Sep 8, 2013; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) catches a touchdown pass as Buffalo Bills defensive back Jim Leonhard (35) defends during the first quarter at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
The Patriots opened up their 2013 season with a 23-21 victory over their AFC East rivals, the Buffalo Bills. This game provided a lot of ups and downs, and a large part of this was due to the fact that most of the Patriots team played like it was still the preseason, however there were a few bright spots among all the negativity. Here are five guys that I think had the best outing in yesterday’s game.
1. Danny Amendola
I think that this one is obvious. Amendola played through an immense amount of pain to make a number of clutch plays that ended up helping the Patriots win the football game. Amendola showed off his incredible quickness off the line, and his glue-like hands were displayed throughout the second half. Brady has definitely established Amendola as his go-to guy, and in the Pats final drive on Sunday, Brady trusted him enough to go to him on key third downs. I think that Amendola is the real deal, and he proved that even though he may get banged up every once in a while, he has the toughness to cope with it. Amendola caught 10 balls for 104 yards in yesterday’s contest with Buffalo.
2. Julian Edelman
Everything that I said about Amendola can be said about Edelman when discussing players that shined against the Bills. In a game where all of Brady’s targets were non-existent (except for Amendola) Edelman stepped up. His versatility was in full display as he lined up in the slot, he took bubble screens, and he made some plays on the outside as well. Edelman’s knowledge of the offense seemed to pay dividends for him as his connection with Brady was terrific throughout the game.
3. Shane Vereen
After lead back Stevan Ridley fumbled in the second quarter, most of the Patriots running game fell on Vereen’s shoulders, and he responded in a big way. Vereen racked up 101 yards on 14 carries to go along with 58 yards on seven catches in the passing game. Vereen’s speed and agility gave the Bills defense some problems, and this gave the Pats offense some balance as the game progressed.
4. Kyle Arrington
Arrington’s coverage when he is on the outside is one of the most criticized things among the fans of the Patriots. But played very well against the Bills as both a cover man, as well as a tackler. He forced two Buffalo fumbles, and the Pats converted both of them into touchdowns. Arrington was solid in the passing game as I don’t remember him being beat as often as he was last season.
5. Stephen Gostkowski
Gostkowski nailed all three field goals he attempted, including the game winner with five seconds remaining in the game. Having a clutch kicker is one of the most important things a successful football team can have. Quarterback Tom Brady led the Pats right down the field as the final seconds ticked away, and Gostkowski came through for New England. He also hit a 48 yarder early in the game, showing he still can hit those long ones when needed.