The Patriots aren't used to winning as narrowly as they have recently, but they really aren't used to losing.
Several streaks ended on Sunday, including the Patriots' four-game winning streak to start the season. The Patriots had won six straight road games dating back to 2012. Quarterback Tom Brady had thrown a touchdown pass in 52 consecutive games dating back to 2010.
Even with so much going wrong for the Patriots, there were still a few things that went right. Here's a look at some of the players that stood out, for better or worse, on Sunday.
Ryan Allen: The Bengals had plenty of opportunities to put the game away, had it not been for awful field position. Allen averaged 42 net yards per punt, one of the two best marks of the season, and he landed a career-high five punts inside the Bengals' 20-yard line and four inside the 10-yard line. Allen has been up-and-down thus far, but he has picked himself up off the ground after tough games against the Bills (36 net yards per punt average) and Buccaneers (38.7 net average).
Brandon Spikes: The definition of an impact performance; finished the day with seven tackles, five assists and five stuffed runs, along with the team's lone interception of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. Spikes' value has come into question at times due to his limited role in run defense, but he was spotted in the nickel defense at times in favor of second-year linebacker Dont'a Hightower.
Stephen Gostkowski: Gostkowski went 2-for-2 on field goals of 42 and 19 yards. He is now 13-for-14 on the season (92.9 percent), and is tied for second-most attempts in the NFL. Gostkowski has not missed a field goal since Week 2 against the Jets, and has made at least two field goals in each game this season.
Nate Solder: Yielded some early pressure on Brady, and was at least partially responsible for sacks by defensive tackle Geno Atkins and defensive end Wallace Gilberry, which resulted in third-down stops on the Patriots first and second drive, respectively. It was an uncharacterstic performance for an offensive tackle who has been responsible for just seven total pressures on Brady this season, and no sacks.
LeGarrette Blount: Seldom is there a "good time" to fumble, but it certainly wasn't when Blount fumbled on the Patriots' fifth drive of the day, their second of the second quarter. The Patriots moved 29 yards in four plays before Blount fumbled on the Bengals' 32-yard line. He only carried the ball three more times for the remainder of the game. With Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley both out, the Patriots can't afford poor output from Blount.
Tom Brady: The franchise quarterback completed less than 50 percent of his throws for the second time this season; that's the most times it's ever happened in one season in his career (2003, 2006, 2009). With a 52.2 passer rating on the day, it was his first game below a 55 passer rating since Week 2 of the 2009 season against the Jets. In general, Brady didn't look comfortable in the pocket, a sight which has been all too common of late.
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