The New England Patriots looked to put a halt to their two-game losing skid when they went into Cincinnati to face the 1-12 Bengals. The story of the last few weeks for the Patriots has been the struggling offense. Despite the struggles, New England was able to right the ship against the Bengals winning by a score of 34-13. Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson both recorded a pair of interceptions en route to New England’s convincing victory.
New England Patriots vs Cincinnati Bengals: Stephon Gilmore Shines in Win
The Patriots came into this week in desperate need of a win. Coming off of back to back losses to the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs, New England sat at 10-3 and in danger of losing their first-round bye. The Bengals presented the perfect opportunity to get back on track. At just 1-12 the Bengals have had a difficult time in just about every facet of the game. The belief was that the Patriots would be able to find their offense again and reassert themselves as the top team in the AFC. However, this was only partially the case.
The Patriots got off to a flat out terrible start to this game. After scoring on their first drive of the game, the defense let Bengals running back Joe Mixon run wild. Cincinnati seemed to be getting anything they wanted on the ground early on. In addition to a suddenly porous defense, the Patriots offense began to stall out. Several drives ended in punts before New England recovered a muffed punt and was able to tack on a field goal at the end of the second quarter. Despite a bad start, the Patriots were able to take a 13-10 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Stephon Gilmore, Defense Dominates
The story of the second half was by far the defense. The unit began the second half strong when cornerback Stephon Gilmore intercepted Andy Dalton on the Bengals opening drive. From there it was off to the races, with Tom Brady connecting with rookie receiver N’Keal Harry for a touchdown to extend the Patriots lead. Both the offense and defense took a major step in the right direction during the second half, looking like much more cohesive units all around.
Later on, the Bengals began to find their footing again and were moving steadily downfield. Then Gilmore was able to intercept his second pass of the afternoon, this time running it all the way back for a touchdown. New England tacked on two more interceptions for a total of four on the afternoon. Cornerback J.C. Jackson collected the other two interceptions for the Patriots. Gilmore’s two interceptions highlighted what was yet another dominant performance for the All-Pro cornerback. He continues to build himself a strong case for Defensive Player of the Year as the Patriots head down the final stretch of the regular season.
Coming up next for New England is division rival Buffalo. This game has massive playoff implications for both teams. With a win the Patriots will clinch yet another AFC East championship and all but cement themselves a first round bye. The Bills pushed the Patriots to the limit in their first matchup this season and are arguably a better team now than they were back then. However the game will be played in Foxborough so that gives New England an obvious advantage. It will no doubt be a tough game, but at the same time a good test of where this Patriots team stands before the playoffs begin. Week 16 should bring a playoff feel to Gillette Stadium when the Bills and Patriots clash for the final time in the regular season.
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