by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

Last week, the Patriots seemed to excel in all phases of the game using a potent blend of newer players and veterans. This week? Not so much.

Below, a quick rundown of some gut reactions after New England’s 7-6 loss to Cincinnati:

B-E, A-G-G-R-E…: You know the rest. Was that backfield pressure I saw on the home team’s first defensive series, with linebacker Jerod Mayo getting to the QB? Though the Bengals began to move the ball by the end of the first quarter, the Pats held on third down (pass defensed by Darius Butler) and fourth down (sack by Tully Banta-Cain).

Threshed Wheatley: Terrence Wheatley gave consistent cushions to receivers, eventually falling asleep on one during Chris Henry’s TD with 1:55 left in the first half. He also missed a third-down tackle midway through the third quarter.

Truth Or Darius: Butler, meanwhile, made a touchdown-saving tackle on DeDe Dorsey and recovered a muffed punt by Patrick Chung.

Spread Alert: The Patriots’ spread offense on their opening drive saw three different receivers touching the ball (Wes Welker, Greg Lewis, Joey Galloway). They stalled inside the 20 (sigh), with Tom Brady getting pressured like a deep-sea diver (four of eight, 57 yards). Right tackle Nick Kaczur gave up a sack to essentially kill their second drive.

Laurence Marunningback: After Fred Taylor started (seven carries, 26 yards), Laurence Maroney had about as much chance to shine as a rusty penny (three for six). To his credit, he caught a pass and juked a defender for a first down. Hope to see him with the starters at Washington next week. BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran well throughout garbage time until his fumble at the Bengal 11-yard line.

A Loose End: Tight end Alex Smith missed a catchable pass and, more importantly, a blockable blitzer who proceeded to accordion-ize QB Brian Hoyer.

Not Too Special: Second-year man Matthew Slater ran into the returner on a fair catch and bobbled a kickoff. The Patriots got called for an illegal formation that negated a punt nestled inside the 10-yard line. Chung also muffed the punt that Butler recovered. Late in the fourth, Herana-Daze Jones held on a punt return.

Special teams play represented the game overall: it’s best to move on.

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