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The Patriots looked dead in the water for much of Sunday’s game against the Bengals, falling 22-0 before halftime.
But somehow, the Patriots were able to flip the script in the second half. A pick-6 from Marcus Jones got the Patriots on the board before the third quarter ended. In the fourth, Mac Jones and Kendrick Bourne stepped up to make some plays to help the Patriots get back in it. The duo connected for three big receptions, including a third-down touchdown pass that made it 22-12.
After a missed kick by the Bengals, the Patriots made it a one-possession game when Jones threw up a Hail Mary attempt on third-and-29 from midfield. Jones’ pass was initially deflected before landing in the hands of Jakobi Meyers for a touchdown to cut the Bengals’ lead to 22-18.
The Patriots appeared to have the game in their hands after Matthew Judon forced a fumble that set them up in Bengals’ territory. New England drove down to Cincinnati’s 5-yard line but with a minute left, Rhamondre Stevenson fumbled.
The Patriots had one last Hail Mary chance, but Jones’ pass to Tyquan Thornton fell incomplete and the Patriots lost, 22-18, and fell to 7-8 on the season.
Here’s everything that happened in Sunday’s game.
After the Bengals committed a false start on the opening play, they ran three straight times for just seven yards. New England had all three of its timeouts left, ensuring that it would get the ball back.
New England was on the doorstep of taking the lead. Rhamondre Stevenson picked up a key first down on third-and-short that got the Patriots to the Bengals’ 5-yard line. However, Stevenson fumbled on the next play, giving the Bengals the ball back.
On third-and-short for the Bengals, Matthew Judon made a game-changing play in pass coverage. He stripped the ball out of Ja’Marr Chase’s hand on a short pass, which was recovered by Marcus Jones to give New England the ball at Cincinnati’s 43-yard line.
Even after the Patriots won a pair of reviews, New England still faced a third-and-29 situation at midfield. Mac Jones ran around in the pocket for a moment before launching a ball down the field to practice squad tight end Scotty Washington. Washington tipped the ball, which found its way to Jakobi Meyers who ran a couple yards into the end zone for the score. Nick Folk’s ensuing PAT was blocked, keeping it a four-point game.
Cincinnati looked poised to add to its lead following New England’s touchdown. Tee Higgins hauled in a 31-yard grab to open the drive and the Bengals were in scoring territory a few plays later. However, a missed pass by Joe Burrow on third down led the Bengals to attempt a 43-yard field goal, which Evan McPherson missed.
New England is still hanging in there in the early stages of the fourth quarter. After stopping Burrow and the Bengals, Mac Jones led the Patriots to a touchdown drive by connecting with Kendrick Bourne a few times.
Jones found Bourne for a 19-yard completion on the first third down. On the next third down, he connected with Bourne again for a 32-yard gain over the middle to get the Patriots to the Bengals’ 9-yard line. And on third-and-goal, Bourne made a heads up play to keep his feet in bounds on a tight throw by Jones to make it 22-12.
New England wasn’t able to get the two-point conversion, keeping it a two-score game.
New England’s rookie corner has scored touchdowns on offense and special teams. On Saturday, he added a defensive touchdown. Joe Burrow threw the ball right at Marcus Jones as Ja’Marr Chase had his back facing the quarterback. Jones ran along the sideline and leaped over a diving Burrow to go 69 yards and get into the end zone.
Nick Folk missed the ensuing PAT, keeping the Bengals’ lead at 22-6.
New England took a couple of deep shots in its opening drive, with one of them nearly resulting in a big play. However, Tyquan Thornton dropped a pass from Jones that would’ve set the Patriots within the Bengals’ 10-yard line. Kendrick Bourne might have been interfered with on a third-down pass along that sideline, but the pass fell incomplete and there wasn’t a penalty called.
After getting the ball back at their 11-yard line, Jones was sacked on a corner blitz on first down and the Patriots were pinned back at their own 2-yard line. New England ran two quick passes despite needing 20 yards for a first, resulting in a punt and boos from the Gillette Stadium crowd.
The Patriots will be without their starting tight end for the remainder of Saturday’s game due to a knee injury. Henry suffered the injury on the Patriots’ opening drive and didn’t return to the game after that.
