Game Recap: Patriots vs. Bills

Truth be told, this Week 3 game vs. Buffalo was far more notable than it should have been.  Thanks to a Brandon Tate fumble and a huge special teams gaffe, the Patriots allowed the Bills to score 14 more points than they probably should have.  I’ve heard a lot of talk about how the Patriots defense looked really shaky (and they by no means looked stellar), but take away points of turnovers and a kickoff return that went for seven, and the defense only bent for 16 points, allowing three field goals and a single touchdown.  Yes, that’s still double the points per game that Buffalo had been averaging heading into contest, but I’d say that’s hardly the doom cloud that most people see hovering over the Pats’ D at the moment.
Let’s start with the good…
1. Tom Brady – Tom looked back to form, shaking off his not-so-hot performance in New York with a stellar three touchdown, zero interception day.  Brady certainly seemed focused and fired up, especially on a rare scramble that lead to a first down and a fist pump.  Tom, perhaps, looked most impressive on the last drive of the fist half.  The Patriots had just surrendered the lead 16-14 on a Buffalo field goal.  With only seconds left, Brady orchestrated a tremendous drive, taking the team 42 yards to set up the go-ahead kick as time expired.
Brady also seemed to be “forcing” his throws a lot less.  Instead of the concentration on Moss that seemed to stagnate things against the Jets, Brady was able to mix it up and show the balanced attack that defined the Patriots during their Super Bowl runs.  Moss still got plenty of action though, piling up two nice touchdown catches to propel him to 151 for his career, trailing only the legendary Jerry Rice.
2. Ben Jarvis Green Ellis / Danny Woodhead – There was a lot of talk heading into this game about how the Patriots would respond to the loss of Kevin Faulk.  While Faulk is certainly one of a kind, ex-Jet Danny Woodhead showed himself to be a quicky and shifty weapon out of the backfield.  Belichick has accumulated quite the stable of “tough to tackle” guys in Welker, Edelman, Hernandez, and, now, Woodhead.  In other news, the Law Firm may have established himself as the team’s go-to back.  With Fred Taylor sidelined with a toe injury, BJGE carved up the Buffalo defense and helped cement the win by sustaining long clock-kiling drives in the 4th.
3. Tight End Play – Aaron Hernandez and Big Rob Gronk tallied up 9 of the Patriots 21 receptions on the day.  Hernandez lead all players with 6 catches for 65 yards, and Gronkowski proved yet again to be a big end zone threat, hauling in a TD catch.

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And now the iffy…
1. Safeties – It’s hard to hate too much on the safeties when Chung snagged and interception in the end zone and Merriwether iced the game with an INT as well.  However, the only reason that Merriweather needed to make that catch is because he blew his coverage on the Bills’ preceding drive, leading to a touchdown. There was a lot of talk this week about Merriwather getting benched for too much “freelancing”.  Perhaps his coverage on that touchdown play was scripted, but if so, it was extremely ill-crafted.  Merriweather was so grossly out of position, that I’d almost have to assume he had made that one up on his own as well.
And the bad…
1. Special Teams – Zoltan Mesko’s punting was certainly lacking yesterday, but even more horrendous was the Patriots’ lapse on CJ Spiller’s kickoff return for a TD.  There was probably a non-called block in the back that aided the play, but two Patriots defenders clearly had the opportunity to tackle Spiller and instead, just bounced off him.  When somebody jukes and jives their way to a return TD, you just have to tip your hat.  When you make plenty of contact and don’t finish the deal, then the blame goes to the coverage.  The Patriots were fortunate that this occurred against Buffalo, because if any thing like this happened against a decent team, it could have been a death knell.
2. The Corners – McCourty is holding his own pretty well for a starting rookie, so I don’t want to get down oh him too much.  Darius Butler found himself replaced by Kyle Arrington in the starting lineup after his debacle of a game last week.  When Butler was in against Buffalo, he did little to re-instill confidence.  Overall, the Patriots defense mostly bent and didn’t break very often, but the yardage that Fitzpatrick was able to accumulate was a little concerning.  The Patriots secondary definitely has room for improvement and time to make those adjustments, but they can’t continue at this level if New England is going to content.  I shudder to think what a player like Peyton Manning would have done to this team yesterday.
3. The Dead Human Buffalo Baby – While searching for pictures of wounded buffaloes for today’s post, I came across this little gem…
I found it to be a little more gruesome than the Patriots’ CB play yesterday, and only slightly less grotesque than any sideline shot of Rex Ryan last night.  Here’s the link
Derek Hanson

About Derek Hanson

Doctor by day, blogger by night, Derek Hanson is the founder of the Bloguin Network and has been a Patriots fan for more than 20 years.