We could probably spend all day listing the players who underperformed against the Bengals — starting with Tom Brady — but let’s get the positives out of the way first.
New England’s defense was stout against the Bengals, allowing just 13 points and 341 yards. The Patriots limited A.J. Green to 61 yards and they kept the tight ends under 100. They definitely had issues stopping the rushing game, especially Giovani Bernard, who ran for 62 yards on 13 carries.
The Patriots were looking decent at defending the run until Tommy Kelly got banged up. They can probably afford to lose one starting defensive tackle because the rest of the defense is so strong. But losing two was brutal. It’s amazing they were able to stop the Bengals on third-and-two at the end of the game.
Let’s go through the top 5 performers in Sunday afternoon’s game.
Jerod Mayo: The captain missed some tackles, but he was all over the rushing game and got some decent pressure on Andy Dalton. Mayo finished with 11 tackles, 1/2 sack and a deflected pass. It was Mayo’s best game of the season based on my first impression.
Chris Jones: The Bowling Green rookie finished the game with 1 1/2 sacks. He may need to be counted on heavily moving forward to get some pressure up the middle if Kelly has to miss any time. Jones got pushed around a little bit in the run game, but overall it was a positive performance for the sixth-rounder.
Alfonzo Dennard: Dennard did a great job stopping Mohamed Sanu, who he was matched up on for much of the game. Aqib Taib has got all the praise, but Dennard has had a fantastic season and that continued on Sunday.
Aqib Talib: Talib wasn’t as dominant as he was against the Falcons, but he still limited a top-tier receiver to five catches for 61 yards. Some of the hype may die down for Talib to be Defensive Player of the Year, but he’s still playing like a top 5 cornerback.
Ryan Allen: Allen had an incredible performance, pinning Cincinnati inside the 20-yard line five times. He finished with eight punts for 353 yards. The Bengals returned three punts for 17 yards. Allen continuously put the defense in position to let up yards, but still stand up the Bengals’ offense.