CINCINNATI – Tom Brady’s touchdown streak was done.
So was New England’s perfect start.
After figuring out ways to get by with a depleted roster for the first four weeks of the season, the Patriots ran into a defense that’s gotten a reputation for taking down the best. And Brady had no solutions this time.
The Bengals ended Brady’s streak of 52 consecutive games with a touchdown pass on Sunday, sacking him on his first pass attempt and keeping the pressure going in a 13-6 victory over previously unbeaten New England.
“It was just a poor performance all around,” Brady said.
Not just poor: One of their worst in years.
Geno Atkins sacked Brady on his first pass attempt, and the Bengals (3-2) dropped him four times overall.
And that wasn’t all: New England (4-1) failed to get into the end zone after a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter.
One yard too much for New England? Stunning.
“We had too many silly execution errors and mental mistakes today,” Brady said. “It is hard to drive the ball down the field if you keep making those mistakes.”
A driving rain moved in just before New England’s final chance. After a couple of dropped passes, Brady threw one toward the goal line and Adam “Pacman” Jones made a juggling interception inside the Cincinnati 5-yard line.
Some finish, one that didn’t go down very well with a team accustomed to pulling them out at the end.
“You can look around the locker room and tell,” receiver Aaron Dobson said. “It’s upsetting.”
Brady had thrown a touchdown pass in 52 straight games, second-longest streak in NFL history behind Drew Brees’ 54-game streak.
The Patriots were held out of the end zone for the first time since a 16-9 loss to the Jets on Sept. 20, 2009.
“I’m bummed that we lost,” Brady said of his broken streak. “I think that’s all that really matters.”
The Patriots couldn’t get into the end zone against a defense that’s becoming known for taking down the league’s top quarterbacks.
Two weeks earlier at Paul Brown Stadium, the Bengals’ defense stymied Aaron Rodgers in a 34-30 win over Green Bay, overcoming four turnovers by Cincinnati’s offense that gave the Packers good field position.
Brady never got into a rhythm against Cincinnati’s unrelenting pass rush. He finished 18 of 38 for 197 yards with one interception and a paltry passer rating of 52.2. It didn’t help that a storm moved in just before the start of New England’s final drive.
Cincinnati’s defense even had a hand — well, a shoulder — in the winning touchdown.
The Bengals had failed to score a touchdown during a 17-6 loss at Cleveland, one that left them looking to establish an identity on offense by running the ball. They did what they wanted in one grinding drive.
Cincinnati went 93 yards in 14 plays for its touchdown, holding the ball for 7 minutes, 48 seconds. Defensive tackle Domata Peko came in as a blocking fullback on third-and-goal from inside the 1-yard line but took off too soon, a false start.
Andy Dalton scrambled to the 1 on a quarterback keeper, and Peko came in and plowed the way for former Patriot BenJarvus Green-Ellis to score on fourth down.
Dalton was 20 of 27 for 212 yards with four sacks and one costly interception. He scrambled away from pressure and threw back across the field in the first quarter, getting intercepted by Brandon Spikes at the 8-yard line.
It was the first time during his three-year career that Dalton threw an interception on a play that started inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
Given how the defense was playing, the one touchdown drive was good enough.
“They’re playing unbelievable,” Dalton said.
NOTES: Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski was inactive for the fifth time. He’s recovering from a forearm injury and back surgery. … Brady had been 4-0 against the Bengals with a 114 passer rating. … WR Austin Collie, signed on Thursday, also was inactive. … DL Tommy Kelly hurt his right knee in the fourth quarter but walked off the field.