Oct 12, 2014; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New England Patriots quarterbackTom Brady
(12) throws a pass against the Buffalo Bills during the 2nd half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Patriots beat the Bills 37-22. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
It was a celebration in Buffalo as the crowd was noisy and boisterous in Orchard Park, NY as Ralph Wilson Stadium welcomed new owner Terry Pegula. Less welcome was number twelve in the New England Patriots White and Blue road uniforms as quarterback Tom Brady once more faced off against his division rivals to the North, this time with sole possession of first place in the AFC East for the taking.
It was a game about toughness: both teams had strong running games and both teams were determined to not allow the other to control the clock and grind out yards. The Patriots had just 50 yards rushing on 27 attempts. Buffalo ground out 68 yards on 23 carries (all statistics from NFL.com). Both teams were forced to go to the air to try win the game (especially for New England after Stevan Ridley left with a knee injury in the third quarter). The Patriots had Tom Brady behind center and Darrelle Revis matched-up on the Bills top receiving weapon.
Advantage New England.
A close game throughout, New England pulled away in the second half to a 37-22 win as the offense came to life despite an offensive line with injury issues and being forced to utilize members of the much-maligned young group that opened the season. Kudos to second-year guard Josh Kline acquitting himself well at right and left guard. Youngster Jordan Devey (aka “The Tuba Player” on talk radio in Boston) stepping in at left guard when Dan Connolly was injured. tackle Marcus Cannon also filled in at tackle for a few series. Without impressive rookie center Bryan Stork already the line held the ferocious Bills pass rush to just two sacks while giving Brady the chance to drop back 39 times.
Oct 12, 2014; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive tackleKyle Williams
(95) hits New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) after a pass during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. New England beats Buffalo 37 to 22. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Brady completed 27 of 37 passes connecting to ten different receivers. Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, and Brandon LaFell all topped 90 yards receiving. LaFell had two touchdowns and new deep-threat Brian Tyms and tight end Tim Wright each pulled in a touchdown. Brady finished with the four touchdown passes and 361 yards through the air.
On defense, the Patriots lost linebacker Jerod Mayo to a knee injury in the second quarter. Already without Dont’a Hightower for the second straight week, the Patriots linebacker group already had rookie Deonte Skinner in for Hightower and second-year linebacker Jamie Collins found himself with Skinner and Chris White lining up next to him. The Patriots also mixed safety Tavon Wilson into the mix as part of a “big nickel” package (three safeties-two linebackers). Collins had an early interception and was one of the few players able to cover Patriots-killer tight end Scott Chandler who had six receptions for 105 yards.
The Bills offensive line has struggled everywhere but left tackle (Cordy Glenn) and center (Eric Wood). Buffalo rookie right tackle Seantrel Henderson had a tough game against veteran Rob Ninkovich. Ninkovich sacked his Purdue University teammate Kyle Orton three times (Skinner and Chandler Jones had the other two) and was active in the running game as well. Safety Patrick Chung had some big hits and Devin McCourty was again effective and steady on the back of the defense.
Oct 12, 2014; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiverRobert Woods
(10) catches a pass for a two point conversion as New England Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) and cornerbackLogan Ryan
(26) defend during the 2nd half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Patriots beat the Bills 37-22. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
However, the star of the defense was cornerback Darrelle Revis. Matched-up on Buffalo’s ultra-talented rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins, Revis–for the second consecutive week–showed why Revis Island can be a lonely place for a receiver. Last week Revis held Cincinnati’s Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green to just three receptions, this week Watkins had just two receptions for 27 yards as Orton was often looking to his second and third option to throw the ball to.
For the Patriots, the key to the game was the defense creating turnovers (two fumble recoveries and an interception) while making key stops when necessary. The offense controlled the game with the short passing game while Brady took shots downfield as well including finding Tyms on a 43 touchdown pass. In the second half the Patriots offense was unstoppable as they went touchdown, field goal, touchdown, touchdown, and victory formation.
Now, it is a short week as the Patriots come home to face the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football. The Jets are coming off a hard-found game at home against Denver where the Jets stayed close until the end losing 31 to 17. The Jets had a chance to tie the Broncos getting the ball back with less than a minute to play and down by a touchdown, but Geno Smith threw a pick-six to end their chances at the end.