Quarterback: While I'm not living in the quit-on-Dalton camp yet, I am renting. Maybe soon the light will click, but right now, he's not playing well and that overall growth after 39 games (two in the postseason), doesn't seem there. That being said, he didn't do anything that would have lost the game to the Patriots on Sunday. His first quarter interception led to a New England punt. His best throw came with 1:10 remaining in the third quarter, leading Marvin Jones on "go" route with a beautiful pass between the cornerback and safety that converted third-and-15 with a 28-yard pass.
Running Back: Cincinnati rushed for a season-high 162 yards against the Patriots, mostly up-the-gut where Vince Wilfork (currently on Injured Reserve) usually patrolled. BenJarvus Green-Ellis lead the team with 67 yards, many of them during obvious rushing situations to kill the clock in the first and second halves respectively. Green-Ellis scored the game's only touchdown. Rookie Giovani Bernard added 62 yards, including a 28-yarder during Cincinnati's lone touchdown drive.
Wide Receiver: A.J. Green was the most targeted receiver for the Bengals, snagging five receptions for 61 yards receiving. Four of Green's receptions led to first downs, including two that converted third-and-five and third-and-three respectively. Marvin Jones added 39 yards (on two catches), including the 28-yarder that converted a third-and-15 from inside Cincinnati's two-yard line. Mohamed Sanu finished with 28 yards. Both caught every pass thrown their way.
Tight End: Five games into the season and the Bengals duo of Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert have yet to score a touchdown, despite combining for 39 receptions for 417 yards receiving. Against the Patriots, both tight ends combined for nine receptions for 77 yards receiving -- five of which led to first downs.
Offensive Line: Pass protection took a hit with Andrew Whitworth, Kyle Cook, Kevin Zeitler, and Andre Smith each responsible for a sacked allowed. Clint Boling, the only starting offensive lineman that didn't allow a sack, was assigned three quarterback hurries; Cook and Zeitler allowed two hurries each. On the other hand, Smith was a dominating run blocker. Zeitler, Cook, and Whitworth each scored positive grades, per PFF.
Defensive Line: We'd easy call the entire defensive line heroes of Cincinnati's win over the Patriots had other positions not done just as well. However, one of our keys against New England was how uncomfortable the Bengals made Tom Brady in the pocket. Geno Atkins (sack, three hurries), Wallace Gilberry (two sacks, two hits, one hurry, forced fumble) and Carlos Dunlap (one hit, two hurries, one forced fumble) led a defensive front that kept Brady shuffling in the pocket all afternoon. Gilberry was tied with a team-leading four stops (which constitutes an offensive failure).
Linebackers: The Bengals played more with six defensive backs than the usual five-DB/two-LB sets, often bringing in Taylor Mays as the second linebacker, sixth DB. Burfict led the team with eight tackles, four stops (tackles that constitute an offensive failure) and added a quarterback sack that should be defined as a coverage sack. Maualuga (33) and James Harrison (13) combined for 46 snaps -- 17 less than Burfict alone. However, Vincent Rey fought through a fullback block, then wrapped LaGarrette Blount on first and goal from the Bengals one-yard line. The possession would end with a New England field goal.
Secondary: A street free-agent two weeks ago, Chris Crocker finished second on the team with seven tackles, adding two tackles-for-loss and two passes defensed. However, his best play might have been Danny Amendola's 16-yard pass that was caught around the two. Had Crocker not placed his hand on the receiver just before rolling into the endzone, Cincinnati's win may have been vastly more complicated. Two plays later, Adam Jones ripped out the football from Julian Edelman on a sure-touchdown. Instead, both plays forced New England to convert the 19-yard field goal, ending the game's scoring at 13-6. Adam Jones sealed the win with an interception inside Cincinnati's five-yard line.
Special Teams: Mike Nugent converted both field goals and Kevin Huber had arguably one of the best plays of the game. Cincinnati is leading 13-6 with two minutes remaining at their own 17-yard line. Huber at the two-yard line, powered a punt through a driving rain storm with good wind that changed the field and forced New England to score a touchdown on a 65-yard drive. Never happened and Adam Jones sealed the win on an interception. However, the return game just sucks.