|Setting the scene: Brutally cold winds in store for Patriots-Broncos at Gillette||11.24.13 at 5:45 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The 14th edition of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady may very well come down to which quarterback can handle the brutal and hostile conditions throughout the night at Gillette Stadium.
The temperature at kickoff is expected to be 20 degrees but with winds howling out of the north at 25 MPH, wind chills will hover around 2 degrees for most of the night. The wind will be blowing in from the open (north) end of the stadium and could factor heavily into not only the passing game but the kicking game as well.
The game figures to be one of the coldest in the history of Gillette Stadium and could make many think back to the AFC divisional game with Tennessee on Jan. 10, 2004 when the Patriots had to hold on for dear life for a 17-14 win over Steve McNair and the Titans. That night, the game – also played in primetime for TV – was held in Arctic conditions.
The temperature at kickoff was 4 degrees with a wind of 15 MPH creating a wind chill of minus-14. That game still remains the coldest home game in Patriots history.
Tonight’s game is on NBC television and NBC announcer Cris Collinsworth will surely bring up the coldest game of his career. On Jan. 10, 1982, Collinsworth’s Bengals beat Air Coryell and the San Diego Chargers, 27-7, in a legendary AFC championship game know as the “Freezer Bowl.” That game was actually played in the sunlight of Riverfront Stadium but the sun did little to provide comfort. The temperature that day in Cincinnati was minus-9 at kickoff with winds swirling outside, making it feel like 59 degrees below. It remains the coldest game ever played.
The “Ice Bowl” between the Packers and Cowboys was actually colder in terms of real temperature (-13) but the wind chill was officially only 48 below. Peyton Manning has not had much success playing in the cold. He is 2-5 in his last seven games played under 30 degrees, including the playoffs. But his numbers show he’s not as terrible as the record suggests.
In Manning’s last eight games under 40 degrees, he is on a streak of seven straight games where he completed at least 70 percent of his passes. He has completed 177 of 243 passes (72.8%) for 2129 yards, with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and a 105.5 QB rating. He is 4-4 in those eight games and his offenses have averaged 26.5 points per game.
The winds were so strong that they forced the Patriots to cancel a pre-game ceremony in which they unveiled an American flag that covers the entire field.
|Danny Amendola: ‘It was good to get back out there’||10.06.13 at 10:19 pm ET|
CINCINNATI — It was not the return Danny Amendola envisioned but the fact the wide receiver was able to get through his first complete game with the Patriots in rainy weather on a slippery track is a good sign. He may not be at full strength but Sunday was an indication that he is certainly on his way.
Amendola didn’t start the game but he did enter on third down of the game’s first drive. He wasn’t targeted until the second quarter but wound up finishing with four catches on nine targets for 55 yards. All of this after missing the last three games with a groin injury.
“It was good to get back out there,” Amendola said. “We didn’t get the job done today, just have to get better.”
Trailing 13-3, the Patriots appeared to have scored a touchdown that would have drawn them within three points and extended Tom Brady’s touchdown streak to 53 games.
Amendola caught a pass from Brady at the Bengals 1 and tried rolling over backwards into the end zone. But Amendola was ruled to have been touched down at the Cincinnati 1 after a touch by Bengals safety Chris Crocker. The Patriots stalled over the course of the next three plays and had to settle for a Stephen Gostkowski 19-yard field goal.
“I caught it. I knew I was close,” Amendola said. “I tried to roll in. I thought I was going to be in but it didn’t roll that way.”
Then, Patriots had two chances in the final three minutes to get the game-tying touchdown. After Gio Bernard fumbled, the Patriots went three-and-out, including an Amendola drop on second down.
“It was just a play I need to make, a big play on the drive, a big play in the fourth quarter. Regardless, I’ve got to get that. Just get it next time.
“They did everything we expected them to do, really. It really came down to making plays. We just need to get better, look at film get better for next week.”
Amendola said he can’t wait to get back on the field with Brady next week at home against New Orleans.
“It’s the second game I’ve played with him,” Amendola said. “I’m really looking forward to playing with him next week.”