Cincinnati perfectly executed its two-minute drive prior to the half, going 12 plays and 80 yards on the drive to score a touchdown to go up 22-0. Cincinnati’s drive briefly stalled at the 4-yard line, but on third down, Burrow completed a tight pass to Trenton Irwin for a touchdown.
New England appeared to be getting some momentum late in the first half. Following McCourty’s interception, Kendrick Bourne rushed for 29 yards on an end-around that brought New England to midfield. Mac Jones took a deep shot to Bourne that traveled a bit too far. A quick screen resulted in five yards, but that was negated by a five-yard sack on third down that led to another punt.
The Bengals were driving and looking for more points in the middle of the second quarter. Joe Burrow picked up a first down on a fourth-and-short run before the Bengals got the ball in the red zone.
Burrow made his first mistake of the day when New England was down there, throwing a ball directly at Devin McCourty to give the Patriots the ball with 4:19 left in the first half.
Cincinnati scored once again, though it didn’t get into the end zone. Joe Burrow made two big throws on third-down plays once again. His first was a tight 18-yard throw to Trenton Irwin along the sideline. Matthew Judon committed a roughing the passer, moving the Bengals have the distance to the goal.
After a penalty by the Bengals’ offensive line moved them back 10 yards, Burrow stepped up and made a play once again by completing a pass to Ja’Marr Chase along the sideline on third-and-17. Joe Mixon ran into the end zone for a touchdown, but that was wiped off the board due to a hold. New England nearly got an interception in the end zone on a batted ball, but ended up holding the Bengals to three points.
New England’s offense still looks out of shape. Two runs by Rhamondre Stevenson resulted in four yards. On third-and-6, a design screen was blown up by the Bengals and Mac Jones had to throw the ball at the feet of Stevenson.
To make matters worse, Michael Palardy bobbled the punt and was only able to get his kick 22 yards down the field. Because of the bubble, Jahlani Tavai was flagged for an ineligible man down field.
After the Patriots went three-and-out, the Bengals did their thing and marched down the field for another touchdown. Joe Burrow and the Bengals made a couple of big third-down plays, with the quarterback scrambling for a first down on one and Joe Mixon rushing for the first on another.
Following Mixon’s third-down conversion, the Bengals ran no-huddle, catching the Patriots’ defense off guard as Burrow found Trenton Irwin over the middle for a 23-yard touchdown grab. McPherson missed the PAT again, however, the Patriots committed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the kick. The Bengals opted to go for two, but Samaje Perine was stuffed.
Cincinnati moved the ball down the field with ease on the opening drive. Tee Higgins, in particular, owned the Patriots’ defense. He made an impressive 39-yard grab over Marcus Jones before making a nine-yard touchdown grab. It took the Bengals fewer than three minutes to move the ball 78 yards for a score.
Evan McPherson missed the PAT, so the wind might be at play here today.
The game is just about to get underway. The Patriots won the toss and elected to defer, so the Bengals will get the ball first.
Jerry Edmund, the Patriots fan who was heckled by a woman at last week’s game in Las Vegas, was invited to join Robert Kraft in the owner’s suite for Saturday’s game. When he arrived at Gillette Stadium, he received a gift.
As players warm up prior to the game, some are all bundled up while others are embracing the weather.
The Patriots will be down a couple of key players on Saturday against the Bengals.
Damien Harris will miss his fourth straight game as he’s still dealing with a thigh injury. Cornerback Jack Jones will also miss Saturday’s game due to a knee injury he suffered in the Patriots’ Week 14 win against the Cardinals. Raleigh Webb, Sam Roberts, and Joshuah Bledsoe were the other scratches.
As for the Bengals, they’ll notably be without tight end Hayden Hurst and defensive end Sam Hubbard.
The Patriots will be without long snapper Joe Cardona (who suffered a season-ending ankle injury), cornerback Jalen Mills, and wide receiver DeVante Parker on Saturday.
While Rhamondre Stevenson and Jakobi Meyers are questionable, both are expected to play, according to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Running back Damien Harris, who has been out since he suffered a thigh injury on Thanksgiving Day, will reportedly be a game-time decision.
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