The Best Patriots Games Against the Bengals in History

The New England Patriots have beaten the Cincinnati Bengals in eleven out of their last thirteen matchups since the turn of the century. With an opening matchup between these two taking place in four months, it is only fitting to take a look back at some of their most memorable games that Patriots fans will look back and remember with glee. Not only were those positive victories for the team in those particular seasons but some of them have been remembered as the most defining statements that stabilized their dynasty. Some names that might have been forgotten will be mentioned, certain plays will be remembered, and the settings will be revisited. With that being said, let’s look at five of the most memorable Patriots victories against the Bengals and the moments that came along with them.

The Five Best Patriots-Bengals Games in History

#5: Corey Dillon Gets His Revenge in 2004

Before being traded to the New England Patriots for a second-round pick in 2004, running back Corey Dillon spent the first seven years of his career with the Cincinnati Bengals. Unfortunately, all Dillon got to experience in the “jungle” was just losing and turmoil. In December of 2004, he had a chance to get his revenge. Leading up to that game, both the Patriots and Bengals had a lot to play for when it came to playoff implications. New England might have been in a more relaxing spot at 11-1, but they still needed to clinch its third division title in four years, and everyone knows that a Bill Belichick team was not going to relax this late in the year. On the other hand, Cincinnati was fighting for their playoff life by any means necessary. The Steelers had the best record in football at that time and the Ravens were also on the rise, so the Bengals needed to win out so that they could back into the playoffs.

In the first half, it looked like the Patriots were going to win this game convincingly. Cincinnati fumbled the ball on their opening possession, Carson Palmer threw a pick-six to Asante Samuel on a potential game-tying drive in the second quarter, and New England found themselves up 35-14 with about close to nine minutes remaining in the third. Corey Dillon ended up scoring the touchdown that he knew he wanted since he arrived in Foxborough, but the coolest play of the game had to be Tom Brady managing to complete a pass while sitting down on the turf because of a self-inflicted stumble. However, just because the Patriots were ahead did not mean that the game was over. The Bengals managed to score fourteen unanswered points, seven coming from a fake field goal attempt by Kyle Larson.

Although Brady finished the game with 260 passing yards and a couple of touchdown passes, the offense stalled out, and the defense was starting to break down. Even with an injury to Carson Palmer that forced backup Jon Kitna to play the entire fourth quarter, along with an interception by Troy Brown while playing defensive back, there was no quit in Cincinnati. Fortunately, with 3:55 left in the game, the Patriots forced the Bengals to burn all three of their timeouts and successfully ran out the clock to hold on for a 35-28 victory.

Overall, while the Bengals attempted a near comeback, they made way too many mistakes to win. They turned the ball over three times and committed nine penalties, while the Patriots did not give it up once and were only flagged twice. New England clinched the AFC East, and unfortunately, the Bengals stumbled throughout the rest of the month and were soon eliminated from playoff contention. The Patriots then went on to win their third Super Bowl in four years, cementing themselves as a dynasty.

#4: Gronk Catches His First Touchdown

Heading into the 2010 season, the Patriots had the same expectations as they had since they came back on the map since they became a dynasty, but this year signaled something very different. The older veterans and long-time champions were starting to leave, and a new nucleus was starting to be formed. They drafted defensive back Devin McCourty with their first-round pick, but their best selection was in the second round when they landed tight end Rob Gronkowski out of Arizona. There was a lot of risk given his injury history, but with the right amount of preparation and commitment in the right situation, he had plenty of upside. In their first game of the year, they matched up against the Cincinnati Bengals, who at that point were a consistently strong playoff contender that could just not make it past the first round. Although they had a reliable quarterback, one of the best receivers in the game in Chad Ochocinco, and a strong defense, they just never had the type of team that was going to get over the hump against the better teams in the conference.

New England did not give the Bengals any chances of winning like they did back in 2004, because from the first drive of the game, the Patriots ran away with this one convincingly. Gronkowski was only targeted once in his first professional game, but it was a monumental one in his career. With 7:41 left in the fourth quarter, the Patriots offense decided to go in the air at the one-yard line, with the rookie tight end running a fade route. Gronk easily beat Dhani Jones to the right corner of the end zone and made the catch for his first-ever touchdown in the National Football League. Little did anybody know that he and Tom Brady would be the best quarterback-tight end duo in the history of the sport. Brady finished that game with three touchdown passes and 258 yards, Wes Welker caught two touchdowns, and the Patriots never found themselves trailing.

The Patriots went on to finish with the best record in the NFL at 14-2, Bill Belichick won his second Coach of the Year Award in his career, and Tom Brady became the first unanimous MVP in league history. Gronkowski might not have won the Rookie of the Year that season, but he led all tight ends in touchdowns with ten, while totaling over 540 receiving yards on just forty-two-yard receptions. Cincinnati, on the other hand, went in the opposite direction. They finished with a pathetic 4-12 record, and Carson Palmer not only demanded a trade at the end of the season but threatened to retire if Cincinnati did not grant his wish. He ended up getting traded to the Raiders, and that 2010 season ended up being the final season for Palmer and Chad Ochocinco in orange and black.

#3: Stephon Gilmore Locks up his DPOY Award

2019 might have been Tom Brady’s final season as a New England Patriot, but the biggest positive from that season had to be the emergence of Stephon Gilmore as the best cornerback in the NFL. From the day he signed that five-year deal with the Patriots in 2017, he completely lived up to all of the hype and had more success in Gillette Stadium than he ever did with the Buffalo Bills. His game-sealing interception against the Rams in Super Bowl 53 let the world know who the best player on this defense was, but 2019 was when he showed them that he deserved his flowers. Leading up to their Week 15 matchup against the Bengals, Gilmore had recorded four interceptions and fourteen passes defended. New England had a subpar offense, but they also had the best defense in the National Football League, and it just so happened that they were going up against the worst team on the road to clinch a playoff spot.

