Maroney, Dillon run over the BengalsOct 1, 2006 - 11:33 PM CINCINNATI (Ticker) -- Rookie Laurence Maroney and Corey Dillon provided a 1-2 punch that floored the Cincinnati Bengals.
Maroney rushed for 125 yards and two touchdowns and Dillon hurt his former team with 67 yards and a score as the New England Patriots rolled to a 38-13 victory over the Bengals.
The game matched Pro Bowl quarterbacks Tom Brady and Carson Palmer, but it was the Patriots' running attack that knocked the Bengals (3-1) from the ranks of the unbeaten.
The Patriots (3-1) rushed for 236 yards, their most in a game since December 26, 1993 when the team compiled 257 yards in a 38-0 rout of Indianapolis. This was the first 200-yard rushing game under coach Bill Belichick since a 225-yard performance against Cleveland on December 5, 2004.
Maroney, a first-round pick out of Minnesota, produced his season-high total on just 15 carries. He scored on runs of 11 and 25 yards.
"We knew coming in that the running game was going to play a big part," Maroney said.
What he didn't know is that he exceeded 100 yards for the first time.
"I had 100 yards? I didn't know that," Maroney said. "It's definitely not easy."
Dillon, the Bengals' all-time leading rusher, played his first game here since being acquired by New England in 2004. In his first season with the Patriots, Dillon rushed for a franchise-record 1,635 yards and helped them win a third Super Bowl title. He faced the Bengals for the first time that season, rushing for 88 yards and a touchdown in a 35-28 victory at Foxboro.
This time, Dillon didn't quite match that total, but had the pleasure of rushing for a one-yard touchdown with 11:15 left in the fourth quarter to increase the lead to 31-13. He celebrated by throwing the ball into the stands as the crowd booed and was penalized 15 yards for excessive celebration.
But Dillon did not have time for the media after the game.
"Nothing's changed, you kidding me. I have things to do," Dillon said as he walked away from reporters.
"You could see that he (Dillon) had a little extra energy coming back here," Belichick said.
Brady passed for 188 yards and two touchdowns. He hit Doug Gabriel with a 25-yard scoring pass in the second quarter and connected with tight end Daniel Graham on a three-yard touchdown with 7:55 left in the fourth quarter to complete the rout.
"The running game was the key," said Brady, who completed 15-of-26 passes. "We kept the clock moving and our defense played great. We are far from where we need to be but we came on the road and beat a team that won its division last year and was 3-0. That builds confidence."
The Patriots harrassed Palmer, sacking him four times and forcing two fumbles which led to touchdowns. Three of the sacks were by defensive end Jarvis Green, who also forced a fumble and recovered one.
"I just need to hold on to the ball. There's no way to sugarcoat it," said Palmer, who was 20-of-35 for 245 yards. "We felt like we could play with these guys. We obviously didn't come out and play our best football."
T.J. Houshmandzadeh caught four passes for 95 yards and Chad Johnson had six receptions for 64 yards. But both were kept out of the end zone and the Bengals played without third receiver Chris Henry, who was put on the inactive list by Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. Earlier in the week, Henry was in the car when suspended Bengals linebacker Odell Thurman was arrested for DUI.
Last week, Houshmandzadeh and Henry each caught two touchdown passes in a win at Pittsburgh. But even in that game, the Bengals yielded 170 rushing yards.
"We have to tackle," Lewis said. "That's what it comes down to. You guys think its magic and I keep telling you it's tackling. One day everyone will understand. Today, we got smacked around pretty good."
Perhaps the play that summarized Cincinnati's inability to tackle came on Maroney's 25-yard touchdown run with 4:27 left in the third quarter. The second running back selected in the draft after Reggie Bush, Maroney ran up the middle, darted left past three tacklers and then stiff-armed safety Madieu Williams at the 10 before racing into the end zone.
The touchdown capped a five-play, 75-yard drive and increased New England's lead to 21-13. It also came just 2:36 after Rudi Johnson scored on a two-yard run for the Bengals.
"That was a good drive because they had momentum," Belichick said. "Maroney capped it off with a great run. He's a playmaker. He's becoming a complete player."
Rookie Stephen Gostkowski, who earlier missed a 48-yard field goal, kicked a 24-yarder 15 seconds into the fourth quarter to increase the lead to 24-13.
Green and defensive end Ty Warren then forced fumbles by Palmer to set up Dillon's one-yard touchdown run and Brady's three-yard scoring pass to Graham.
Shayne Graham kicked field goals of 40 and 45 yards in the first quarter for Cincinnati, which outgained the Patriots, 117-49, in the first quarter.
But New England put together an eight-play, 83-yard drive which Maroney capped with an 11-yard touchdown run with 8:38 left in the second quarter.
Brady's 25-yard scoring pass to Gabriel, who was acquired from Oakland in the preseason, with 1:54 remaining in the second quarter increased the Patriots' lead to 14-6 at halftime.
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