The rain in Cincinnati provided a good test for Amendola before the game when he sprinted out onto the field just after 11 a.m. after being cleared to play.
“It was just something that was day-to-day all week and just felt good enough to play. I felt good to get back out there. It felt like I could run like I wanted to and move around. Just obviously didn’t end up like we wanted to but have to get back to work.”
Then, late in the fourth quarter, torrential rains returned and Amendola felt confident that his groin would not be compromised.
“It was raining but that’s something we practice,” Amendola said. “We anticipate playing in the rain. We just need to get better. It’s not something I wanted to think about during the game. I was full-go. Weather was weather. You can’t control that. I feel good right now. I felt like I could play better.”
Amendola was not alone in that regard Sunday.
CINCINNATI — No one would blame perennial Pro Bowl left guard Logan Mankins if he had bad flashbacks to the Super Bowls against the Giants on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
The Bengals, led by Pro Bowl nose tackle Geno Atkins, disrupted and dismantled the Patriots offensive line all day, resulting in four sacks, five tackles for losses, eight hits on Tom Brady and seemingly countless other hurries. Atkins just signed a five-year, $55 million extension before the season began. On Sunday, the Patriots got a good dose of why Bengals owner Mike Brown invested the money.
“They’ve got a good front,” Mankins said. “Geno Atkins, he’s the real deal, that’s why he’s getting paid a ton. He’s an all-pro guy. You have to do your best against him. They’ve got some good ends. They complement each other well.”
The Patriots defense kept the Bengals out of the end zone with the exception of one 93-yard scoring drive but the offense could never get into gear, something that Mankins said he felt bad about after Cincinnati’s 13-6 win.
“We practice together all week,” Mankins said. “Offensively, it comes down to making plays, the line blocking, backs running, receivers catching, quarterback making good throws and making the right reads. We’re just not getting enough of that right now.
“Today the defense played great, as they have all year. I think we really let them down.”
On the first two drives, the Patriots called play-action passes and both times the Bengals defensive line snuffed it out and sacked Brady.
“I think the first half we ran the ball pretty good,” Mankins said. “The second half, we didn’t really run it very many times. We just threw the ball pretty much. Maybe we just got into the [pass blocking] groove a little bit better there. Some of those pressures in the first half were play-action passes that I think their defense did a good job of scouting those. They played them perfect where we didn’t have a chance to block them in that scheme. They’re getting paid, too. You have to chalk it up to them sometimes.”
|Tom Brady: ‘Just a poor performance all around’||at 5:42 pm ET|
CINCINNATI — Tom Brady wasn’t concerned about his streak of touchdown passes coming to an end at 52 games in a 13-6 loss to the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. He was more concerned with why it happened.
Brady was just 18-of-38 for 197 yards, with one interception and no touchdowns for the first time since 2010. There was good reason for Brady’s day of misery. He was sacked four times, hit eight times and hurried constantly all day. Brady couldn’t find the end zone with a pass or a run for the first time since a 16-9 loss to the Jets in Sept. 2009. His quarterback rating of 52.2 is unofficially the seventh-lowest of his career.
“It wasn’t our best day of execution today,” Brady said. “We certainly let some opportunities get away in the first half. We had too many times where we had negative plays and it took us out of field position. It wasn’t very good execution. I give them a lot of credit. They have a great defense that puts a lot of pressure on you in many areas. Our execution needed to be good today, and it wasn’t.”
As for the streak?
“I’m bummed we lost,” Brady said. “That’s all that really matters.”
All that really seemed to matter for Cincinnati was their championship caliber defensive line, led by Geno Atkins.
“We did a good job applying pressure on him,” Atkins said. “We made sure he couldn’t step up [in the pocket]. As a whole, we did a great job pushing the pocket.”
Brady felt badly for his own defense, that held Cincinnati to just one touchdown and took away Andy Dalton’s weapons all day.
“They have been playing great all year,” Brady said. “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. It is hard to drive the ball down the field if you keep making those mistakes.”
