CINCINNATI (AP) – Rookie quarterback Matt Cassel 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.

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.

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 connected with Kyle Eckel for a 4-yard TD late in the fourth quarter for the final score.

Vinatieri kicked a 48-yard field goal in the second quarter to cap a drive in which Davey completed a pair of 15-yard tosses to Patrick Pass.

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 running back Corey Dillon carried four times for 26 yards.

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 to add a touchdown in the final minute 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 43-yarder.

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 attempts.

On the first play from scrimmage, Palmer was intercepted by Asante Samuel. During the Bengals’ next possession, Palmer handed off to Rudi Johnson six times for 40 yards before Warley’s miss.

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.

AP-ES-08-12-05 2244EDT


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.