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How the Patriots got off to the races

09.13.10 at 5:59 pm ET

FOXBORO — Bill Belichick has always harped on the importance of scoring in all three phases of the game.

Yes, it’s great that Tom Brady threw three touchdowns on Sunday and it’s heartwarming and inspiring that two of them went to the NFL’s bionic man, Wes Welker.

But when you stop and look at Sunday’s 38-24 win over the Bengals, the difference in the game was evident. Gary Guyton returned an ill-advised Carson Palmer pass 59 yards for a touchdown with 5:38 left in the first half to make turn a 17-0 lead into a 24-0 cushion.

‘€œAll I could think of was, ‘€˜Run, Gary, run. And get the touchdown,’€™ Guyton said. “There was definitely a fear. If I get caught by the quarterback, I won’€™t hear the last of it. All I was thinking about was running.

‘€œI was just looking at the pylon. It was the closest thing to me. So I was just running. Keep on running, that’€™s all.’€

Guyton, in his third year out of Georgia Tech, had the responsibility of covering the talented rookie tight end Jermaine Gresham on the play. He stayed with him on an edge route off the line of scrimmage and read Palmer’s eyes perfectly before making a very athletic grab of the pass.

‘€œI was reading my responsibility,” Guyton said. “And once I looked back at the quarterback, the ball was in the air, so I decided to make a play on it. I just put my arms out, squeezed the ball and kept on running.

‘€œIt is. It’€™s my first one. Going into my third year, so I finally got me a pick and a touchdown.’€

After putting together a 12-play drive that ended on a 54-yard Mike Nugent field goal, and after pumping fluids into Chad Ochocinco and fixing the shoe problems of Terrell Owens [no joke] the Bengals sensed a bit of momentum coming out of halftime.

That lasted all of 12 seconds.

Speedy Brandon Tate did to the Bengals what he did to the St. Louis Rams on the opening play of the game back on Aug. 26. He shredded the Bengals’ coverage unit and returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown.

Nugent, fresh from his 54-yard effort, hit a knuckleball that hit at about the 15 and bounced strangely to Tate.

‘€œFirst, they did like a squib kick that kind of messed up our reads, but I just got it, made a guy or two miss and I was off to the races,” Tate said. “To tell you the truth, I thought it was going to mess up everybody. I thought everybody was going to stop blocking and try to get back and get the ball, but everyone stayed to their assignment. So, like I said, my hat goes off to my teammates.

“I figured once I beat the kicker, I just threw my head back and took off.’€

In doing so Tate and the Patriots essentially turned the second half into garbage time.

Belichick is more than aware that 28 is greater than 21 and with the Bengals’ offense, though dormant for most of the first half, a turnover here, a stop there and a hot Palmer against a sometimes spotty Patriots D, and 21 points doesn’t look so insurmountable.

“We made some plays when we needed to make them,” Belichick said. “That was good. Two returns for touchdowns ‘€“ you hope for that, but you never really can go into a game planning on that. So to get 14 kind of bonus points like that, retuning a kick, returning an interception for a touchdown, that’s a great boost to the scoreboard there. You usually don’€™t count on those points.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Brandon Tate, Cincinnati Bengals, Gary Guyton



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