CINCINNATI — Tom Brady couldn’t get into the end zone against a defense that’s developing a reputation for taking down the league’s top quarterbacks.
Aaron Rodgers found out. And so did Brady, running on empty all game long.
The Bengals ended Brady’s streak of 52 consecutive games with a touchdown pass Sunday, sacking him on his first pass attempt and keeping the pressure going.
Defensive tackle Domata Peko even came in on offense and threw a key black that helped BenJarvus Green-Ellis get into the end zone for the game’s only touchdown in a 13-6 victory over the previously undefeated Patriots.
It was so impressive that defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer was handed a rain-drenched game ball in the locker room.
“That’s a great accomplishment,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “I don’t normally give out game balls, but I gave that one to Zimmer. They played well today. They were tight in coverage most of the day. Up front, they got after it.”
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.
“I’m bummed that we lost,” Brady said when asked about his broken streak. “I think that’s all that really matters.”
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.
“We knew we were going to have our hands full, but we were able to get to Brady on the second play,” defensive tackle Domata Peko said. “After that, you could see he was a little shaky. If you hit somebody enough, they’re going to make mistakes.”
Brady had thrown a touchdown pass in 52 straight games, the 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.
“All week long, all you guys were talking about was Tom Brady,” safety Chris Crocker said. “We wanted them to be talking about us.”
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.