What it means: The Patriots’ offense was held without a touchdown as the Bengals’ defense -- and missed opportunities by New England -- was the story of the game. The Patriots, who had two drives with a chance to score a game-tying touchdown, fall to 4-1. Parts of the end of the game were played in a driving rainstorm.
Brady’s streak: Quarterback Tom Brady’s streak of 52 straight games with at least one touchdown pass was snapped. The record was 54 straight games, set by Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Had Brady kept the streak alive, he would have had a chance to tie the mark against Brees’ Saints. Brady was intercepted with 16 seconds left to end it on an underthrown pass.
Kelly’s knee injury and defensive tackle concerns: Veteran defensive tackle Tommy Kelly left the game in the second half with a knee injury, returned briefly, then left for good. A potential Kelly absence would be a big blow in the wake of the Patriots losing defensive tackle Vince Wilfork for the season. The Patriots have rookies Joe Vellano and Chris Jones next on the depth chart and also have first-year player Marcus Forston and rookie A.J. Francis on the practice squad.
More on the injury front: Veteran running back Leon Washington left the game in the first half with an ankle injury and did not return. Washington, who had a thigh injury that limited him to just one of the team’s first four games, opened Sunday as the Patriots’ primary kickoff returner.
Stock watch, up: Defense. On a day in which the Patriots’ offense was stymied -- and credit goes to the Bengals’ defense for making life so difficult -- the Patriots’ defense kept the team in the game. Safety Devin McCourty’s forced fumble late in the fourth quarter had the team in position to potentially tie. And then the defense delivered another stop to force a punt.
Stock watch, down: LeGarrette Blount. The running back fumbled in the second quarter, ending a promising drive. With top running back Stevan Ridley out with a thigh injury, this was Blount’s time to assume a lead role. The fumble hurt.
Managing Amendola: Receiver Danny Amendola played for the first time since injuring his groin in the Sept. 8 season opener. Including penalties, he was on the field for 38 of 64 snaps (unofficially), which reflects how he was managed in his return.
What’s next: The Patriots return home to face the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.