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(Sunday, September 12th)
Final Score: New England 38, Cincinnati 24
Foxboro, MA (Sports Network) - Tom Brady threw for three touchdowns as New England dispatched Cincinnati, 38-24, in the season-opener for both clubs from Gillette Stadium.
Brady, fresh from agreeing on Thursday to a four-year contract extension reportedly worth $72 million, was an efficient 25-of-35 for 258 yards for the Patriots (1-0), who are coming off a 10-6 season and first-round playoff loss in 2009.
Coming off a season-ending torn ACL, Wes Welker struck for eight catches for 64 yards and two-first half scores. Randy Moss added five receptions for 59 yards and Fred Taylor gained 71 yards on 14 carries.
"Well that was a good start for us today, I'm really proud of the team. They all came out ready to go, made plays in all three phases of the game," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. "We made plays when we needed to make them, but there are certainly things we need to work on. Now we're going to New York and there's a challenge."
Carson Palmer went 34-of-50 for 345 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for the Bengals (0-1), who also finished 10-6 and made a postseason appearance last season.
Chad Ochocinco led all receivers with 12 catches for 159 yards and a score. Terrell Owens made his Cincinnati regular-season debut by hauling in seven balls for 53 yards, while Cedric Benson totaled 43 yards and a rushing TD on 15 attempts.
After a dominating first 30 minutes from the home team, Brandon Tate opened the second half with his first career touchdown, a 97-yard kickoff return for a 31-3 game, then Cincinnati's offense awoke and drove 80 yards in 12 plays, ending in a one-yard TD from Palmer to Jermaine Gresham.
Ochocinco's 28-yard touchdown reception with 22 seconds to play in the third was the clincher on a 12-play, 73-yard march which got the visitors within 31-17. His catch tied him with Carl Pickens for the franchise record in TD receptions with 63.
However, the Patriots responded with another scoring drive, a 14-play jaunt, culminating in Brady's one-yard TD pass to Rob Gronkowski with 7:41 left in the contest.
Benson's one-yard plunge with 3:57 to go drew the visitors within 38-24, but the Pats melted more than two minutes off the clock and encroached deep into Bengals territory before a turnover on downs. Five plays later the clock ran out on Cincinnati.
"It was not, from our standpoint, a well-played game. We had to make some third downs on offense and make some stops on third down defensively and we didn't do that," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. "We didn't do much on offense in the first half, we gave up that kick return to start the second half and there's the ballgame."
New England got on the board on its first drive of the contest as Welker took a swing pass nine yards down the left sideline for a score. Aaron Hernandez sent the Pats deep into Bengals territory with a snaking 45-yard reception two plays prior.
Stephen Gostkowski hit a 32-yarder to cap the Patriots' following drive, then Benson fumbled at the Cincy 38 on the next series. The Pats recovered at the 28 but couldn't advance the ball and Gostkowski pulled a 47-yarder wide left.
Welker added his second TD catch of the game with 8:58 to play in the second quarter. It capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive and was upheld by replay, which determined the ball crossed the goal line before he was pushed away by a pair of defenders.
Cincinnati didn't manage to get across midfield until their following series, but on a 1st-and-10 from the New England 48, Palmer was picked off by Gary Guyton, who raced 59 yards for a 24-0 game.
The Bengals hit the scoreboard when Mike Nugent was good from 54 yards out with 1:14 to play in the period. New England kept pushing the offense on its final chance of the first half, but Gostkowski barely missed a 56-yard try with one second left.
New England has won the last four meetings and seven of the last eight overall, and holds a 14-8 lead in the all-time series...The Bengals gained 26 first downs to 20 for the Patriots, and also outgained the hosts 428-376...The Pats had to do without the services of wideout Jordan Edelman and running back Laurence Maroney, while the Bengals missed wideout Andre Caldwell...The last time New England scored on each of its first two drives in a season opener came in 2005 against Oakland...Tate's TD return on a kickoff was the longest for the Patriots since Ellis Hobbs ran back the second-half kick 108 yards in Week 1 against the Jets in 2007...Ochocinco moved over the 10,000-yard receiving mark with a catch in the third quarter...Cincinnati defensive end Jonathan Fanene left the game in the second quarter with a right hamstring injury, and linebacker Keith Rivers sustained a left foot injury late in the third...Both teams play next Sunday as New England takes on the Jets at the Meadowlands and Cincinnati hosts Baltimore.
09/12 19:16:04 ET