Wes Welker’s Two Touchdowns Propel Patriots to Victory

Wes Welker's Two Touchdowns Propel Patriots to Victory Final, Patriots 38-24: That was a nice way to open the season. The Patriots’ offense was predictably dominant, and their defense was spectacular in the plays that mattered. Stay with NESN.com for full postgame coverage.

Fourth quarter, 3:57, Patriots 38-24: Cedric Benson put some more makeup on the Bengals’ ugly performance with a one-yard touchdown run, but Cincinnati failed to convert on an onside kick.

Fourth quarter, 7:41, Patriots 38-17: After four consecutive runs, Tom Brady faked a hand-off to BenJarvus Green-Ellis and lobbed a pass high to Rob Gronkowski for a one-yard touchdown, and the Patriots were masterful with that 14-play drive to answer Cincinnati’s scores. They’ve got a lot to be happy about in this game.

Fourth quarter, 12:50, Patriots 31-17: Check out some more details on the Patriots’ inactives.

End of third quarter, Patriots 31-17: Tom Brady hit Wes Welker for 12 yards on the final play of the quarter, and the Patriots have embarked upon their first show-me drive of the young season. With the Bengals taking control of momentum, New England’s offense has to do its part to take some pressure off the defense.

Third quarter, 0:22, Patriots 31-17: The Bengals continued to take advantage of the Patriots’ conservative defensive approach, and then they pounced when Carson Palmer hit Chad Ochocinco for a 28-yard touchdown. Ochocinco was gun shy, though, and didn’t make an attempt to go for the minutemen.

Third quarter, 5:13, Patriots 31-10: The Pats were held to a three-and-out because Dan Koppen’s holding penalty negated a first-down pass to Alge Crumpler. Also, Stephen Neal left for one play with a left leg injury, and he was replaced by Ryan Wendell. Neal received some attention from the medical staff, but he appeared to be OK.

Third quarter, 7:54, Patriots 31-10: The Bengals finally found the end zone after a long, 12-play, 80-yard drive against a Patriots defense that really laid back. They primarily rushed three guys and dropped eight into coverage, and Carson Palmer took advantage of some free time in the pocket.

It was a pretty impressive use of the big tight end Jermaine Gresham, who was singled up against James Sanders in the back of the end zone. Palmer simply threw it high enough and away from Sanders, and Gresham basically reached over his head to snag the touchdown pass.

That was also a good series from nickel back Jonathan Wilhite. And defensive lineman Mike Wright did a good job of penetrating to the backfield, but he missed about three chances to sack Palmer.

Third quarter, 14:48, Patriots 31-3: The purpose of a squib kick is to limit a team’s return, so the Bengals get a big ol’ F on that play. Brandon Tate returned the second-half kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown to essentially end any doubt in this one. Tate has added a dynamic to the kick return unit that this franchise hasn’t seen in three decades.

Halftime, Patriots 24-3: Stephen Gostkowski tried to one-up Mike Nugent’s record, but his bid from 56 yards fluttered wide to the right just before the half. Prior to that, the Patriots ran a fake-spike play, and Tom Brady threw a two-yard pass to Brandon Tate that stopped the clock. The Patriots ran a number of such plays during training camp.

Second quarter, 0:28, Patriots 24-3: Mike Nugent’s 54-yard field goal was a Gillette Stadium record.

Second quarter, 1:14, Patriots 24-3: Holy cow, Mike Nugent had no problem drilling a 54-yard field goal to get the Bengals on the board. Let’s see how aggressive the Patriots get on this next possession with halftime looming.

Second quarter, 5:38, Patriots 24-0: With the Bengals in full-on passing mode, Gary Guyton has taken almost all of the reps alongside Jerod Mayo, and the linebacker just struck in a big way, jumping in front of tight end Jermaine Gresham, picking off a lazy pass from Carson Palmer and taking it 59 yards to the homeland.

Second quarter, 8:58, Patriots 17-0: It’s been a storybook return for Wes Welker, who caught his second touchdown pass of the game. Welker caught a four-yard touchdown pass over the middle, and the play survived a Marvin Lewis challenge. Brady went to Welker twice in a row, but credit a really nice diving breakup to Keith Rivers on second down. On third down, though, Welker was just too strong.

Second quarter, 11:30, Patriots 10-0: If Johnathan Joseph is looking for his dignity, Randy Moss just stole it. Moss juked the cornerback out of his jock and scampered 32 yards after a quick pass to the right. The Pats have it at the Cincy 24.

Second quarter, 12:19, Patriots 10-0: Bengals defensive end Jonathan Fanene left with an injury and is heading to the locker room.(Update: It’s Fanene’s right hamstring, and his return is questionable.)

Second quarter, 12:59, Patriots 10-0: Yet another stout effort from New England’s defense, which is winning the battle at the line, tackling well and taking advantage of an errant Carson Palmer. Funny how all the talk this week was of the Bengals’ offensive line’s size, yet many ignored their performance.

