|Notes and Observations Week 16: Patriots Escape from New York with 17-16 Win; Clinch First Round Bye.||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Win By Less Than a FOOT||Panic Mode in Full Effect, Minutemen are Struggling||Patriots Survive Gritty Challenge From Jets|
The Patriots rallied from a 21-7 deficit in Buffalo to defeat their AFC East rival by a final score of 52-28. The game started off well as the Patriots’ defense was able to force a punt on Buffalo’s first drive. The punt pinned the Patriots at their own 10 yard line, but that didn’t phase the offense one bit.
The third play of the drive saw Tom Brady bomb the ball 41 yards to Rob Gronkowski which set up the offense at the 26 yard line of the Bills. Four plays later Stevan Ridley was able to run the final six yards to put the Patriots on top 7-0. The early success of the offense did not linger as they stalled the rest of the half while the Bills tried to push the losing streak to three games.
A rare fumble by Gronkowski set the Bills up in tremendous field position, which they did not wait to capitalize on. The very first play of the drive Ryan Fitzpatrick threw it up to Scott Chandler who caught the ball right over Patrick Chung. The Bills notched the extra point to tie the game at 7-7.A Stephen Gostkowski missed field goal, his second of the day, set the Bills next scoring drive up. The Bills utilized the no huddle offense on their drive after the missed field goal. They marched from their 32 to the end zone. The drive ended with another touchdown pass to Scott Chandler, putting the Bills on top 14-7.
Another rare fumble, this time by Wes Welker, ended the Patriots’ drive early, and gave the Bills great field position again. On a first an goal from the seven yard line C.J. Spiller ran up the middle looking for the end zone but all he found was Brandon Spikes and Kyle Love. During the struggle the ball came out and Vince Wilfork fell on it, stopping the Bills from going up 21-7 before the half. The fumble recovery by Wilfork was possibly the biggest play of the game as it stopped the Bills momentum and gave the Patriots a chance to come back.
The first drive of the half wasn’t impressive as they stalled once again and were forced to punt. The Bills took advantage and scored yet again on a 68 yard catch and run from Fitzpatrick to Donald Jones.
After the Bills went up 21-7, the offense of the Patriots finally woke up. On the next drive Brady with the help of some impressive running from Brandon Bolden and Stevan Ridley, led the offense on a much needed scoring drive. On a 3rd and 9 at the Buffalo 17 yard line, Brady scrambled out of the pocket to avoid the rush. Danny Woodhead saw the scramble and went off his route to help Brady. The result was a 17 yard touchdown to get back in the game.
The defense did more than their share of work this game as they once again forced a punt and got the ball back in Brady’s hands. The offense led another well balanced drive using short passes and the running game and marched down the field with ease. The drive ended with a Tom Brady four yard rush into the end zone. Gostkowski hit the extra point to tie the score at 21-21.
After another Buffalo punt the Patriots’ offense continued to roll. The emergence of the running game set up the next touchdown. Brady ran a play action to Bolden which drew the attention of what seemed to be the whole defense. Gronkowski was able to run right down the middle of the field and caught the touchdown pass from Brady, putting the Patriots up 28-21.
On the next offensive drive for the Patriots the running backs continued to run right over the Bills’ defense. Bolden and Ridley had runs of 14 and 13 yards respectively. Ridley then capped off the drive with his second rushing touchdown of the game. On their next offensive drive Bolden had his chance for a touchdown and he cashed in. Bolden ran off the left tackle for a seven yard score, giving the Patriots the 42-21 lead.
The Bills scored one more touchdown as the Patriots defense played it’s relaxed “protect the lead” defense. Fitzpatrick hit Brad Smith for a 35 yard score.
All game Brady was trying to get Brandon Lloyd involved with the offense but Bills’ cornerback Stephon Gilmore neutralized him. Finally in the fourth Brady found Lloyd in the end zone for a 25 yard touchdown pass. Lloyd showed everyone how athletic he is as he laid out and made a spectacular diving catch to reel in the ball. Stephen Gostkowski added one field goal to give the Patriots the final score of 52-28.
Notes and Observations from Week 4
- I said it in my review of the Ravens game that this defense has been impressive this season. Yesterday they forced five turnovers, four of them were interceptions. You can argue that Vince Wilfork won the game for the Patriots with the fumble recovery at the end of the first half, or when he drew double and triple teams from the offensive line all game. McCourty had two interceptions, and his second was phenomenal. He recognized an under-thrown ball and was able to stop and come back to it for the pick. They are playing aggressive football, making big hits, and consistently giving the team a chance to win games. It’s early but I love what I’ve seen so far.
- The running game this season is showing some serious signs of life. Bolden and Ridley both ran over 100 yards against the Bills, and had a combined three touchdowns between them. The strong running game was directly responsible for the Gronkowski touchdown because the defense bit hard on the play action to Bolden. The offense is at its best when it has a balance. Brady can’t throw the ball 50 times and expect to win. Brady is at his best when he is able to utilize the play action and when he has a steady running game he can trust.
- Can the conspiracy theories about Wes Welker and Belichick come to an end now? He had over 100 yards receiving yesterday and 9 catches. Safe to say Belichick isn’t phasing him out.
- Gostkowski seems to be in a bit of a funk as he missed two field goals he usually makes. He started last season similarly to this one, missing a bunch of field goals early on, but he straightened himself out over the season. I think he will bounce back over the course of the season.
Tags: Bills, Brad Smith, Brandon Bolden, Brandon Lloyd, Brandon Spikes, C.J. Spiller, Devin McCourty, Donald Jones, Kyle Love, Patrick Chung, Patriots, Rob Gronkowski, Ryan Fitzpatrick, scott chandler, Stephen Gostkowski, Stevan Ridley, Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork, Wes Welker