Patriots 23, Bills 3: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
ORCHARD PARK – Death, taxes and the Patriots beating the Bills. Some things simply never change.
Buffalo put up a valiant fight, holding their division rivals to just nine points in the first half, but things unraveled the rest of the way as the offense was shut out in the second half and the defense surrendered 191 yards on the ground in a 23-3 loss.
Here’s this week’s round of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly…
Joe Webb – Go ahead and call this one the Joe Webb game. Webb became an active part of the Bills offense early on, as Buffalo flashed back to the early 2000’s by pulling out the Wildcat formation that featured Webb at quarterback. His usage caught New England off guard as he rushed three times for 27 yards, all in the first half, and nearly threw a touchdown to Travaris Cadet late in the second quarter. Too bad, had he completed it they may have added his name to the Wall of Fame at halftime.
First half defense – Aside from the run defense – which we’ll get to – the defense as a whole did its part in the first half. After the offense tossed an interception on the opening drive, the defense answered by holding the Patriots to a field goal on the ensuing possession. A few drives later, they were backed up at their own 13 after being run over by Dion Lewis and forced another Stephen Gostkowski FG. They did it one more time before the half as well. Slamming the door on New England three times in the first half and twice in the red zone kept the Bills within striking distance heading into the second half.
LeSean McCoy – The Bills found plenty of success running the ball against New England, piling up 183 total rushing yards. McCoy was the biggest contributor to that with 93 yards on 15 carries. That’s an impressive 6.2 yards per attempt.
The Bills opening drive – A promising 13-play, 66-yard drive to start the game had Buffalo on the doorstep of the end zone until Tyrod Taylor made one of the worst decisions of his career and threw an interception right at Patriots linebacker Eric Lee. New England would turn the pick into three points. Talk about deflating.
Run defense – After restricting the Chiefs to just 55 yards rushing last week in a win, the Bills gave up 191 yards on the ground to New England along with two rushing scores. 130 of that came in the first half alone.
Injuries – Players were dropping like flies today. Leonard Johnson and Shaq Lawson left with leg injuries in the third quarter. Tyrod Taylor departed as well at the start of the fourth with what could be a serious knee injury. Then late in the fourth Tre’Davious White suffered a head injury after a controversial late hit from Rob Gronkowski. Buffalo’s depth may be tested over the final quarter of the season.
A fade on fourth-and-one – After Taylor left the game with that knee injury at the start of the fourth quarter, Nathan Peterman led the offense on a 13-play, 73-yard drive all the way to the Patriots one-yard line. Trailing 23-3 and needing a score Buffalo stayed aggressive and went for the touchdown on fourth-and-one. Rick Dennison’s go-to play on the attempt was a fade to Zay Jones in the right corner of the end zone, which they had just run two plays prior, to the left. Unsurprisingly, it was broken up and the Bills went from potentially being down two possessions to effectively out of the game in one fell swoop.
Dion Lewis’ nasty stiff arm – On the Patriots’ third drive, running back Dion Lewis ripped off a 44-yard run down the right sideline and absolutely owned Bills safety Jordan Poyer with a stiff arm, sending him flying to the turf. The play helped set up an eventual field goal for New England.
The offense – The Bills managed only three points and were shut out in the second half. On the bright side, they only went three-and-out once, but when you only manage 85 passing yards, convert just five of your 13 third downs and go zero-for-two in the red zone, the result is a lopsided loss. On an individual level, Taylor was just nine-of-18 passing for a meager 65 yards passing and an interception, although he may have been playing injured.
Gronkowski’s late hit – The Rob Gronkowski hate club added a bunch of members today after the Buffalo native’s late hit on Tre’Davious White following the rookie’s interception late in the game. Afterward, the 28-year-old apologized saying he did it out of frustration, but White’s teammates weren’t having it, calling the play dirty and unnecessary. Safety Jordan Poyer said it will be something they remember when the two division rivals meet again later this month.