Belichick, Brady keep comments brief after win

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Belichick, Brady keep comments brief after win

FOXBORO -- This season, beating the Colts is no reason to bang the drum.

Indianapolis, without Peyton Manning, is now 0-12; Bill Belichick's team pulling off a 31-24 win at home isn't impressive. Quarterback Dan Orlovsky -- the backup to the backup's backup -- went 18-20 for 250 yards, one interception and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Indianapolis' 21 points are the most allowed in the final frame of any game by New England's defense.

Hence the tone of the postgame.

Belichick was as curt as you'd hear after a loss. Tom Brady's quotes were less intriguing than Orlovsky's. Neither coach nor quarterback was interested in a discourse.

Like New England's no-huddle, for example. The Patriots looked to be sleepwalking through the first 20 minutes of offense. Brady's first drive was good for a field goal. His second? Zoltan Mesko punted for 51-yards after just three minutes of work.

On the third series, they stopped screwing around.

The Colts got turned around once the Patriots went no-huddle. Brady started hitting Rob Gronkowski; he found Aaron Hernandez; BenJarvus Green-Ellis got short gains, Danny Woodhead short gains. Brady ended up with a 19-play, 67-yard touchdown drive that chewed up 10 minutes and 19 seconds. The difference in the offense -- the efficiency it inspired in New England and the inability of the Colts to keep up -- was tremendous.

If Belichick was pleased, he saved that emotion all for himself.

We use no-huddle every week," Belichick mumbled. "Weve used it every week, and Im sure well keep using it. Theres some advantages to using it, theres some disadvantages to using it. But its part of our offense, so well use it whenever we feel is best.

Thanks for the break-down.

But, really, what is there to say? The Patriots were expected to win and they did -- however ugly. There were some higlights, like Gronkowski nearly setting an NFL record for single-season touchdowns caught by a tight end. His third touchdown of the night, 14th of the season, and record-breaker was ruled a lateral upon review. Instead of his usual spike, Gronkowski hesitated, then held onto the ball. His teammates congratulated him warmly on the sideline as Stephen Gostokowski booted the extra point. The scoring change was announced in the pressbox moments later.

Brady shrugged off the lost milestone.

"That's okay. I'm glad we scored," Brady said. "That was a good play, good blocking. They blocked well for him on that play. That was great."

"It must have been close. I thought it was a forward pass -- I threw it."

It was one of Brady's lengthier soundbites. Was he surly? No. But New England's quarterback had no reason to be thrilled. The Patriots went three-and-out three different times in the fourth quarter shutout. The game came down to an onside kick. While the decision never felt close, even with the Colts charging down the stretch, there are problems surfacing against scrub teams that will loom larger under the harsh lights of the playoffs.

There will be no Victory Monday tomorrow.

And there's no patience to entertain storytime. Peyton Manning? He's not on the clock. Even if he did return this season, there wouldn't be a single meaningful game for him to play in. So if you want to ask him about what it was like to watch this watered-down rivalry tilt from the sidelines, go ahead. Want to ask him about how nice Patriots fans were? How many autographs he signed at Gillette Stadium? Knock yourself out.

You won't get much from Brady.

"Manning's absence doesn't affect me much; I'm an offensive player," he said. "As a defense, they pretty much had the same guys out there that they had last year. They have a great pass rush. I thought we could execute better at times, but I'm glad we won and we have to move on."

It's December; expect nothing less.

Green has big game as Bengals dominate Dolphins 22-7

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Green has big game as Bengals dominate Dolphins 22-7

CINCINNATI -- For most of the game, A.J. Green piled up more yards than the entire Miami Dolphins offense in a virtuoso performance. As an encore, he thrilled the crowd by juggling some Florida citrus.

The Bengals receiver followed his disappointing game with a dominating one - 173 yards and a touchdown - and a Cincinnati defense that was inspired by Vontaze Burfict's return clamped down on the Dolphins for a 22-7 victory Thursday night.

The Bengals (2-2) rebounded from a 29-17 home loss to Denver on Sunday with a solid all-around game against a depleted team.

Green led the way, beating the Dolphins (1-3) on every type of route . He was upset with himself after he dropped a pivotal third-down pass and failed to make an impact against the Broncos.

"I hold myself to a very high standard," said Green, who had 10 catches. "I know what I'm capable of. Last week I didn't perform to that level. I had to refocus on a short week."

During the first three quarters, Green had 166 yards on catches while Miami had 152 total yards. The Bengals' season-long problem of stalling out near the goal line forced them to settle for Mike Nugent's season-high five field goals.

Afterward, Green and Andy Dalton appeared on the postgame show, and the receiver entertained the dozens of Bengals fans who stayed around by smoothly juggling three oranges at the interview desk.

"Any time he was one-on-one, he was able to make the play," Dalton said.

The Dolphins were missing four starting offensive linemen, two linebackers, running back Arian Foster and tight end Jordan Cameron. They had one big play - Ryan Tannehill threw a 74-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills - but couldn't do anything else on offense.

"We've got to get it fixed and quick, and by that I mean Monday," Tannehill said. "We're kind of in a dark spot right now. It's squarely on our shoulders."

The Bengals' defense expected to get a lift from Burfict's return. The volatile linebacker was suspended by the NFL for the first three games because of his illegal hits. He got a loud ovation when he ran onto the field during introductions wearing a baseball cap. Burfict knocked down a pass and had three tackles.

"He's amazing," end Carlos Dunlap said. "Did you see the plays he made? Those aren't plays you can coach. He came off his couch and played great. It's good to have him back."

Mostly, it was Green's show. He caught a 51-yard pass off Dalton's scramble in the first half, and had a 43-yard catch that set up another field goal in the third quarter for a 19-7 lead.

REMEMBERING FERNANDEZ

A large fan banner in the upper deck at Paul Brown Stadium honored Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died with two friends in a boat crash early Sunday near Miami Beach. The banner read: "Jose 16 Heaven's Bright."

STILL CAN'T RUN

The Bengals rushed for 77 yards and only a 2.1-yard average against the second-worst run defense in the league, one missing two starting linebackers.

SLOPPY DOLPHINS

Miami had seven penalties for 68 yards. The most egregious was by Terrence Fede, who pushed Kevin Huber to the ground after he punted in the third quarter. The penalty gave Cincinnati the ball, and the Bengals got a field goal out of it.

INJURIES

Dolphins: LT Branden Albert and C Anthony Steen were inactive with sprained ankles. Also missing were LBs Koa Misi (neck) and Jelani Jenkins (groin). C Mike Pouncey has missed all four games with a hip injury.

Bengals: TE Tyler Eifert was inactive again, contributing to the Bengals' trouble close to the goal line. He's recovering from offseason ankle surgery and returned to practice on a limited basis last week. CB Dre Kirkpatrick was inactive with a hamstring injury suffered Sunday. G Clint Boling sat out most of the fourth quarter with an injured left shoulder.

ANTHEM STATEMENTS

Stills and Dolphins safety Michael Thomas knelt with their hands over their hearts during the anthem.

FANTASY IMPACT

Tannehill was 15 of 25 for 189 yards with a touchdown, an interception, a fumble and five sacks. Dalton was 22 of 31 for 296 yards with a touchdown and a sack.

UP NEXT

The Dolphins begin a stretch of four straight home games against Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and the New York Jets.

The Bengals have a tough two-game stretch, playing Dallas and New England on the road. They're 1-5 in Dallas, dropping their last three. They've dropped their last six at New England, last winning in 1986.