New England Patriots Defeat Buffalo Bills and Lock up Bye

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Dec 29, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount (29) warms up before the start of the game against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots opened the second half on defense and allowed another big play as Buffalo quarterback Thaddeus Lewis found tight end Scott Chandler for a 27 yard completion to midfield. forced a punt by Buffalo on their first second half drive and then nearly fumbled a golden opportunity Buffalo’s way. On the ensuing punt Julian Edelman muffed the punt inside the Patriots’ own ten yard line but for the fourth time in the game the Patriots lost the handle but found a way to recover their own fumble.

 

After a few first downs, the Bills managed to amass two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the same play to hand New England a free thirty yard gain and switch field position in a hurry. Unfortunately, two holding penalties gave most of the yards back and soon New England was facing a third-and-thirty-two. Rather than risk a turnover, Brady ripped off his second career punt to pin the Bills down at their own twenty-two yard line.

 

Both teams traded punts on their ensuing drives with three-and-outs as the rain continued to beat down on both teams.  Buffalo made the next big play as quarterback Thaddeus Lewis found T.J. Graham for 41 yards as he beat the Rutgers rookies Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon in the secondary.   After a dubious illegal use of hands penalty on third down called on Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones negated a stop by the Patriots.  Instead, Lewis made a play outside the pocket on second down to find T.J. Graham for a seven yard touchdown and cut the Patriots lead to 16-10.

 

LeGarrette Blount, with already over 100 yards rushing in the game, took the ensuing kickoff out of the end zone and returned it to the Buffalo 20 yard line.  The Patriots were stopped short on third down and as they lined up for the field goal Bills defensive lineman Marcell Dareus, the supremely talented but immature defensive lineman who was held out of the first half of the game due to a “coach’s decision” jumped offside and gave New England a new set of downs. One play later the Patriots were in the end zone and tacked on a two-point conversion to make it 24-10 early in the fourth quarter.

 

The Bills, to their credit, would not go quietly.  They stormed right back to score again. The key play was Fred Jackson taking a short pass and running right down the middle of the defense. Jackson finished it off from five yards to cut it to a touchdown.  The Patriots came back with yet another big return by LeGarrette Blount, this time for sixty yards. The drive stalled again in the red zone as Brady and Edelman were not on the same page on third-and-two. The field goal made it 27-17.

 

Buffalo, again, came back strong. On third down and six the Patriots set-up a screen pass to running back Shane Vereen in the right flat that Vereen could not corral and tipped up in the air where linebacker Manny Lawson picked it off.  Bills quarterback Thaddeus Lewis showed a lot of moxie as he moved the Bills into scoring territory quickly as he found running back C.J. Spiller twice and threw a laser to tight end Scott Chandler for a first down inside the 20 yard line. However, the Patriots defense made a strong stand and sacked Lewis on third down to force a field goal.

 

With the score 27 to 20, the Bills attempted the onside kick which was recovered by special teams maven Nate Ebner. From there it was all LeGarrette Blount as he carried multiple Buffalo Bills players and broke tackles and in two carries was in the end zone for the final margin of 34-20. For Blount, the 35 yard touchdown ramble gave him 189 yards rushing, a career high. Considering the weather conditions, it was a warning shot to the rest of the NFL that this team will be a load to handle in the elements.

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