Patriots coach Bill Belichick has gone over the film from Sunday’s 13-6 loss to the Bengals, and what he saw on replay matched up with what he saw as the game unfolded: the Patriots had too many missed opportunities.
“We had our chances, but we weren’t able to make enough plays in the end for the game to come out in our favor,” he said. “We had good plays in all three phases in the game (but) there were not enough plays to turn things in our favor. We have to improve all the way across the board.
“Learn from this one and move on to New Orleans. That’s what we have in front of us.”
Belichick acknowledged that there were a couple of plays that were unfortunate, or the ball just didn’t bounce the Patriots’ way, but the team has to focus on the things that don’t fall into the “luck” category.
“I think there’s always going to be a few of those plays in the game that you say, ‘that was fortunate for us’ or ‘that was unfortunate for us.’ You hope those even out in the long run,” he said. “We have to do a better job with the things we can control. Sometimes the ball does take a funny bounce… But we have to do a better job on the things we can control.”
One of those situations came at the end of the third quarter, when the Patriots had the Bengals back up against their own goal line, after a near-safety from a Tommy Kelly/Chandler Jones sack of Andy Dalton that put Cincinnati in third-and-15 from the 2.
The Bengals ran their play quickly, before New England could get all of its players in position, and Dalton hit Marvin Jones with a 28-yard sideline pass. The Patriots were unprepared for the play.
“It’s a play we’ve dealt with before. We’ve seen it through the years, they did a good job with it,” Belichick said. “We definitely weren’t ready for it when the ball was snapped, a few guys were getting into position. It was a strategic play that worked for them and they caught us on it. Everybody on their side was set, we just weren’t ready when the ball was snapped and they hit us on it.”
Belichick also said it wasn’t the Bengals “pattern” to run a quick-snap play like that on third down.
After the pass to Jones, rookie back Giovani Bernard ripped off a 28-yard run, helping to set up the game’s only touchdown and the winning margin for Cincinnati.
The Patriots’ Ryan Allen had eight punts on Sunday, five of them downed inside the 20-yard line, with three of those downed inside the 10. Belichick said punt and kickoff coverage was solid, but things could have been better on the returns.
“I thought our punt team overall gave us good field position…a couple of times we were backed up, and we had good coverage. The punting game and field position was good,” he said. “The opportunities in the punt game and kicking return game, we really didn’t take advantage of opportunities that we had there. If we could have finished a couple of blocks, there were potentially a couple of big plays to be had there. We just couldn’t make that key block for a game-changing-type play.”
Asked about the second play of the game, when Cincinnati all-pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins dropped Tom Brady for an 8-yard sack, Belichick said that play was more about Atkins not biting on the play-action than a breakdown by the offensive line.
“It was a play-action pass, one that we’ve run many times through the years and on that particular play I don’t think Geno really took much of the play-action. He penetrated (and) we weren’t able to get a solid block in front of him because we were selling the run,” Belichick said. “Obviously we could have executed it better, but it was a good play on his part.”