1. Fullback James Develin was one of the unsung performers in the game, with several crunching blocks. At 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds, he’s not supposed to decisively win the one-on-one matchup against a 6-foot-3, 322-pound defensive tackle like Domata Peko, but he did just that on Shane Vereen's 11-yard run (4:29)
2. I almost give linebacker Jamie Collins a break for his unnecessary roughness penalty on punt returner Brandon Tate because Tate’s fair-catch signal was not decisive and hardly came up over his head. As I understand the rule, “The member of the receiving team must raise one arm a full length above his head and wave it from side to side while kick is in flight.” I didn’t see Tate do that.
3. Rookie defensive lineman Dominique Easley looked like he hurt his right shoulder on the play after his unnecessary roughness penalty, a 7-yard pass to Mohamed Sanu. Easley lunged at tight end Jermaine Gresham, and as he chased the play from behind, he favored his right shoulder and didn’t play again.
4. Strong punt rush by Kyle Arrington (11:47) that almost resulted in a block. We’ll have to brush up on our special-teams technique, but it seemed as if Arrington did the hard part -- getting in position to make the block by knifing by linebacker Jayson DiManche -- but just failed to get both hands outstretched as he approached punter Kevin Huber. Just a hunch, but here’s a guess Arrington was concerned about making contact with Huber and picking up a penalty, and that affected his hand technique to reach out for the block.
5. One more special-teams note: Chandler Jones was moved from the right to the left side on the field-goal protection unit, which might have been a result of limiting his injured right shoulder to an outside speed rush.
6. The Bengals’ overall offensive operation was spotty, as there were multiple times the play clock nearly ran out, such as on the crucial third-and-3 in which Giovani Bernard was limited to a 1-yard gain (5:20). Second-year player Michael Buchanan, playing right defensive end with Jones (right shoulder) limited and Easley (right shoulder) out, held his ground against sliding tackle Andrew Whitworth as a key player in the Patriots forming a wall and getting the stop. When your third-stringer is making plays like that, it’s usually a good sign. Unfortunately, Buchanan was placed on season-ending IR Monday.
8. It looked like a major disconnect with starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer on an incomplete pass with 14:07 remaining. Perhaps it was a result of not hearing the snap count, as Vollmer simply didn’t block anyone as the rusher off his side came in untouched and forced a quick throwaway that was ultimately ruled intentional grounding. Vollmer was replaced later in the quarter by Marcus Cannon.
9. One area that still calls for improvement is quarterback Tom Brady and the deep ball. With 14:13 remaining, it looked like the right read on Brady’s lofted pass down the middle to Julian Edelman, who had a step on cornerback Leon Hall. A free rusher came on a blitz, Brady had to unload and the pass was just a bit inaccurate. Later, at 9:59, perhaps receiver Brandon LaFell lost track of the ball as he stopped running down the left sideline.
10. Danny Amendola's 7-yard catch on third-and-5 with 2:43 remaining has a chance to be a confidence-builder between Amendola and Brady. The Bengals blitzed and Robert Geathers came in untouched off the defensive right side. A situation like that can stress the trust between quarterback and receiver, and Amendola aced it with his well-run route, making it one of the more promising connections the two have had this season -- something on which to build.