Third-quarter swing dooms Bengals in loss to Patriots

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Third-quarter swing dooms Bengals in loss to Patriots

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FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 16: Dont’a Hightower #54 of the New England Patriots sacks Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the third quater of the game at Gillette Stadium on October 16, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

New England quarterback Tom Brady’s homecoming party got off to a slow start, but he took advantage of a key Cincinnati Bengals penalty midway through the third quarter to put up 15 points in a span of 4 minutes, 7 seconds to lead the Patriots to a comeback win.

In his first home game since serving a four-game suspension, Brady threw touchdown passes to Rob Gronkowski and James White on back-to-back drives after Dont’a Hightower sacked Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton for a safety as New England rallied for a 35-17 victory at Gillette Stadium.

It was the fourth loss in five games for the Bengals, dropping them to 2-4, while the Patriots improved to 5-1, including 49-1 at home since 2007 with Brady under center.

Cincinnati led 14-10 and appeared to have a first down after Andy Dalton hit A.J. Green for a 15-yard pass on third down, but right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi was called for holding, pushing the Bengals back to their own 8.

Hightower sacked Dalton for a safety to cut the Cincinnati lead to 14-12 with 6:59 left in the quarter, and Ogbuehi was benched after that.

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 16: Dont’a Hightower #54 of the New England Patriots sacks Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the third quater of the game at Gillette Stadium on October 16, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Staff Writer

Brady hit Gronkowski for a 4-yard touchdown 2:05 later to put the Patriots in front. Then after a 16-second three-and-out by the Bengals offense, Brady drove New England 53 yards in four plays, connecting with James White for a 4-yard score that made it 25-14.

It was White’s second touchdown of the game, with the first coming after another key penalty by the Bengals.

Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick was flagged for defensive holding on a third-and-18 incompletion late in the second quarter. Brady used the new life to direct an eight-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 15-yard scoring strike to White with 1:01 left in the half to send the Patriots into halftime with a 10-7 lead.

The Bengals blew a chance to put up more points in the first half when they failed to score on three straight plays from the New England 1, with the Patriots stuffing Giovani Bernard on fourth and goal.

Brady completed 29 of 35 passes for 376 yards and three touchdowns for a 140.0 passer rating.

Gronkowski caught seven passes for a career-high 162 yards.

LaGarrette Blount added a 1-yard touchdown with 57 seconds remaining to cap the scoring.

Dalton connected on 13 of his first 14 passes before finishing 21 of 31 for 254 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a 2-yard score that gave the Bengals a 7-3 lead on the drive after they came up empty on the goal-line stand.

Former Patriots wide receiver Brandon LaFell caught a 5-yard touchdown on the Bengals’ opening drive of the second half to put Cincinnati in front 14-10.

The lead only stood for a few minutes before the Patriots took control with the massive momentum swing.

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