By: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
August 12, 2005

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CINCINNATI, OH -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady got the evening off on Friday night, giving way to a battle for who will play behind him during the Patriots 23-13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Rohan Davey got the starting nod but didn't do much to give head coach Bill Belichick much confidence in him. Davey finished the game just 4 of 7 for 42 yards, but the biggest concern so far for the third year quarterback has been his lack of accuracy during practice and it carried over into Friday's game. Davey repeatedly overthrew receivers, including throwing an interception. To make matters worse the offense struggled to sustain drives and managed just a field goal with Davey at the helm.

That all changed when with 3:55 left in the first half Matt Cassel entered the game. The former back-up at USC executed the team's two-minute offense well, marching them 82 yards on 14 plays which culminated in a 20-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jason Anderson on a play where Cassel audibled out of a Bengals blitz prior to the snap.

Cassel played the remainder of the game and finished the night 13 of 21 for 135 yards, and also scrambled for 46-yards on the evening.

Not a bad outing for a guy who threw all of 33 passes during his four years as a back-up at USC. It was the most playing time Cassel had seen since he was a senior at Chadsworth High School in Southern California, and he outplayed the guy he used to back-up in college after Bengals QB Carson Palmer was a mere 4 of 11 for 37 yards and threw an interception. Cassel also finished with a quarterback rating of 96.3 compared to Palmer's less than impressive 8.5.

Palmer's woes began on the first play of the game for Cincinnati when he was picked off by Asante Samuel when attempting to go deep to Charles Johnson. Unfortunately New England couldn't capitalize after Davey couldn't get the offense started on the team's first possession.

The Bengals came right back on their next possession, driving from their own 17 to the Patriots 25 on the back of Bengals running back Rudy Johnson. But Cincinnati would have to settle for a field goal attempt which sailed wide left, allowing New England to dodge a bullet.

Four plays later Davey was picked off, and the Bengals would come right back and this time convert a field goal, taking a 3-0 lead with 14:46 left in the half.

But a 31-yard kick return by Kevin Faulk helped give the Patriots good field position, and after a 15-yard pass to running back Patrick Pass, and a 15-yard run later by Pass kicker Adam Vinatieri nailed a 48-yard field goal to knot the score at 3-3 with 10:11 left in the 2nd quarter.

The Bengals then came back and put together a 13-play 69-yard drive that ate up 6:11 from the clock, marching from their own 24 all the way down to the Patriots 7. Cincinnati added a field goal and took a three point lead with just 4:00 left in the half.

That was when Cassel came in, and things didn't exactly start off too well after the rookie QB was sacked on the first play from scrimmage. But he came right back and began marching the team down the field, completing two passes of 8 and 12 yards to tight end Jed Weaver. He then threw an 8-yard completion to Patrick Pass followed by a 4-yard pass to Anderson on a 3rd-and-2 to keep the drive going.

From there Cassel showed some athleticism after picking up 6 yards, and even picking up 8 more on a 4th-and-4. Following an 8-yard pass completion to Pass Cassel rushed for 12 yards to help set up the 20 yard touchdown pass to Anderson giving the Patriots a 10-6 lead at the half.

He returned to start the second half and helped get things started right away. The Patriots marched 61 yards on 16 plays before the drive stalled and the team had to settle for a 29-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri to increase their lead to 13-6.

The Patriots defense then forced a three-and-out, and there was a new star who emerged on the team's next possession. Runningback Kory Chapman picked up 28-yards on his first carry and helped set up a 42-yard field goal by Vinatieri to increase New England's lead to 16-6.

After the Bengals fumbled away the football early in the fourth quarter, Cassel made his first big error of the night, fumbling away the football after a sack on the ensuing play. The Bengals then marched from their own 29 all the way down to the Patriots 3, and got some help from the Patriots defense following a 33-yard pass interference penalty on defensive back Hank Poteat. Cincinnati then scored a touchdown and cut the lead to 3 at 16-13 with 7:21 left in the game.

But Cassel kept his cool and marched the Patriots from their own 32 down to the Bengals 4 before fullback Kyle Eckel took the ball in from 4-yards out to give New England their final points of the night.

The Patriots will now return home to prepare for next week's opponent, the New Orleans Saints who will come to Gillette Stadium next Thursday night.


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