The Patriots ran over the Bills on Sunday, leaving Orchard Park with a 23-3 win. This victory was the eight straight win for New England, and moves them up to first place in the AFC (for now), with an 10-2 record.
Here are a few takeaways from yesterday’s game.
1. Rex and D-Lew lead the way!
The Patriots won in an unexpected fashion yesterday, with Tom Brady and his receivers not being the main factor in the offense. Rather, it was the Pats’ rushing attack, spearheaded by Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead, who revitalized the anemic offense, and also helped to put away Buffalo. Lewis totaled 92 yards off 15 carries, while Burkhead had 12 carries for 78 yards and two touchdowns. Lewis and Burkhead continue to improve week by week, ensuring that the two dynamos will be the featured rushers for the rest of the season.
2. Have yourself a game, Gronk!
Rob Gronkowski was the standout pass-catcher for the Patriots, as he corralled 9 catches for 147 yards in yet another domination of his hometown Buffalo Bills. On a day when the Patriots’ dynamic offense appeared to be stifled by the stingy Bills, Gronk and TB12 took over in the second half, connecting on several throws that extended long drives.
Unfortunately, Gronk’s monster game has been overshadowed by a reckless decision he made in the waning moments of the game. Late in the fourth quarter, Brady dropped back to loft a ball to #87, but it was intercepted by Tre’Davious White, who appeared to have interfered with Gronk on the play. While White laid motionless on the field, Gronk lunged at him, with his elbow connecting with the back of White’s head. This is definitely out of character for the big tight end, and it is quite disappointing to see, as he let his team down, and also threatened the livelihood of a fellow player. Gronk did apologize to White, and attributed his actions to frustration, but will likely receive a hefty fine from the NFL, along with a possible suspension.
3. Who’s that Eric Lee guy?
The Patriots’ defense was aided by a dominant linebacker who was involved in several key plays. No, I’m not talking about Kyle Van Noy, or Elandon Roberts, I’m talking about Eric Lee. Sunday’s hero was signed off the Bills’ practice squad 10 days ago, and singlehandedly impacted many of Buffalo’s drives. For instance, on the first drive, Buffalo easily drove down the field, and found themselves in the red zone. Lee ended their drive when he picked off an errant pass by Tyrod Taylor. Lee finished the game with four tackles, 1.5 sacks, one tackle for loss, two pass deflections, three quarterback hits and an interception. As Tony Romo hilariously stated during the CBS broadcast, Lee has to be the most efficient player in the NFL so far this year.
4. The Pats’ defense continues to thrive
The Patriots continued their defensive dominance yesterday, as they limited Buffalo to 3 points, and 85 passing yards (for two quarterbacks). They also had four sacks, nine quarterback hits and eight pass deflections. Similarly to the last few weeks, the Patriots played a bend-but-don’t-break form of defense, as they allowed Buffalo to drive at times, but were able to stop them when necessary. As mentioned earlier, Eric Lee was one of the most dominant Patriot defenders, but another key contributor was Stephon Gilmore, who had a great performance against his former team. Gilmore was mostly able to shut down the receivers he covered in the beginning of the game, and had several key plays late in the fourth quarter. He had 3 pass deflections during one of Buffalo’s last drives, preventing the Bills from putting any points on the board.