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How Brady, Patriots embraced 'We're on to Cincinnati' mantra

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Rumors of the New England Patriots' demise were greatly exaggerated throughout their 20-year dynasty. That especially was the case in early 2014 following a blowout loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The 41-14 defeat prompted plenty of hot takes about the Patriots' chances of contending for a Super Bowl title. Perhaps the most notable soundbite in the aftermath of the loss came courtesy of ESPN's Trent Dilfer.

"We saw a weak team," he said. "The New England Patriots, let's face it, they're not good anymore."

Unbothered by the outside noise, Bill Belichick had no intentions of dwelling on the Week 4 loss during his press conference two days later. His only focus? Their Week 5 opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals.

The rest is history.

The date

Oct. 5, 2014

The matchup and result

Patriots 43, Bengals 17

The backstory

A 41-14 loss to the Chiefs had many questioning not only the Patriots' chances of competing for a championship, but also whether the team should consider giving then-rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo the starting job over a 37-year-old Tom Brady. It's a wild scenario to think about seven years later, as Brady went on to win three more Super Bowl titles in New England and one in Tampa Bay.

During Bill Belichick's Wednesday press conference that week, the Patriots head coach predictably was asked about the loss, the quarterback situation, and whether he believed his team had enough talent. His response to all of those questions?

 

"We're on to Cincinnati."

"We gotta turn the page," Belichick said in the Patriots' 'Do Your Job' documentary following the 2014 season. "We're not gonna sit there and talk about the Kansas City game for the rest of the season any more than we would talk about any of our big wins for day after day after day. It's 24 hours after the game, you've got to move on."

Thus, the Patriots' mantra for the rest of the 2014 NFL season was born.

The game

The Patriots turned the page from their loss to Kansas City and hosted a 3-0 Bengals team at Gillette Stadium. While Cincinnati was nothing to scoff at that season, another New England defeat undoubtedly would have sparked even more questions about where the franchise stood.

Tom Brady didn't let that happen.

The (then) three-time Super Bowl champion bounced back with 292 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions to rout the Andy Dalton-led Bengals. The Patriots also were unstoppable in the run game as Stevan Ridley rushed 27 times for 113 yards and a TD, and Shane Vereen had nine carries for 90 yards.

Also playing major roles in the victory were tight ends Rob Gronkowski (six catches, 100 yards, TD) and Tim Wright (five catches, 85 yards, TD).

"It's hard to be oblivious to things. We all have TVs or the internet or the questions I get and the emails that I get from people," Brady said after the win. "Nobody died or anything. It's just a loss, and I think we've always done a great job putting losses behind us quickly."

The aftermath

That infamous Dilfer clip remains something for Patriots fans to look back on and laugh at to this day.

Including their win over Cincinnati, the Patriots rattled off 10 wins in 12 games to wrap up the regular season. They finished with a 12-4 record for the third straight year and finished first in the AFC East for the sixth consecutive campaign.

New England hosted the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round, edging out Joe Flacco and Co. 35-31 to advance to their fourth straight AFC Championship Game. There, Brady outdueled Andrew Luck in a 45-7 rout that included a three-touchdown performance from running back LeGarrette Blount.

In Super Bowl XLIX, the Patriots played what ended up being an instant classic vs. the Seattle Seahawks. After falling behind by 10 points in the third quarter, New England stormed back to win 28-24 thanks to a goal-line Malcolm Butler interception that will live on in Patriots lore.

From "On to Cincinnati," to four-time Super Bowl champions.