Cincinnati won the coin toss, deferred to the New England Patriots, who set the game's tone and momentum -- both of which would quickly seal Cincinnati's eventual doom.
Once Tom Brady and the Patriots offense came onto the field, you knew Cincinnati was in trouble when New England generated 66 yards on four plays -- including a 30-yarder to Tim Wright and a game-opening 20-yarder to Brandon LaFell. Eventually the Patriots hit the red zone and ran the football on six consecutive attempts, picking up a snoozing 14 yards but scoring the game's opening touchdown.
All the while Cincinnati was stuck in nickel package against the Patriots up-beat tempo.
"They got us when we were in our nickel front," Peko said via Bengals.com. "They kind of got us off kilter in the beginning of the game. (Quarterback Tom Brady) was on the ball. We didn't have our calls in. We were looking at the sidelines trying to get our calls and he was on the ball before we were even ready. That was crucial. The tempo, and we missed some tackles."
According to Pro Football Focus, the defense missed ten tackles, including three by Leon Hall. Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins, Wallace Gilberry, Emmanuel Lamur, Terence Newman, Reggie Nelson and Adam Jones each recorded a missed tackle.
Lamur, who had the mic in his helmet as the team's de facto play-caller with Vontaze Burfict sidelined, thinks that Cincinnati's defensive issues were more about alignment.
"We knew they were coming out no huddle, that they would come out fast," Lamur said. "It wasn't because we didn't know what was coming. We were misaligned. It was the little things. We’ll get them fixed."