It’s a habit the Patriots hope to not see carry over to the playoffs when they had another slow start on offense and defense but were able to come back to pull out the victory. The Patriots went down big early to the Buffalo Bills, going three-and-out twice and giving up 21 points in the first quarter. Tom Brady and the offense looked slow and confused and the defense looked completely out of sync and overmatched in the first quarter. Once the clock ticked 00:00 to signal the end of that disastrous quarter, the Patriots looked like a completely different team, at least offensively.
Tom Brady got hot, thanks to some help from Aaron Hernandez and Stevan Ridley, and the offense scored 14 points in the second and third quarters each, and then 14 points in the fourth quarter, with the defense chipping in with a score of its own. The defense did not yield another point, thanks in part to a missed field goal before the end of the first half. They also became ball hawks, intercepting Ryan Fitzpatrick four times. Two of those picks came from Sterling Moore, who made spectacular plays undercutting routes, and returned one of those picks for a touchdown. Mark Anderson and Kyle Love each had one sack of Fitzpatrick as well.
Brady went 23-of-35 for 338 yards, 3 touchdowns, a pick, and was sacked 4 times. Rob Gronkowski led the team in catches with 8 for 108 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Aaron Hernandez led with team in receiving yards with 138 yards on 7 catches and a touchdown. Hernandez also had two running plays, something we’re starting to see more of, that went for 26 total yards. Rookie RB Stevan Ridley led the team on the ground, carrying the ball 15 times for 81 yards (5.4 yards per carry), with a long run of 21 yards. BenJarvus Green-Ellis also chipped in with 22 yards on 7 carries and 2 touchdowns.
With the win today, the Patriots clinched the #1 seed and homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. Add to that the fact that the Miami Dolphins beat the New York Jets 19-17 and knocked them out of the playoffs, and it’s an all-around good day for Patriots fans.