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By: Brian M. Hines
New England looks to improve to 8-7 on the year.
After a heartbreaking last-second defeat last weekend, the New England Patriots return home to Foxboro to take on the Cincinnati Bengals. New England needs a victory to maintain a realistic shot at the playoffs, but have a daunting task in front of them that starts with the defending AFC Champions, who have won 10 out of their last 12 games, including six straight.
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Live Score: Patriots 0 : 22 Bengals
December 24, 1 p.m. ET | Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA | Broadcast Information | Inactives
After winning the coin toss, the Patriots deferred putting Joe Burrow and the Bengals offense on the field first. Burrow got right to work, as he found tight end Mitchell Wilcox for an eight-yard gain before finding Tee Higgins downfield for 39 yards – who went up and over Marcus Jones to make the snag. Quickly down in New England territory, Burrow hit Joe Mixon out of the backfield for a 17 yard catch and run to move into the red area. Two plays later Burrow found Higgins again for a nine-yard touchdown. The extra point was missed, however. [Patriots 0 : 6 Bengals]
On New England’s first offensive drive of the day, they failed to get anything going. A first-down handoff to Rhamondre Stevenson picked up two-yards, then a RPO handoff to the back picked up four. On third-down, nobody was open downfield and Mac Jones was brought down for a sack. New England punted after an opening three-and-out.
Injury Report: DB Brenden Schooler (shoulder) is questionable to return.
Looking to extend their early lead, running backs Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine got to work through the air and on the ground picking up 18 yards on the first four plays from scrimmage. Facing an eventual third-and-three, Burrow was able to escape the pocket and convert by himself. Several plays later just outside the New England red area, Burrow launched one to the end zone and connected with Trenton Irwin for a 23-yard touchdown. Evan McPherson missed a second straight extra point, but a defensive penalty negated it. Cincinnati decided to go for two, but the handoff was stuffed by New England. [Patriots 0 : 12 Bengals]
The Patriots again started their next drive with two straight handoffs to Stevenson, who picked up six yards before losing two on the next carry. On third-down, a miscommunication led to Mac Jones throwing one in the ground near Stevenson leading to a punt.
Injury Report: TE Hunter Henry (knee) is questionable to return.
Cincinnati kept their foot on the gas on their next drive, as Burrow found old pal Devin Asiasi for six yards and then dropped a dime to Irwin on third-down for 18 yards. A late hit by Matthew Judon tacked on another 15. Pressure by Judon on the next play forced an illegal use of hands penalty, backing Cincinnati into a first-and-20. It ultimately didn’t matter, as Burrow delivered a beautiful ball along the sideline to Ja’Marr Chase for 18 yards on third-down. A then holding penalty on Asiasi negated a Joe Mixon touchdown. New England’s defense then held strong and forced a field. [Patriots 0 : 15 Bengals]
New England’s offense got to work in what’s still a two possession game, but again failed to make much progress. A first-down completion to Jonnu Smith for nine yards followed by a Kevin Harris three-yard run converted their first first-down of the afternoon. But a play-action incompletion downfield followed by two short completions resulted in a punt.
Burrow connected with Wilcox for six yards and Chase for 11 to start Cincinnati’s next drive. After a deep pass to Chase was then broken up by Jonathan Jones, Matthew Judon got home and brought down Burrow for a sack. Facing third-and-12, Burrow found Higgins for an 11-yard gain. Cincinnati stayed on the field on fourth-and-one where Burrow kept it himself for a conversion. After a catch-and-run for 12 yards from Chase, Burrow hit Higgins and then Boyd for another first-down. New England’s pass rush then heated up, as Uche recorded a sack and Judon got home again, but an illegal hands to the face penalty (Uche) negated his second sack of the afternoon. Two plays later, Burrow’s pass to Boyd was intercepted by Devin McCourty at the New England 15-yard line.
Interception! @McCourtyTwins (Devin) steals the ball back for the @Patriots
: #CINvsNE on CBS
: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/12iaSiFKaP pic.twitter.com/wJhDmu7h9K
— NFL (@NFL) December 24, 2022
Following the interception, New England hit their biggest offensive play of the day as Kendrick Bourne took an end around for 29 yards. That was all the progress the offense managed, as Jones hit Pierre Strong Jr. on a second-down screen for five yards and then was sacked on third down. New England punted.
Injury Update: DB Brenden Schooler (shoulder) returned to action.
An 11-yard completion to Chase took the clock to the two-minute warning. Following that, Burrow marched down the field hitting Perine and Wilcox underneath for 10 yards each. A facemask penalty then on Myles Bryant added another 15 yards. After a two-yard completion to Boyd and then an incompletion, Burrow again hit Boyd for a nine-yard third-down conversion. Shortly after, Higgins hauled in a 16-yard reception to set Cincinnati up at the four-yard line with 29 seconds left. Following a pair of incompletions, Burrow hit Irwin for his second score of the day with Shaun Wade in coverage. [Patriots 0 : 22 Bengals]
With just eight seconds left in the half, Mac Jones hit Jakobi Meyers on a quick hitter for 11 yards. After a timeout with two seconds left, Jones took a knee to end the half.
Injury Update: TE Hunter Henry (knee) was downgraded to out.
New England started the second-half with a seven-yard gain on a screen to Stevenson. Jones’ next pass fell incompletely to Nelson Agholor, but a defensive pass interference penalty picked up 20 yards for the Patriots. Jones then uncorked one deep downfield to Tyquan Thornton which the rookie receiver dropped. Three plays later the Patriots were forced to punt back to Cincinnati.
After a quiet first half, Joe Mixon bounced one for a 19-yard gain on the Bengals first offensive play in the second half. An eight-yard completion to Chase and three-yard rush by Mixon quickly moved the chains again. Burrow then found Higgins for seven yards to set-up a third-and-one, which the QB kept and was stuffed by New England’s front. After lining up to go for it, Cincinnati took the delay of game penalty and punted back to the Patriots.
Originally posted on Pats Pulpit