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Halftime analysis: Bengals 3, Patriots 3

10.06.13 at 2:21 pm ET

The Bengals and Patriots are tied at three after two quarters in Cincinnati. Here are a few quick notes:

‘€¢ The Bengals were clearly interested in testing the Patriots defensive front without Vince Wilfork, as they went run-heavy right out of the gate. New England, which opened in a 4-3 base, utilized Joe Vellano in the middle (in Wilfork’s old spot) and Brandon Spikes down in the box). Cincinnati was unable to get much of anything going over the first two series, but on its third series, they put together an impressive sequence with a good run-pass mix that got them all the way to the New England 9. That’s where Brandon Spikes stepped in front of an Andy Dalton pass for Tyler Eifert at the 8-yard line. Nice read and react play by Spikes, who also had an impressive tackle for loss later in the half. (It was the first red-zone pick of Dalton’s career.)

‘€¢ The Bengals were able to get good pressure on Tom Brady (11-for-20, 90 yards) early, as the first two New England drives came to an end with punts following sacks of the quarterback — one by Geno Atkins and another by Wallace Gilberry, both on plays where the rushers were unblocked. But it was clear that the Patriots were looking to use Cincy’s aggressiveness against them with screens and play-action. (Brandon Bolden had a rough drop on a screen that ultimately led to a punt.) While it was clear that LeGarrette Blount (9 rushes, 42 yards) was the lead back — and ran well when given the chance — New England wasn’t able to get much offensive consistency in the first and into the second quarter. The Patriots had their first real scoring chance in the second quarter when New England crossed into Cincy territory for the first time, but Bengals linebacker Carlos Dunlap stripped Blount, forcing the fumble.

‘€¢ After the fumble, the Bengals were able to put together their best drive of the first half when Dalton led the Bengals on a 10-play, 49-yard drive that took 4:42, and ended when Mike Nugent connected on a 39-yarder to make it 3-0 with 3:17 left in the first half.

‘€¢ The Patriots had a shot to score at the end of the half, but a Brady pass for Kenbrell Thompkins that would have allowed New England to pick up a key first down was overturned, forcing New England to punt with less than a minute to go in the second quarter. The Patriots got the ball back with less than a minute to go after the Bengals decided to punt it away, and New England got a 42-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski to knot the game at three as the half came to a close.

‘€¢ Veteran running back Leon Washington went down with an ankle injury midway through the second quarter — the team announced that his return was questionable.



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