Law Firm leads the way: On the Bengals' off day Tuesday, running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis spoke to students at a southwest Ohio middle school. Leadership was the theme of his visit. "A leader is someone you can depend on," said Green-Ellis, the player whose lengthy, official-sounding name long ago earned him the nickname of "The Law Firm." Against his former team Sunday, he was every bit the offensive leader the Bengals needed, and more. A week after one of Cincinnati's worst single-game offensive collapses, Green-Ellis was out to prove that he and his unit weren't as bad as they had showed against the Cleveland Browns. Green-Ellis heard the criticisms about the Bengals' lacking run game and wanted to silence them. Against the Patriots, he rushed 19 times for 67 yards and the game's only touchdown on a 1-yard run on fourth-and-1.
Huber helps again: If there were an Unsung Hero Award to hand out after five games, punter Kevin Huber would receive it. He's been consistent this season, working high punts into places where his coverage team can quickly swallow returners. He's stifled some of the NFL's best punt returners and helped the Bengals hold a potentially explosive Julian Edelman in check Sunday. A case could be made that Huber's performance against the Patriots was his worst of the season, but that shows just how valuable he has been. Called upon six times, he averaged 45.8 yards on his punts. One traveled 57 yards; two, including a pair of first-quarter punts, landed inside the 20. Those helped set the tone for the Patriots' day of poor field position.
Offense getting closer: For some, the most refreshing part of Cincinnati's first half was seeing the offense successfully tinker with its identity on a series of drives. The first four-play drive featured the rushing attack. After going backward on their second drive, the Bengals' third possession showcased their tight end talent. The fourth drive was a mix of passing to the tight ends and running backs, and the fifth finally got the wide receivers involved. Quarterback Andy Dalton also had a few keepers during the game that showcased a little-used area of his game: mobility. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden was encouraged by what he saw but believes that his offense still has improvements to make. "We haven't come close to our standards yet, but brighter days are ahead," he said.
Dominant defense: While Cincinnati's offense rushed for 162 yards and passed for 179, the day's biggest storyline revolved around the 166 passing yards by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and the zero touchdown passes he threw. It was the first time since the second week of the 2009 season that he hadn't thrown a touchdown. It also was the 19th consecutive time the Bengals hadn't allowed a quarterback to pass for more than 300 yards. To say the defense was dominant might be an understatement. The unit, which had four sacks and a crucial late-game interception, was so good that defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer received the game ball.