Brady seemed to struggle with communication all day, including when the Patriots got to the Bengals 1 in the fourth quarter, trailing, 13-3. Julian Edelman went in motion just as the Bengals were calling timeout on defense. Brady clapped his hands together in anger and frustration as Cincinnati got a chance to regroup.
“That is always something that we are trying to handle on the road,” Brady said. “They do a pretty good job of disguising blitzes and so forth. They got us several times today, especially in the fourth quarter. We had plenty of opportunities and chances in the red zone to get it in today and we just didn’t. It was just a poor performance all around.”
CINCINNATI — Danny Amendola will finally make his return for the Patriots on Sunday as he has been cleared to play and is active for the game against the Bengals. Amendola has missed the last three games with a groin injury suffered in the season opener in Buffalo.
The following players were ruled out by the Patriots for Sunday’s game against the Bengals: special teamer Matthew Slater, running back Stevan Ridley, wide receiver Austin Collie, tight end Rob Gronkowski, offensive lineman Chris Barker, linebacker Steve Beauharnais and safety Tavon Wilson.
No surprises with the four who were downgraded to out before Sunday morning: Gronkowski, Ridley, Wilson and Slater. With Gronkowski being out, this Michael Hoomanawanui, Matt Mulligan and fullback James Develin should get extensive work at that tight end/fullback spot, as they have done for most of the year to this point. And with no Ridley, expect more on the plate of LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden. (Bolden will likely see more snaps on special teams in Slater’s spot.) Leon Washington could also see significant snaps, especially on third down.
Barker and Beauharnais are two healthy scratches, victims of a numbers game. And Collie, who was just signed this week, likely needs more time in the system before he’s game ready.
There are three intriguing names who weren’t part of the injury list: Aaron Dobson, Danny Amendola and Leon Washington, all of whom have been dogged by injury, are active for the game. Look for Dobson and Amendola to work extensively in the passing game, and Washington to offer some depth at running back and returner.
For Cincinnati, they are without two key starters on defense as pass rushing specialist and defensive end Michael Johnson (concussion) and cornerback Leon Hall (hamstring) are inactive. Wallace Gilberry takes Johnson’s spot while Adam “Pacman” Jones is likely to take the spot of Hall. The Bengals could also feature more of defensive end Margus Hunt, the rookie out of SMU and one of the stars of “Hard Knocks” this summer.
Mike Petraglia contributed to this report from Cincinnati.
|Setting the scene: Patriots take on Bengals in the rain||at 10:35 am ET|
CINCINNATI — The Patriots ball security figures to be tested as they take on the Bengals in the fifth game of the season here at Paul Brown Stadium.
Steady rain, with a chance of thunderstorms, is in the forecast, with temperatures expected in the low 70s for the 1 p.m. kickoff on the banks of the Ohio River.
The Patriots will again enter the game without the services of tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was ruled out Saturday night for the fifth straight week. He is still recovering from offseason back and forearm surgeries. He could make a return to action in Week 6 against the Saints.
Sunday against the Bengals could mark the return of wide receiver Danny Amendola, who has missed the last three games with a groin injury, suffered in the first half against the Bills. He was listed as “questionable” on Friday’s injury report. Amendola, wearing game pants, sprinted out to the field at about 11:15, ran around the outside of the field and joined a group of Patriots in early stretching.
Sunday will not be the debut of wide receiver Austin Collie, who was signed on Thursday. He was designated as inactive 90 minutes before kickoff. The Patriots listed four receivers on their injury report on Friday, including Aaron Dobson, who was questionable with a neck injury despite practicing this week.
The Patriots lead the all-time series, 14-8, including wins in the last four meetings and seven of the last eight. The last Cincinnati win in the series was the season opener in 2001 when Corey Dillon led the Bengals to a 23-17 win over Drew Bledsoe and the Patriots at Paul Brown Stadium. That is also the only time Belichick’s Patriots have lost to the Bengals.
Marvin Lewis is 0-4 all-time against Belichick and Tom Brady has put up at least 34 points in each of New England’s last four games against Cincinnati.
This is a homecoming for Patriots wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, who attended the University of Cincinnati in 2011 and 2012.
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