Bengals 24

(0-1, 0-1 away)

Patriots 38

(1-0, 1-0 home)

Coverage: CBS

1:00 PM ET, September 12, 2010

Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA 

1 2 3 4 T
CIN 0 3 14 724
NE 10 14 7 738

Top Performers

Passing: C. Palmer (CIN) - 345 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: F. Taylor (NE) - 14 CAR, 71 YDS

Receiving: C. Johnson (CIN) - 12 REC, 159 YDS, 1 TD

Tom Brady throws 2 TDs to Wes Welker as Patriots cruise

Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tom Brady survived a frightening car crash, signed a rich contract and ended his week with what he wants most: a win.

The quarterback who makes headlines on and off the field threw two of his three touchdown passes to Wes Welker, who returned after a speedy recovery from a serious knee injury, and led the New England Patriots to a 38-24 opening win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

"I'm glad it's over," Brady said, "but it was a good week."

It was pretty special for Welker, too. He caught eight passes for 64 yards less than nine months after tearing a knee ligament in the final game last season and less than eight months after surgery. Many doubted he'd be back for the opener, but he and Brady were confident.

"I had pretty much instilled it in my mind that I would be back," Welker said. "I still have a ways to go. ... I have this stupid knee brace I hate. I can't wait to burn it. We're getting there, slowly but surely."

He had the most impact of any receiver, surpassing the Bengals' new much-hyped tandem of Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, who combined for 19 receptions for 212 yards and a touchdown.

Brady and Welker worked out together on the West Coast in the offseason.

"I spent a lot of time with him," Brady said. "I knew in February or March that he was going to be back on the field on opening day."

For a time after Thursday's accident, there was some concern among fans whether Brady would be there. But he quickly called the Patriots after the accident near his home in Boston to say he was OK and would be late for meetings.

"It's a scary thing," Brady said. "Fortunately, I was OK. Hopefully, the people in the other car are recovering quickly."

Later that day, he agreed to a four-year extension worth $72 million. The annual average of $18 million is the highest of any NFL player.

"I'm more excited about the win," Brady said. "Contracts take care of themselves."

On Sunday, the Patriots' dominance was complete as they also scored on defense with Gary Guyton's 59-yard interception return and on special teams on Brandon Tate's 97-yard runback of the second-half kickoff.

"Obviously, you allow a kickoff return for a touchdown and an interception return for a touchdown, that's hard to overcome," Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis said. "It's hard to see through the muck, but there were some positives."

Not many for his defense, though.

"We weren't ourselves today," Bengals cornerback Leon Hall said. "Today was really unacceptable."

Welker led the NFL with 346 receptions the past three years, the last coming on Jan. 3 in the regular-season finale at Houston. He hurt his knee on the play and missed New England's 33-14 first-round playoff loss to Baltimore.

The Ravens led that game 24-0 in Gillette Stadium. On Sunday in the same stadium, the Patriots led the Bengals by the same score.

New England quickly boosted a 24-3 halftime lead to 31-3 on Tate's touchdown.

Cincinnati cut that to 31-17 on Carson Palmer's scoring passes of 1 yard to rookie tight end Jermaine Gresham midway through the third quarter and 28 yards to Ochocinco with 22 seconds remaining in the period.

Then, Brady regained control by leading a 14-play, 81-yard march that was capped by a 1-yard scoring pass to Rob Gronkowski, another rookie tight end. It was his first pro touchdown and, before lining up to block for the extra point, he handed the ball to Brady for safekeeping on the sideline.

Brady completed 25 of 35 passes for 258 yards. Palmer, forced to throw because of the big deficit, finished 34 for 50 for 345 yards and two touchdowns. Ochocinco had 12 catches for 159 yards, and Owens added seven receptions for 53 yards.

"Apologies to Cincy fans," Owens tweeted, "tough loss today, only week 1, we've a long season ahead, all of you be blessed, 1 luv."

Cedric Benson scored on a 1-yard run for Cincinnati with 3:57 left in the game.

While the Patriots' offense was expected to be strong, the young defense was suspect but was very stingy in the first half. The Bengals' first five possessions ended with three punts, a lost fumble and Guyton's touchdown that made it 24-0 with 5:38 left in the half.

On their first offensive play, Palmer threw about 35 yards down the left sideline toward Owens. Rookie cornerback Devin McCourty, a first-round draft pick, stayed with him step for step and broke up the play.

"Devin is a real mature kid," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "He's still got a lot to learn, but he's done a good job for us."

On the Patriots' first offensive play, Welker caught a 5-yard pass over the middle. He ended that drive with a 9-yard touchdown. Stephen Gostkowski's 32-yard field goal made it 10-0, and Welker struck again with a 4-yard scoring catch about 6 minutes into the second quarter.

"I feel like it was just another game," Welker said. "You go out there preparing and, you know, 'This is the big comeback or whatever,' but for me it was just going out there and playing and be out there with my teammates and trying to contribute to a win."

Game notes

Welker has at least six catches in 27 of his last 31 games. ... Brady is 8-1 in season openers. ... Owens became the third receiver in NFL history with 15,000 yards receiving. His seven catches for 53 yards gave him 1,013 receptions for 15,004 yards.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs2620
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays7658
Total Yards428376
Yards per play5.66.5
Total Drives119
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)2-23-5
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs02

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

neTD9:52Wes Welker 9 Yard Pass From Tom Brady (Stephen Gostkowski Kick is Good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 72 yds, 2:51
neFG2:33Stephen Gostkowski 32 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 11 plays, 56 yds, 5:30
neTD9:04Wes Welker 4 Yard Pass From Tom Brady (Stephen Gostkowski Kick is Good)
Drive info: 10 plays, 80 yds, 4:01
neTD5:49Gary Guyton 59 Yard Interception Return (Stephen Gostkowski Kick is Good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 32 yds, 3:20
cinFG1:19Mike Nugent 54 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 12 plays, 37 yds, 4:24
neTD15:00Brandon Tate 97 Yard Kickoff Return (Stephen Gostkowski Kick is Good)
Drive info: 1 plays, 97 yds, 0:00
cinTD7:58Jermaine Gresham 1 Yard Pass From Carson Palmer (Mike Nugent Kick is Good)
Drive info: 12 plays, 80 yds, 6:54
cinTD0:28Chad Ochocinco 28 Yard Pass From Carson Palmer (Mike Nugent Kick is Good)
Drive info: 12 plays, 73 yds, 4:51
neTD7:45Rob Gronkowski 1 Yard Pass From Tom Brady (Stephen Gostkowski Kick is Good)
Drive info: 14 plays, 81 yds, 7:41
cinTD4:00Cedric Benson 1 Yard Run (Mike Nugent Kick is Good)
Drive info: 14 plays, 76 yds, 3:44

Research Notes

Mike Nugent kicked a 54-yard FG, tied for 2nd-longest in Bengals history.
NEXT-LEVEL: The 2009 Bengals' pass defense on the deep third of the field (15 or more yards from the line of scrimmage) ranked in the top five in completion pct (35.2), yards per att (8.6) and passer rating (46.4). Tom Brady looked uncomfortable throwing the deep ball against that defensive unit, and opted for shorter passes.

Tom Brady connected with Wes Welker on nearly 73 percent of his attempts to the diminuitive wideout and targeted him on four of his seven red zone throws (three catches, two TD).

* Wes Welker had just 4 REC TD in 2009 and none in his final 9 games of the season

ESPN Stats & Information