By: Ian Logue/
August 22, 2004

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CINCINNATI, OH -- It may only be a preseason game, but if you're a Patriots fan there was little positive that can be taken from the 31-3 trouncing they received from the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday night.

It was downright painful to watch.

The Bengals marched up and down the field at will against the Patriots defense, while the Patriots offense couldn't seem to get out of their own way. Tom Brady and company had a tough time sustaining drives, while runningback Corey Dillon had a tough night in front of his former fans. Dillon carried the ball 11-times for 31-yards and lost a fumble and was booed every time he touched the ball.

Needless to say when it was over Belichick wasn't too impressed with what he had seen.

"They were outstanding in every phase of the game,” Belichick told the media after the game. "We didn't do much of anything. I thought they totally dominated the game obviously, every phase of it.”

"We obviously have a lot of work to do.”

Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer was impressive, finishing the night 12-of-19 for 179-yards and 3-touchdown passes, with a quarterback rating of 133.6. Brady meanwhile had a tough night, largely because the Patriots offensive line couldn't keep him protected in the pocket. To make matters worse the running game didn't fare any better, with Dillon getting stuffed repeatedly by a Bengals defensive line that did a great job of spoiling his homecoming.

Dillon came out with the Rohan Davey and the offense to start the 3rd quarter and carried three times for 19-yards in their opening drive, but on their next possession the former Bengal fumbled and lost the football, ending what was likely a night he'd like to forget.

Down 28-3 the starting defense came out to start the third quarter, forcing a three-and-out. But after Dillon's turnover they allowed the Bengals to march from their own 21 down to the Patriots 15-yard line before holding Cincinnati to a field goal.

When asked about his personnel decisions that late in the game, Belichick said that it didn't seem to matter who was on the field as it didn't have any impact on the end result.

"We played different combinations of people, and it all turned out the same,” said Belichick. "They took the ball, they moved it down the field and they scored. We took the ball, ran 3 plays, and gave it back to them.”

That was exactly how the game started.

On the second play from scrimmage Palmer connected on a 48-yard toss to Chad Johnson, giving the Bengals a 1st-and-10 from the Patriots 18-yard line. Three plays later Bengals runningback Rudi Johnson took it in from 1-yard out to give the Bengals a 7-0 lead.

The Patriots quickly gave the ball back after a 3-and-out, and Palmer went back to work. The Bengals quarterback took them 56-yards on 8-plays and capped the drive with a 13-yard strike to Tony Stewart to increase their lead to 14-0.

But Palmer wasn't done. Another 3-and-out by New England gave the ball again back to the Bengals, and Palmer instrumented a 14-play 75-yard drive that ended in a 9-yard touchdown strike to T.J. Houshmandzadeh to put them up 21-0 and the rout was on.

New England finally showed signs of life on their next possession, with Brady opening the drive with a 31-yard toss to Daniel Graham to put the Patriots at their own 38-yard line. Brady then completed a pass to Deion Branch for 17-yards, and after being sacked on the next play, Brady got back up and went right back to Branch for completions of 10 and 28-yards. An 8-yard pass to Dillon set up first and goal at the Bengals 6.

However Cincinnati's defensive line stopped Dillon's attempts to pound the ball into the endzone, and the Patriots would end up settling for a 25-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri.

The Patriots punted on their next possession, and later had one last chance to score with just over a minute and a half left in the first half. It was a situation that Patriots fans were accustomed to seeing success from their two-time Superbowl MVP. Instead Brady threw an interception on their first play from scrimmage, and it took the Bengals just five plays to punch it in and take a 28-3 lead at the half.

Despite the fact they had just four days to prepare for them, the Bengals made it look easy. When it was over Belichick said it was simple, his team has a long way to go.

"We didn't coach well, we didn't play well,” said Belichick. "We got totally outclassed tonight.”