Cincinnati, OHIO (Sports Network) - Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes, two to his new favorite target, Randy Moss, and the New England Patriots downed the Cincinnati Bengals, 34-13, at Paul Brown Stadium.
Brady completed an efficient 25-of-32 passes for 231 yards with one interception for the Patriots (4-0), who continue their best start since winning their first six games of their Super Bowl-winning 2004 season.
Moss ended with nine catches for 102 yards, increasing his TD total to a league-leading seven, as he and Brady got the best of their Pro-Bowl counterparts of Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson on the Bengals.
Palmer ended 21-of-35 passing for 234 yards with a touchdown and two picks for Cincinnati (1-3), which has dropped three straight since winning its season opener. Johnson was held to three catches for 53 yards and became so frustrated he was seen having an animated conversation with Palmer prior to halftime.
"I made the mistake," said Palmer of his confrontation with Johnson. "We're both passionate players and in the heat of things sometime you lose your cool and I lost my cool."
Meanwhile, Moss was on his sideline being the consummate teammate, something that was questioned when the Patriots traded a fourth-round pick to the Raiders for him in the offseason.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh turned out to be Palmer's favorite target, catching 10 passes for 100 yards and one touchdown for the Bengals, who continue their worst start to a season since beginning the 2004 campaign 1-4.
"We have a chance now to regroup and really take a look personally at ourselves and come out of this a better football team," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, whose team heads into a much-needed bye next week. "We're not where we want to be at this point, but we have a lot of football left to play. We've got to see who we're going to fight with and go forward with it. If we make some changes, we make some changes."
Both teams played without its starting running back. New England's Laurence Maroney was a game-time scratch with a groin injury, while Cincinnati's Rudi Johnson was ruled out of the game a few days earlier because of a strained hamstring.
Sammy Morris, filling in for Maroney, ended with 117 yards, totaling 98 yards by halftime, and a touchdown on 21 carries. He fell seven yards shy of eclipsing his career-high 123 yards that he set last season as a member of the Dolphins against the Patriots.
"Sammy is a good player," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. "He does a lot of things well. He can run, he can play in the passing game, play on fourth down. He's been a good player us. He's done a good job."
Kenny Watson, the replacement for Rudi Johnson, ran for only 55 yards, as the Bengals were forced to go to the air after falling behind early.
The Pats got on the board during its first possession, as Stephen Gostkowski booted a 31-yard field goal to cap an 11-play, 66-yard drive.
Then, late in the quarter, Brady gave New England a 10-point lead when he hit Mike Vrabel in the back of the end zone with a one-yard TD pass. The score came with 51 seconds left in the opening stanza and was setup by a a 49-yard run by Morris that brought the ball down to the two-yard-line.
The Bengals finally got going when the offense was able to turn a Brady interception into seven points. After Leon Hall picked off Brady to give Cincinnati the ball at the New England 35, the Bengals needed just five plays to get into the end zone when Palmer connected with Houshmandzadeh on a one- yard TD pass 4:01 into the second quarter.
New England, though, restored its 10-point lead on its ensuing drive. Brady made up for the costly interception by primarily using the legs of Morris to get another touchdown. Morris ran for 38 yards on the 62-yard drive, that was capped with a seven-yard TD pass from Brady to Moss.
The Bengals had a chance to add points before halftime, but Palmer was picked off inside the Patriots' five-yard-line by Asante Samuel with just over a minute to play, leading to an animated conversation with Chad Johnson, the intended target of the pass, on the sideline.
"I threw the ball into where I shouldn't have thrown it and I got on Chad," said Palmer. "I should've taken a check down there and I got on Chad. I shouldn't have gotten on him. It was a mistake."
The Patriots then held the Bengals on the opening possession of the second half and the offense responded by going 81 yards on eight plays with Morris running in from seven yards out on a 4th-and-1 to make it 24-7 with 7:55 left in the third.
"We have to be more consistent," said Lewis. "They (Patriots) make a good play right before halftime and steal the ball on the interception. We then got to come back out in the second half and put some drives together. We began to settle into what they were doing."
The two clubs exchanged field goals with the Bengals' Shayne Graham hitting from 40 yards with 4:10 left in the third and Gostkowski nailing a 36-yarder 1:57 into the fourth.
Graham hit from 48 yards away nearly four minutes later.
Brady and Moss capped the scoring with a 14-yard touchdown connection with 3:18 left to ice the contest, giving the Patriots 30 or more points for a fourth straight week.
Bengals starting linebacker Lemar Marshall left the game with an injured left Achilles' tendon suffered on the second play of the game...Vrabel has seven regular season catches -- all for touchdowns...Moss became the first wide out in NFL history to have 100-yard games in his first four games of a season...The Patriots have won three straight and six of seven against the Bengals.
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