On to Cincinnati: The Birth of the New England Patriots’ Second Dynasty

On to Cincinnati

It’s crazy to think about now, but there was a time where it looked like Tom Brady might retire as a three-time Super Bowl champion. After a relatively pedestrian 2013, Brady and the Patriots came out of the gate slow in 2014. New England went 2-2 in September, culminating in an embarrassing 41-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Father Time was just around the corner, and the Patriots had the next big thing in second-round quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. However, rather than letting the dynasty die, the Patriots were on to Cincinnati and used the Week Five victory as a springboard to take home three of the next five Super Bowl titles.

2014 AFC Divisional Round: Patriots Greatest Moments

On to Cincinnati: New England Patriots Greatest Moments

Normally, a 43-17 Week Five win isn’t anything that unusual for the Patriots. However, the lead up to this game was anything but ordinary. As previously mentioned, New England’s unprecedented run of success appeared to be coming to a close. Tom Brady looked old, Bill Belichick looked like he lost his touch, and free agent signees like Darrelle Revis and Brandon LaFell weren’t living up to their potential.

The sky was falling, and everyone was looking to Bill Belichick for answers. Rather than give in to the panic or try to justify the state of the team, Belichick repeatedly said that he was “on to Cincinnati”. This became the 2014 Patriots’ rallying cry, and it all began in Week Five against the Bengals.

New England entered Week Five looking vulnerable while the Bengals were the hottest team in football. At 3-0, Cincinnati was the last undefeated team in the league and had two weeks to prepare for New England. The Patriots desperately needed a victory, and Cincinnati wasn’t an easy win.

The Actual Game

The Patriots were down after four weeks, but they quickly proved that they were not out. New England got the ball to start the game and quickly and methodically drove down the field. New England didn’t record a single point on their opening drives in September but clearly figured something out in Week Five.

Brady led off the game with a 20-yard strike to Brandon LaFell. Four plays later, Brady and the Patriots faced first and 10 from the Bengals’ 14 yard-line. Brady dropped back to pass but quickly took off for a six-yard gain. Brady was clearly fired up after the run and the game might as well have ended there. Hell hath no fury like a pissed off Tom Brady, and it was clear that Brady was out for blood. This game was going to be a slaughter, and there was nothing anybody could do to stop it. New England faced fourth and one two plays later, but Brady refused to settle for a field goal. Brady snuck for four yards and, two plays later, Stevan Ridley capped off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run.

The Bengals moved the ball well during their first drive, but Mike Nugent missed a 52-yard field goal to give New England fantastic field position. The Patriots faced a third and eight five plays later, but Brady found Gronkowski for a 27-yard gain to move the chains. In doing so, Brady became the sixth quarterback in history to throw for 50,000 passing yards. One play later, Brady found Tim Wright for a 17-yard touchdown and the slaughter was officially on.

A Three-Phase Blowout

The offense made the headlines, but every member of the 45-man gameday roster played a big role in the blowout. Trailing 17-0, the Bengals tried to get on the board with a last-second drive to close out the second quarter. That plan quickly backfired as Darelle Revis forced an A.J. Green fumble. Jamie Collins picked up the fumble and advanced it all the way down to the Cincinnati 25. While New England couldn’t get a touchdown, they managed to add a Stephen Gostkowski field goal to make it 20-0 at the half.

The Bengals got on the board with a Mohamed Sanu touchdown early in the third, but New England quickly extinguished any hope of a comeback. Starting at their own 14, Brady led the Patriots on an 11-play touchdown drive. Brady found Rob Gronkowski for his second touchdown of the game, but that wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for Shane Vereen’s 19-yard run on third and 16.

Gronkowski’s touchdown made it a 27-7 game, but the Patriots weren’t done. The offense and defense had already made huge plays, and the special teams unit added to the fun on the ensuing kickoff. Former Patriot Brandon Tate took the kick, but Brandon Bolden forced a fumble on Cincinnati’s 17-yard line. Kyle Arrington scooped up the fumble and took it to the house to complete the blowout.

Lasting Ramifications of “On to Cincinnati”

The Patriots were not supposed to win this game, and they certainly weren’t supposed to win in that fashion. New England carried the “On to Cincinnati” rallying cry throughout the season; first to the playoffs, then the Super Bowl, and then immortality.

The Patriots carried that momentum throughout the rest of the season, going 13-2 over their final 15 games, with one of those losses being a meaningless Week 17 matchup against the Buffalo Bills. At one point, New England faced off against five straight division leaders and went 4-1 over that stretch.

The 2014 Patriots had perhaps the best heart and passion of any team in recent memory. While they didn’t pull off a 28-3 comeback, they proved throughout the season that nothing could keep them down. Whether it was erasing a 10-point fourth quarter deficit in the Super Bowl or coming back from multiple 14-point deficits in the AFC Divisional Round, the Patriots always found a way to prevail in the end.

That attitude and refusal to quit was born in Week Five. A washed-up quarterback and outdated head coach faced off against an undefeated Bengals’ team on the heels of their worst loss in over a decade. Instead of accepting their fate and rolling over, Belichick and Brady used this game as a springboard to bring in three more championships.

The best part is that they’re not done yet. After all this time, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are no longer on to Cincinnati. Instead, the duo is on to Super Bowl LIV, where they hope to bring an NFL-record seventh Lombardi Trophy.

2014 AFC Divisional Round: Patriots Greatest Moments

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