FOXBORO, Mass. — A tightly contested first half gave way to a lopsided second half Sunday as the New England Patriots raced away from the Cincinnati Bengals in a 35-17 victory at Gillette Stadium.
Some assorted notes from the Patriots’ fifth win of the season:
— After being flagged for taunting during a contentious fourth quarter, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was sure to stay away from the wild celebration that followed LeGarrette Blount’s touchdown run in the game’s final minutes.
Even with a Patriots win all but sewn up, Gronkowski did not want to risk picking up another personal foul, which, per NFL rules, would have resulted in an automatic ejection.
But after a video review overturned Blount’s touchdown and forced him to plow his way into the end zone again two plays later, Gronk couldn’t help himself.
“Yeah, that was a little disco dance,” Gronkowski explained after the game. “But just a little celebration that we scored right at the end, LeGarrette did a great job. He just barely missed getting in on that first play, and then the second one, he launched himself over and got that touchdown, so it was a little celebration, staying clear from any penalties.”
Gronkowski also took responsibility for his taunting penalty, but it was clear he did not exactly agree with the call.
“I’ve got to take full responsibility on that personal foul on me,” he said. “I can’t be letting that happen. It’s a good thing that it didn’t hurt the team in this situation. I mean, we got the win, but down the road, it can always hurt the team getting a personal foul. I’ve definitely got to be more aware of that and take responsibility on behalf for that penalty.
“But, I mean, things get a little heated, and there was really nothing really even said. I was just bobbing my head, I think, and they gave me a personal foul.”
Penalties aside, Gronkowski was nearly unstoppable for the Patriots, catching seven passes for a career-high 162 yards and one touchdown in the win.
— Speaking of contested calls, Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick laid into the officiating crew after the game. He had beef with two penalties called on him: an illegal contact on third-and-18 that helped set up the Patriots’ first touchdown and a fourth-quarter facemask call.
“That was terrible,” Kirkpatrick said of the illegal contact call, via WEEI.com. “Terrible call. That was a terrible call. I feel like they pick and choose when they want to make calls. At the end of the day, you still got to play through the calls, through all the (BS) they want to throw at us.”
On the face mask, he added: “I felt like on the facemask call, (Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman) grabbed my facemask first. You see my head plain as day turned to the side. They obviously picked on me and said it was my fault.”
— Ex-Patriots wideout Brandon LaFell, who had a touchdown catch for the Bengals in his return to Foxboro, also had some high praise for his former quarterback, Tom Brady.
“I always appreciate Tom,” LaFell told WEEI.com. “I always appreciate Tom. He knows that. Every time I talk about Tom, I let everybody know I appreciate what he did. But what he did today, that’s something I saw every day in practice. That’s something I saw when I was on the team for the last two years. and that’s something that’s going to continue to happen, because Gronk is special.”
Brady completed 29 of 35 passes for 376 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images