Brady, Gronk shine in blowout victory over Bengals


Tom Brady rebounded from last week's blowout loss, throwing for 292 yards and two touchdowns in the New England Patriots' 43-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday night. Our takeaways:

1. The Patriots' tight end-centric offense is back. Over the last three years, their use of two-tight-end sets had dwindled from 74 percent in 2011 to 49 percent in 2012 and 26 percent in 2013, per Football Outsiders' 2014 Almanac. After watching the wide receivers fail to separate, the game plan called for Rob Gronkowski and Tim Wright to make plays down the field. It helped that Gronk was moving better than he has all season, finally showing pre-injury form while playing increased snaps.

2. It's time for a new Brady narrative. Finally given time to throw by an offensive line that kept him clean, Brady had his best game this year against a Cincinnati defense that gave Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan and Jake Locker their longest afternoons of the season. The Patriots scored 43 points against a defense that allowed 33 combined against its first three opponents. It is possible for a future Hall of Fame quarterback to have a bad outing without being washed up.

3. If the Bengals have a team weakness, it's run defense. They entered the game 32nd in Football Outsiders' DVOA metric against the run and played without weakside linebacker Vontaze Burfict, their best defensive player over the past two years. Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen combined for 203 yards on 36 carries at 5.63 yards per clip.

4. Darrelle Revis was in shadow coverage on A.J. Green. The cornerback clearly won the matchup before a late third-quarter hamstring injury left Logan Ryan on Green for a 17-yard touchdown. Revis returned to the game on the next series.

5. The Pats lost Pro Bowl safety Devin McCourty to a rib injury and first-round defensive tackle Dominique Easley to a shoulder injury. McCourty's range will be missed if he ends up sidelined beyond Week 5.

6. Andy Dalton was the final quarterback to be sacked this season. Defensive tackle Chris Jones finally got to him in the third quarter.

7. The Bengals are now 2-8 in nationally televised games since Dalton took over as the starting quarterback in 2011.

8. The Patriots are 36-4 following a loss since 2003. They have won 32 consecutive regular-season home games versus AFC teams. They remain the favorites in the AFC East.

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