It wasn't until late in the third quarter when Cincinnati's offense began to develop; a struggle that's been hurting the team since Cleveland. A low-scoring contest with the Bengals desperately clinging to a 6-3 lead into the fourth quarter, Cincinnati would eventually claim a two possession, 13-6, lead after snapping a streak of 21 consecutive possessions and seven quarters without an offensive touchdown by consuming 7:48 off the clock on a 93-yard drive.
But it was anything but perfect.
With 1:38 remaining in the third quarter, Dalton was sacked at Cincinnati's two-yard line on second down. Instead of showing signs of defeat with the team's hands on the their collective hips, Dalton leads Marvin Jones on a "go" route to pick up 28 yards and converting the third and 15. Dalton pitched the football to Giovani Bernard on the following play, who split quality blocks and gained another 28 yards as the third quarter concluded.
Eventually the Bengals have third and goal from their own one-yard line with over ten minutes remaining. Would Cincinnati break their streak of touchdown-less possessions? Not initially and in fact, their insufferable levels of adversity would continue when fullback Domata Peko fired out of his three-point stance leading to a false start. Dalton fell one yard short of goalline on a called quarterback draw on third down. Instead of converting a chip-shot field goal, the Bengals went for it and were rewarded when BenJarvus Green-Ellis powered his way into the endzone for the touchdown to take a 13-3 lead.
Going for it on fourth down has to be the play of the game.
Two plays into New England's succeeding drive, the Patriots quickly powered their way downfield when Tom Brady connected with Aaron Dobson on a 56 yard reception to Cincinnati's 17-yard line. A 16-yard Danny Amendola reception later and the Patriots have first and goal from the Bengals one-yard line.
Beautifully, Cincinnati's defense remained true with the toughness that's defining the 2013 season with a no-gain stuff from the one-yard line. Brady overthrew Nate Solder on a corner route, setting up a third and goal with 6:36 remaining in the fourth quarter. Instead of running the football -- usually what these situations dictate -- Brady tried connecting to Julian Edelman but Adam Jones drove the football out of the receiver's hands.
That was the moment of the game with the Bengals defense stoning New England at their own one-yard line on first down. Instead, New England goes for the points and reduces Cincinnati's lead 13-6.
Yet the adversity for Cincinnati's offense would continue; an underlining theme throughout the season.
As the skies opened up and the rain began to resume its scheduled drenching, Giovani Bernard fumbled the football with 3:34 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Mike Zimmer's defense didn't give an inch, doing what they've been doing all season -- shutting down offensive opportunities for the opposing team. Terence Newman deflected a deep pass to Aaron Dobson down the right sidelines at the one-yard line. Chris Crocker disrupted Brady's second down pass and Wallace Gilberry posted his second quarterback sack of the game with 3:12 remaining in the game. Instead of going for it, the Patriots decide to go for field position and punt the football to Cincinnati's nine-yard line.
And it worked for them.
The Bengals dialed up BenJarvus Green-Ellis on three consecutive runs, gaining eight yards and punting the football away after the two minute warning. And it was huge. Kevin Huber smoked a 57-yard punt to New England's 26-yard line, where Julian Edelman returned it nine yards to the Patriots 35-yard line.
Now the gods compress the trigger of C-4 explosives on the biggest rain cloud hovering over Paul Brown Stadium, creating rains that became torrential. And it showed. Patriots running back Brandon Bolden dropped the first down pass and Brady underthrew an attempt to Edelman setting up a third and ten from the Patriots 35-yard line with 1:40 remaining in the game. A six-yard pass to Bolden sets up the game's biggest moment, with fourth and five from the Patriots 41-yard line with under a minute remaining in the game.
Chris Crocker blitzed, but he was called for being offsides as Brady threw an incomplete pass. Patriots get the first down and sustain the drive.
After Edelman dropped a two-yard pass, Brady hands off to Bolden who gains 12 yards to the Bengals 42-yard line with :36 seconds remaining, forcing New England to use their final timeout. Following consecutive incomplete passes, Gilberry is called for roughing the passer after making contact with Brady's helmet.
Depression, sadness, scary moments weeks before Halloween sets in. Now the Patriots have first and ten from Cincinnati's 27-yard line with :26 seconds remaining. Tom Brady takes the snap and throws deep down the left sidelines. The football comes out of Brady's hand poorly, allowing Adam Jones to intercept the football at Cincinnati's one-yard line to seal the win.
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis gave the game ball to Mike Zimmer, who led a defense that snapped Tom Brady's streak of 52 consecutive games with a touchdown pass.
The Bengals are off to Buffalo next week.