New England Patriots vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Full Roster Grades for the Patriots
Playing in a city named after fifth-century B.C. Roman statesman—and, at times, reluctant dictator—Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, the Patriots seemed to at times be playing against Neptune—the ancient Roman god of the sea.
Torrents of rain fell as the Patriots tried to muster a final game-saving drive. Through the deluge, cornerback Adam Jones was able to spot an underthrown ball by Tom Brady and held on to the interception to preserve a hard-fought 13-6 victory for Cincinnati.
Check out the grades for each New England Patriots player.
Tom Brady: D+
Brady didn't look himself after taking some hits early in the game. He certainly wasn't helped out by six drops and an anemic running game, but he held on to the ball too long and was unable to locate wide-open receivers at times.
Needless to say, the Patriots are going to need a better performance from Brady to beat the New Orleans Saints next week.
LeGarrette Blount: C
Blount was the most productive rusher of the day for the Patriots. He totaled 51 yards on 12 carries, but his fumble near the red zone was disastrous.
Brandon Bolden: C+
Bolden's six catches on eight targets might have been the most impressive performance from a Patriot on Sunday, if it were not for his two critical drops. Bolden continued to run hard and pick up dirty yards on the ground.
James Develin: C-
Develin only saw the field for seven plays, failing to generate a lot of movement in the run game. He did get open on a pass play, but Brady chose to throw to a covered Julian Edelman instead.
Danny Amendola: C-
Amendola's groin looked to be fine, but his hands were certainly questionable. He dropped three passes on the day and may have work to do to get back into Tom Brady's good graces.
Julian Edelman: C+
Edelman had a decent day returning punts, but only caught two balls on five targets. With Amendola eating up some of his targets, Edelman will likely see a drop-off in his production.
Kenbrell Thompkins: C
Thompkins fought for tough catches over the middle—totaling three catches and 16 yards—and didn't have a drop. He nearly brought in a great catch on third down, but couldn't quite hold on.
Aaron Dobson: B-
Dobson had the play of the day in the passing game, running for nearly 40 yards down the field before fumbling and then recovering the ball. Dobson was open down the field on a few other plays, but Brady couldn't find him—including one play on the final drive where Dobson saw an open middle of the field and ran a post, while Brady threw to the corner.
Josh Boyce: I
Boyce only saw the field for one snap, not earning a target.
Michael Hoomanawanui: B-
Hoomanawanui caught one ball for two yards and was decent in the blocking game—both in pass protection and on runs.
Matthew Mulligan: C-
Mulligan only saw the field for seven snaps, not registering a target or gaining much ground in the run game.
Sebastian Vollmer: B
Vollmer had one of the more solid games in pass protection for New England, only giving up two pressures on the night. He hasn't looked as explosive as he's been in the past in the run game this year, but he hasn't been a liability.
Nate Solder: C+
Solder had his work cut out for him against the tough Bengals defensive line. He gave up a couple of sacks on the night, but it is hard to fault his technique.
Logan Mankins: C-
Mankins had another poor performance this week, getting beaten on multiple run plays. He survived in pass protection, but the once-stalwart left guard really needs to take his game up a level if the Patriots' run game is going to get jump-started.
Ryan Wendell: B
I thought Wendell bounced back nicely against Cincinnati, opening up some cracks in the run game while only giving up one pressure in pass protection.
Dan Connolly: C
Connolly gave up four pressures in the passing game and wasn't much better on run plays. I expect to see Marcus Cannon gain some more playing time if Connolly doesn't improve.
Marcus Cannon: I
Cannon logged two snaps and was able to get some movement in the run game. I wonder if we'll see more of Cannon at guard if Connolly doesn't improve.
Joe Vellano: D+
Vellano was overmatched for much of the game, as he was maneuvered out of the hole by the Bengals' interior linemen. In the positive column, he was able to hurry Dalton twice.
Chandler Jones: B-
Jones had a few impact plays—four pressures, including getting in on two sacks—but was relatively quiet outside of that. He fell asleep on a couple of important run plays, but continues to show he is the future cornerstone of the Patriots defensive line.
Rob Ninkovich: B
Tommy Kelly: B+
Kelly was leaned on to be a stalwart inside against the Bengals in place of the injured Vince Wilfork. He brought consistent pressure up the middle and held his own in the run game before succumbing to injuries. The Patriots will need a healthy Kelly down the stretch to generate pressure inside.
Chris Jones: C+
Jones was able to get a bit of pressure on Dalton, but was pushed around in the run game and is—with no disrespect to Jones—certainly a downgrade from Vince Wilfork.
Michael Buchanan: I
Buchanan was in on only six pass-rush snaps, failing to record a pressure.
Jerod Mayo: B+
Mayo had another solid game, registering two sacks on the day and making life difficult for Gio Bernard in the passing game. Mayo has really led this defense from full-blown disaster a few years ago to a superb unit.
Dont'a Hightower: C-
This is the first poor grade I've given to Hightower this year. He looked stiffer in coverage than normal and was not his sure-tackling self, missing in space on Jermaine Gresham.
Brandon Spikes: A+
Spikes was an absolute force in the run game, totaling 10 tackles and countless subtle influences on the Bengals running backs. Also a good sign for Spikes, he performed well in coverage when he played in the nickel package.
Jamie Collins: C
Collins saw the field for 10 plays and didn't register much of an impact. I'd like to see Collins be used in a few more blitzing situations.
Aqib Talib: A-
Talib's job wasn't to shut down A.J. Green, it was just to contain him. He held the polished Green to just four catches on his watch—another win against a top-level receiver.
Alfonzo Dennard: A-
Dennard didn't have a ball thrown in his direction on Sunday, which is always a good sign for a defensive back. Talib and Dennard are really starting to find a rhythm this season.
Devin McCourty: B+
McCourty gave up a couple of passes in his areas, but his tackling was sound as usual. The continuity with him at safety this year has led to an improved defense overall in New England.
Steve Gregory: B+
Gregory just keeps doing his job. He rarely does anything spectacular—unless Mark Sanchez is around—but his fundamentals keep the Patriots defense running smoothly.
Kyle Arrington: C-
Arrington was a key part of the nickel defense and held his own in the run game, coming up with four big tackles. Unfortunately, Andy Dalton was a perfect 5-of-5 throwing in his direction.
Duron Harmon: C+
Harmon filled in for Steve Gregory and the injured Tavon Wilson on a handful of plays. He doesn't look lost on the field, which is a big step for a rookie to take in Coach Belichick's defensive system.
Logan Ryan: I
Ryan logged only four snaps in the game, seeing some work in sub-packages.
Stephen Gostkowski: A
Gostkowski had a relatively quiet day. He kicked off three times—including two touchbacks—and hit on both field goals.
Danny Aiken: A
Did you hear Danny Aiken's name? No, you say? Then he had another great game.
Ryan Allen: A
Allen had a fantastic day punting in less-than-perfect conditions, netting 42.0 yards per punt. Five of his eight punts were downed inside the 20-yard line.