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Patriots Finally Put Away Bengals

November 20, 2000|From Associated Press

FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots defeated a 2-8 team. And it wasn't itself.

That was the record New England and Cincinnati each took into Sunday's game, and the Patriots prevailed, 16-13, on Adam Vinatieri's 22-yard field goal with three seconds left. A week earlier, mistakes cost New England a game against another 2-8 team, the Cleveland Browns.

"Before the game, it felt like the Empire State Building was on top of us," Patriot center Damien Woody said, "but now we can finally breathe a little bit."

New England (3-8) has lost three games it led in the fourth quarter. On Sunday, it lost an interception, committed nine penalties and was outgained 365 to 291 yards by the second-worst offense in the NFL.

But the Bengals (2-9) couldn't get past the Patriot 48 in the fourth quarter or stop sore-thumbed Drew Bledsoe on the winning drive.

"That's the way the league is, a lot of closely matched teams," said Scott Mitchell, who made his first start at quarterback since the second game last season. "They just made a couple more plays at the end."

The Bengals lost more than a game.

Left tackle Rod Jones complained of chest pains and shortness of breath late in the fourth quarter, but tests indicated he was not in serious danger. He was to stay overnight at Massachusetts General Hospital.

"He was a little dizzy," Coach Dick LeBeau said. "We're getting expert care."

Left guard Matt O'Dwyer fractured his left ankle, and Mitchell, who played the whole game, said he sprained his knee.

Bledsoe played his second game with a jammed thumb, completing 22 of 36 passes for 258 yards, including completions of 15 and 16 yards to Terry Glenn and 23 and 11 yards to Troy Brown on the winning 81-yard drive.

New England squandered two leads before Neil Rackers' 45-yard field goal gave Cincinnati a 13-10 lead. The Patriots tied it on Vinatieri's 21-yard kick on the first play of the fourth quarter.

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