The Patriots’ 13-6 loss to the Bengals on Sunday was the first time the Patriots did not score a touchdown since a 16-9 loss to the Jets in Sept. 2009. This was also the first time in 53 regular season games in which Tom Brady did not throw a touchdown pass, a streak of 52 consecutive games that left Brady two games short of Drew Brees’ NFL record of 54.
On his weekly appearance on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan program, Brady pinned the blame of the Patriots woes against Cincinnati on himself and the offense’s lack of taking advantage of their opportunities.
“We actually had a pretty good week [of practice], so it was just a day [where] we never really found any rhythm,” he said. “It seemed like every series we had a play that kind of knocked us backwards and got us off track, and just couldn’t string together enough good plays to get us in the end zone… We just had one of those days where nothing really seemed to go right, and we had plenty of opportunity out there we just never took advantage of it.
“[It was] pretty disappointing to lose the game; hopefully we can learn from it and move forward this week and have our best game.”
One area of particular struggle for the Patriots was their play on third down, in which they converted just one of 12 chances.
“If you can’t stay on the field because you’re not converting third downs then you never really get a chance balance the game out running the ball,” Brady said. “Because we [failed] on third down we just really could never get [the Bengals] into a situation where they [had to start] playing defensively, so they were able to do whatever they wanted with us. We played totally on their terms all day because of our lack of ability to convert on third downs.”
On their one trip inside the red zone, the Patriots attempted a play on second and goal from the one yard line in which they would fake the run and try to pass to Nate Solder, who had come in as a tight end, but the play failed as the Bengals saw right through it and had Solder covered.
“Nate is as athletic as they come so we were just trying to kind of give them a hard sell play-action pass and hopefully they step up and then Nate would be running free,” Brady said. “[Solder] got tied up at the line of scrimmage a little bit and it looked like the linebacker actually got his hands on him and slowed him down a little bit, and we just ended up not executing the play. We don’t draw them up [as they] happen, we draw them up to try and get those guys clean and free, and in practice it actually looked pretty good, so that’s why we called it.”
A major question that has lingered over the Patriots has been about the return of Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski, who would have been useful to have in third down situations and their trip inside the red zone. He has now missed all five of the Patriots games after it was reported he could play as early as Week 4. Brady did not disclose if he knew when Gronkowski would actually return.
“I have no idea [when he will be playing], I kind of wait and see like everyone else,” he said. “It’s not my decision, the guys that I am out there with I have plenty of confidence in, so whatever role anyone plays is really up to them and the way they feel, you know we haven’t had [Gronkowski] all year [and] we haven’t had him all spring, so we’ve had plenty of practices without him, but our overall execution needs to be a lot better regardless of who’s out there.
“We really haven’t had a practice where we’ve had our whole offense out there yet, so we got to do that first of all and see what we can really do.”
The Patriots return home this week to face Brees and the electric New Orleans Saints, who are 5-0 and have averaged over 26 points per game. New England has scored over 26 points just once this season.