We just weren't well enough prepared for it," said Belichick on the quick count the Bengals ran. "It obviously wasn't well coached on our end. That's my responsibility. We should have been better prepared for it, but at the same time, we've dealt with no-huddle, quick-snap offenses from the first day of training camp, the first preseason game and all the way through the year. So quick snaps and being ready to go and all that, that's always part of the game. That was really the issue on it, just being set and being ready to play."
Overall it's not like the Bengals had a lot of success on third down, as they converted just 6-of-15 (40%) on the afternoon. Unfortunately New England ended up being that much worse after going 1-for-12, with Brady and the offense coming up empty for the most part. He was 5-for-9 passing on 3rd down on the afternoon, but only had one conversion, which came in the second quarter. They had zero in the second half on Sunday.
"Because we sucked on third down, we just really could never get them into a situation where they started playing defensively," Brady said Monday during his weekly appearance on WEEI. "They were able to really do whatever they wanted with us and we played totally on their terms all day because of our lack of ability to convert on third down."
Hopefully that works out a little better this week against New Orleans.
KNOCKED OUT OF THE LEAD:
Coming into Sunday's game, Julian Edelman had been tied for the league lead in receptions, but three receivers are now ahead of him in the standings. After last night's performance where he caught eight passes against the Jets, Jones now has 41 catches on the season and lead's the NFL, followed by Houston's Andre Johnson and New Orleans' tight end Jimmy Graham, who are both tied with 37. Edelman was held largely in check by the Bengals, hauling in just two passes on seven targets. He now has 36 catches for 354 yards and two touchdowns, as well as a team leading 16 first downs.
NO LUCK THROWING DEEP ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE FIELD:
After updating our Patriots stats database, it's interesting looking at the receiving chart. So far this season Brady's thrown to the deep part of the field on the right side nine times this season, and has yet to complete a pass to that zone. The players targeted by attempt are Aaron Dobson (4), Kenbrell Thompkins (2), Josh Boyce (1), Danny Amendola (1), and Shane Vereen (1) round out the list of guys who have come up empty. New England was 0-for-2 on attempts there on Sunday against Cincinnati, with Amendola and Dobson each targeted once.
ON TO THIS MORNING'S LINKS:
Callahan: Tom Brady will rise again - Gerry Callahan - Callahan has a column this morning on Brady, who he writes from the outside looks like a bad year but those of us who watch him in New England know that's not really the case.
Patriots report card: Grades are offensive - Ron Borges - Borges has his weekly report card, and has some harsh comments for the receivers and offensive line from Sunday's game.
Conversion disorder - Jeff Howe - Howe looks at New England's third down issues on Sunday, including the fact the Patriots failed to connect to anyone other than Brandon Bolden yesterday.
Passing-game woes really are a team effort - Zuri Berry - Berry writes that Brady got little help from his receivers on Sunday, who accounted for six drops in the 13-6 loss to the Bengals.
Brady hopes to rebound with 'best game' - Jeff Pini - Pini writes that Brady hopes to rebound on Sunday against New Orleans this weekend after Sunday's loss in Cincinnati.
Bill Belichick: Patriots let chances slip away - Shalise Manza Young - Manza Young has comments from Belichick on Monday where the coach admitted that the team had their chances but couldn't quite make enough plays.
Dennard court date continued to Nov. 13 - Shalise Manza Young - Manza Young writes that Alfonzo Dennard's court date was moved to November 13th, five days before their Monday night game against Carolina.
Patriots re-sign CB Cole, waive two - Shalise Manza Young - In this entry she notes that the Patriots have re-signed Marquice Cole, and Kanooris Davis and linebacker Ja'Gared Davis have been waived.
Getting to know the Saints - Field Yates - Yates takes an early look at the Saints, giving us a glimpse at the Patriots upcoming opponent.
Punter Ryan Allen was one positive Sunday - Field Yates - Yates looks at the performance of Ryan Allen, who did a good job keeping the Bengals in poor field position on Sunday.
Early season loss leaves Patriots at familiar crossroads - Christopher Price - Price looks back at past seasons and notes that the Patriots aren't strangers to losing tough games during the first half of the season.
Tom Brady Unhappy With Patriots Lack of Execution on Offense - Luke Hughes - Hughes has comments from Brady during yesterday's weekly interview with WEEI, with Brady saying they need to start playing at a higher level.
Patriots' loss to Bengals a real third downer - Rich Garven - Garven has an article on how the team played on third down yesterday, along with some of their other issues.