The New England Patriots started the regular season Sunday with a 38-24 win over the Cincinnati Bengals through a combination of overwhelming offense and sound defense.
The Patriot offense performed to their usual caliber, with WR Wes Welker -who recently recovered quite speedily from an ACL tear- making eight receptions for 64 yards scoring two touchdowns. TE Rob Gronkowski also contributed 6 points. Even the ground game did some damage as Fred Taylor rushed 14 times for 71 yards.
The surprising aspect, however, was New England's defense. With two rookie cornerbacks in Devin McCourty and Darius Butler guarding two of the games flashiest receivers -Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco- the Patriots were able to hold the two to a combined 19 receptions and one touchdown.
Patriot LB Gary Guyton also intercepted a pass which he returned for a touchdown.
The Patriots played a well-rounded game including an offensive contribution from the special teams. Kick returner Brandon Tate fielded a wildly bouncing ball which he returned 97 yards for an additional 6 points.
After the first half, the Patriots had held the Bengals to a measly three points to New England's 24. Though New England ran into its normal 3rd quarter troubles, allowing another 14 points from the Bengals while only scoring 7, it was once again the defense which stepped up to squelch the offensive efforts of QB Carson Palmer and Cincinnati's star-studded offense.
Next Sunday, the Patriots hope to conjure up a similar effort on both ends of the ball, as they travel to the New Meadowlands Stadium to take on division rival the New York Jets. The defense will once again have to face big name receivers such as Santonio Holmes, Jericho Cotchery, and Braylon Edwards.
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