CINCINNATI – If the Patriots defense can hold an opponent to a couple of field goals and one touchdown, you could normally count on the team's offense to produce at least a few touchdowns to help them get ahead.
Not anymore. Not after an overhaul on offense and injuries that have wiped out the team's top offensive weapons.
In a 13-6 loss to the Bengals on Sunday, the Patriots totaled 248 yards, including 82 yards rushing with running back Stevan Ridley out. The team managed only 15 first downs on 60 plays. On third down, the Patriots were an abhorrent 1 of 12. Added all up, their inability to execute made the Bengals defense look really good, holding the Patriots to two field goals while going scoreless in the red zone.
"They have been playing great all year," said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady of the Bengals. "You can't expect to kick two field goals and win many games in the NFL. We can do a better job than that and we are going to have to if we want to win these games.
"We had too many silly execution errors and mental mistakes today. It is hard to drive the ball down the field if you keep making those mistakes."
The passing game suffered against the Bengals' pass rush, which sacked Brady four times. He finished 18 of 38 for 197 yards and an interception. It was the first game since Sept. 20, 2009 -- a 16-9 loss to the New York Jets -- that Brady did not throw a touchdown pass, ending a 52-game streak that had him two games behind all-time leader Drew Brees (54).
Said Brady of the streak, "I'm bummed that we lost. That's all that really matters."
What was particularly frustrating for Brady on offense was the inability to get a touchdown at the Bengals' 1-yard line.
"We tried a goal-line run and they did a good job of stopping us," he said. "Then we tried a goal line pass and they stopped that one. It came down to third down and we were close. We just didn't execute it the way we needed to. That is the way these games are – they come down to a few plays. If you make them, you put points on the board. And if you don't make them, you kick field goals."