It might have been a three-point game heading into halftime, but Gilmore made sure that this game was put away in New England’s favor. It started with an amazing one-armed interception on just the third play of the third quarter, leading to a seven-yard touchdown pass to N’Keal Harry, but the Gilly Lock wrapped it up on the very next drive. As Andy Dalton was looking for Tyler Boyd on an out route to the right, Gilmore read the route like a book and jumped in front of the play for his second interception of the game, taking it all the way for a sixty-four-yard pick-six. Dalton threw two more interceptions to second-year cornerback JC Jackson, and the Patriots easily won the game 34-13. Without Stephon Gilmore being the absolute stud that he was on the defensive side of the ball, New England might have lost and they would have been ridiculed more than they have ever been before. Stephon Gilmore finished that 2019 season with six interceptions, twenty passes defended, two touchdowns, and a Defensive Player of the Year Award as a result.

Ironically, while Brady left the Patriots after the 2019 season, the Bengals won the first overall pick of the draft and used it to select the Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow. Safe to say that things worked out well in the end for Cincinnati and that New England has not been able to bounce back since.

#2: Tom Brady Begins His Revenge Mission

In the 2016 offseason, Tom Brady decided that enough was enough and accepted his four-game suspension from the Deflategate debacle. Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett did enough to give the Patriots a 3-1 start to the season, and Brady came back just in time to throw for over 400 yards in a road victory against the Cleveland Browns. However, the day that everybody circled on their calendar was October 16: the first home game for Tom Brady. The crowd at Gillette Stadium was electric, waiting for their GOAT and face of the franchise to take care of business as usual, but this year was different. Not only was he on a quest to win his fifth Super Bowl, but he wanted to stick it to the league once and for all. Given that this was a Week 6 matchup, both the Patriots and the Bengals were in the same situations that they had been in for over a decade. While one team was on a mission to win a championship, the other just hoped that they could get out of the first round.

The game went as great for the Patriots as anybody could expect. Brady lit up the Bengals’ defense for 376 yards and three touchdown passes, while only throwing six incompletions throughout the entire game. Rob Gronkowski totaled 162 yards on just seven catches, and it was really the first time that the national media got a glimpse of running back James White, who caught two of the three touchdown passes that were thrown. Per usual, the Cincinnati Bengals tried to keep up, but they were just outright outmatched by a vastly superior football team. If this was any other year, it would just be an expected home victory for the Patriots, but it meant something different given the circumstances.

New England once again finished that season with the best record in football and won their fifth Super Bowl championship, while the Bengals stumbled towards a 6-9-1 record, and missed the playoffs. At that point, Cincinnati was no longer an automatic playoff contender, but a team heading into the pits of despair.

#1: Belichick Says “We’re On to Cincinnati”

It is pretty obvious why this game is the top one on the list for every Patriots fan. Heading into a Week 5 Sunday Night Football matchup against the Bengals, every media pundit and outlet announced the dynasty to be dead. Why is that the case? Because one week ago, the Patriots got outright humiliated and destroyed by the Kansas City Chiefs 41-14 on Monday Night Football. They said that Tom Brady was washed up and that this team will never win another championship. Bill Belichick, being the wise genius that he truly was, only needed four words to answer every question thrown at his face: We’re on to Cincinnati.

That game on Monday Night Football was thrown in the trash because there was plenty more football to be played. They had bigger ambitions in mind, the first being to end Cincinnati’s undefeated start to the year. Heading into the 2014 season, the Bengals were still a respected football team that had plenty of talent to make them a playoff contender. Andy Dalton was a respectable starter, Giovani Bernard was an elusive running back, and AJ Green was easily one of the top five receivers in the league. However, the reason why the Bengals lost this Sunday night game was the same as why they hardly got over the hump against the Patriots, which was that New England played with better discipline and focus.

On Monday Night Football against the Chiefs, everything that could have gone wrong for the Patriots went horrible. One week later, it was the exact opposite. Tom Brady threw for over 290 yards and two touchdown passes, Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen combined for 203 yards on the ground, and Gronkowski added another 100+ receiving yard game on his resume. The defense held the “highly potent” Cincinnati offense to just seventeen points and forced two turnovers. To top it all off, the special teams forced a fumble on the kickoff and recovered it for a touchdown of their own. Nobody even remembers that the Patriots were flagged twelve times that game because they were outright demolishing the Bengals in every way, shape, and form. New England made a statement on Sunday night with a resounding 43-17 victory, and they never let their foot off the gas for the rest of the season.

To put this in perspective, they were 2-2 after that Monday night loss to the Chiefs. The Patriots were 10-2 the rest of the way and clinched the best record in the AFC. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick won their fourth Super Bowl together in February of 2015, just four months after the media said that those two needed to break up with each other. As for the Bengals, they still finished with a respectable 10-5-1 season, but were once again bounced out of the first round by the Indianapolis Colts in a blowout 26-10 defeat.


Fast forward to 2024 and both teams are on completely opposite ends of the spectrum. The Bengals are a conference championship contender with a highly potent offense and opportunistic defense, while the Patriots are rebuilding for the first time in almost twenty-five years. On paper, Cincinnati should absolutely demolish them at home when Week 1 arrives, but history always finds a way to impact certain matchups.

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