CINCINNATI (AP) -- Rookie quarterback Matt Cassel outdid his
entire college career in his first NFL game.
He led four scoring drives as the defending champion New England
Patriots beat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-13 Friday night in the
preseason opener for both teams.
"It's the first time I threw a touchdown pass since high
school," Cassel marveled. "Hopefully, I can just do well and earn
a spot on the team. It was definitely good to start off that way."
Cassel never started a college game while backing up Heisman
Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart at Southern
California and now he is battling 42-year-old Doug Flutie for New
England's No. 3 quarterback spot behind Tom Brady and Rohan Davey.
In college, Cassel played in 25 games and was 20-of-33 for 192
yards with one interception. He liked turning the tables on Palmer.
"He's one of my good buddies," Cassel said. "It's kind of
cool that he got to watch me for a change.
"If I wanted to come out and play against anybody, it would be
He took over with 4 minutes left in the first half and led a
14-play, no-huddle drive that ended with a 20-yard touchdown pass
to Jason Anderson.
Cassel started the second half with a 16-play drive that ended
with a 29-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri, then led another with
Vinatieri kicking a 42-yarder. He handed off to Kyle Eckel for a
4-yard TD run late in the fourth quarter for the final score.
Palmer was happy for his college roommate, the Patriots'
"I was fired up for him," Palmer said. "It was hard that he
was doing it for the other team. But it was good to see him get the
chance to show that he can play."
Vinatieri kicked a 48-yard field goal in the second quarter to
cap a drive in which Patrick Pass had six consecutive touches,
gaining 16 yards on runs and 24 yards on passes.
Cassel was 13-of-20 for 135 yards, and Davey was 4-of-7 for 42.
Brady didn't play on the 94-degree night at Paul Brown Stadium.
New England's Bill Belichick said Brady didn't play because the
coach wanted to see other people.
"I thought Matt did some good things," Belichick said. "He
made some decent plays. But overall, I'd like to see us execute
New England running back Corey Dillon carried four times for 26
Casey Bramlet, trying to claim the Bengals' No. 3 quarterback
spot, threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Chris Henry. That toss came
after a pass interference call against New England defensive back
Hank Poteat gave Cincinnati a first down on the 9.
Craig Krenzel, the Bengals' other candidate to back up Palmer
and Jon Kitna, missed three chances in the final 10 seconds to add
a touchdown after a pass interference call against Raymond Ventrone
gave Cincinnati the ball on the 7.
Backup kicker Carter Warley, who was signed this week as a free
agent, hit a 43-yard field goal for Cincinnati but missed a
Shayne Graham, who has been bothered by a sore groin, kicked a
25-yarder for the Bengals.
Palmer played the first three series but was just 4-of-11 for 37
yards. He failed to connect with Chad Johnson on two downfield
Chris Perry, the Bengals' first-round draft pick a year ago,
carried 12 times for 41 yards. He missed all but two games last
year and had offseason surgery to repair a hernia.
Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis said the loss gave the Bengals a
reality check as they try to improve on two successive 8-8 seasons
and make it to the playoffs for the first time since 1990.
"This was very timely," Lewis said. "Now they can quit
hearing how great this is or how good that is. We needed this."