FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Perhaps the biggest question entering the Patriots' season opener was whether the defense could create enough resistance. Mission accomplished.
So how did they do it?
Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer shared insight into the Patriots' plan from his perspective.
"They did a good job with some things trying to confuse us with a lot of moving around and changing the pre-snap looks and post-snap look," Palmer said, echoing remarks made by ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi earlier in the week. "They changed up series a number of times on us and did a job disguising things and moving big guys around, creating mismatches and pass rushes. That's why they've been good on defense for a long time."
With the Bengals opening the game in a three-receiver set with Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens and Jordan Shipley, the Patriots countered with a nickel package that had four big defensive linemen on the field, two linebackers, three cornerbacks and two safeties. That package gave the Patriots a stout presence at the line of scrimmage against the run, but also more speed on the back end against the pass.
The Patriots also ran a base 3-4 alignment and a dime package (six defensive backs) that featured more pure pass rushers up front. Because they opened an early lead, they spent a good portion of the game with extra defensive backs on the field.
Palmer was asked if he could think of anyone better at coming up with a defensive game plan than Bill Belichick.
"I haven't played against anybody better at it," he responded. "He's won a bunch of Super Bowls for a reason. He is very good at game planning and changing game planning, at adjusting midgame."
Credit, of course, also goes to the players for carrying out that plan.
Safety Patrick Chung led the team with 16 tackles. Inside linebacker Jerod Mayo, who hardly left the field, was next with 12.