Second quarter, 14:51, Patriots 10-0: New England came back to earth with that possession, failing to pick up a first down after Rob Ninkovich’s fumble recovery. For the second consecutive series, Tom Brady’s third-down pass was missed by Kevin Faulk. Then, Stephen Gostkowski pulled a 47-yard field-goal attempt.

End of first quarter, Patriots 10-0: That was a nearly perfect first quarter for New England, which has played well in all phases. The Pats’ third possession hasn’t been as pretty, and they’ve got a third-and-11 coming up on the other side.

First quarter, 1:05, Patriots 10-0: Who said the Patriots can’t stop the run? James Sanders and Rob Ninkovich wrapped up Cedric Benson behind the line of scrimmage, and Benson coughed up the ball. Ninkovich dove on it at the Cincinnati 28, and the Patriots have a great opportunity to take a big lead early in this game.

First quarter, 2:29, Patriots 10-0: The Patriots’ 11-play, 56-yard drive stalled when Tom Brady’s third-down pass slipped through Kevin Faulk’s hands, but Stephen Gostkowski nailed a 32-yard field goal to extend the Patriots’ lead. That was another impressive drive, with the Pats showing a good balance between run and pass.

First quarter, 7:59, Patriots 7-0: Another good defensive series for the Patriots, who held the Bengals to a three-and-out. And in an interesting development, this game features two lefty punters.

First quarter, 9:00, Patriots 7-0: Wes Welker’s score marked the first touchdown of Sunday football in 2010.

First quarter, 9:47, Patriots 7-0: Welcome back, Wes Welker. The speedy slot receiver caught a screen pass and took it nine yards for a touchdown on New England’s first offensive possession of the season. Welker had bookend catches on the drive, which also featured a 45-yard pass to rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez, who took advantage of a botched coverage.

First quarter, 11:05: 0-0: The Patriots are in business right away. Aaron Hernandez was left wide open on the left side of the field, and he gained 45 yards on his first career reception to get the Pats to the Cincinnati 15. Kevin Faulk was credited with the start, but Fred Taylor was the first traditional running back on the field.

First quarter, 12:38, 0-0: Tully Banta-Cain and Myron Pryor combined to sack Carson Palmer on third down to amp up the crowd and create some big momentum for the young defense. The Patriots will take over at their own 28-yard line after Kevin Huber’s punt.

First quarter, 13:59, 0-0: The Bengals won the toss and elected to receive, and Kyle Arrington stuck returner Bernard Scott at the Cincinnati 18-yard line. Carson Palmer immediately tested rookie cornerback Devin McCourty, who knocked away a deep pass away from Terrell Owens along the left sideline.

12:59 p.m.: A flyover accompanied the national anthem, and the Gillette Stadium PA system followed by blaring “Highway to the Danger Zone.” Who’s ready?

12:55 p.m.: Tom Brady and Patrick Chung have led the Patriots onto the field, and the teams are just minutes away from kickoff. Viva la football!

11:51 a.m.: Here’s something to consider: Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who has had a pretty slow start to his rookie season, was a much more high-profile defensive end at Florida than Patriots rookie Jermaine Cunningham, is a healthy scratch. The Pats took Cunningham, who has been moved to outside linebacker, one spot before Cincinnati drafted Dunlap.

11:34 a.m.: The Patriots’ eight inactive players will be wide receiver Julian Edelman, offensive lineman Nick Kaczur, wide receiver Taylor Price, running back Laurence Maroney, cornerback Terrence Wheatley, linebacker Dane Fletcher, defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick and offensive lineman Steve Maneri.

11:31 a.m.: Wes Welker is warming up on the field, and he’s definitely wearing the bulky brace on his left knee.

11:27 a.m.: Interestingly, the Bengals are wearing their black jerseys, which means the Patriots won’t be wearing their traditional home blues.

11:13 a.m.: Cornerback Kyle Arrington is jogging around the field, which is a good sign. Arrington practiced through a groin injury this week, and if he wasn’t good to go, it’s unlikely he’d be on the field this close to game time.

10:47 a.m.: All right, after finally getting settled in here at Gillette Stadium, here are some updates. Wide receiver Julian Edelman, who is questionable with a foot injury, was on the field working out with trainers and, it looked like, wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea. That means he’s a game-time decision.

6 a.m.: The Patriots’ 2010 season officially opens Sunday at Gillette Stadium. They’ve got a brutal schedule this season, and the gauntlet starts right away with a big matchup against the star-stacked Bengals, who won the AFC North title last year.

NESN.com will have you covered throughout the day, so keep the live blog fresh on your page. For starters, check out our loaded preview content, including Kicking Off, the scouting report, Three Keys to Victory and Across Enemy Lines.

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