Tom Brady and his Patriots quiet down Rex Ryan and Bills Mafia in a 41-25 win against a fairly banged up Bills squad. TB12 got all of his crew involved in the passing game, Gostkowski is back to kicking the ball through the uprights; meanwhile, there are still defensive and offensive line concerns. Let’s talk about it.
Let’s start with a guy by the name of Tom Brady. Brady is defying something called "age," looking better at age 39 than he did at, say, age 30. He’s only solidifying his title as the GOAT. Brady tied the NFL record Sunday by winning his 26th career game against the Bills. He went 22-33, threw for 315 yards, 4 TD’s and once again, 0 INT’s. Converting 9/13 third downs is another massive stat. Ever since Brady’s return, New England’s offense is averaging 34 points per game. He’s only played four games since coming off of his four-game suspension, but he’s already in the MVP discussion. Through his first four games: 1,319 yards, 12 TD’s, 0 INT’s, and a 4-0 record. It’s just absurd. Given, there isn’t much competition as of right now, but still. Nobody has seen even the slightest bit of rust in his game, except for, of course, Brady himself.
Brady also happened to throw his first touchdown pass to a wide receiver this year: one to Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan and Julian Edelman. Edelman also caught his first touchdown of the season on Sunday. He came up with a few more big catches, still easing his way back into the offense with that lingering injured foot. As for Chris Hogan, he again wasn’t used all that much, but came up big when he was utilized. In the first quarter, Brady chucked the ball deep to Hogan for a 53-yard touchdown pass, setting the tone early on in the game. Lastly, Danny Amendola had a monster game, as expected with Malcolm Mitchell inactive. Amendola caught the first touchdown of the game, and began the second half with a 73-yard kickoff return that was essentially the turning point in the game. All in all, Edelman, Hogan and Amendola caught their first scores from Brady this season in this game.
Rob Gronkowski had himself a game, as well. He had five catches for 109 yards and one TD. That touchdown happened to be his 69th career touchdown, much to Gronk’s joy, as you’d expect. That 69th TD happened to break the Patriots record for all-time touchdowns by a receiver, breaking Stanley Morgan’s 68 TD’s in 180 games, while Gronk scored his 69 touchdowns in just 86 games. Keep in mind, Gronk is only 27, and is arguably already the greatest tight end of all time. He is not human.
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski deserves mention, too. For the majority of the season, even dating back to the preseason, Gostkowski has had the yips. Missing PAT’s here, missing FG’s there. It’s been a total mental thing for him, without a doubt. Things are finally beginning to look up for him. He made all seven of his kicks: five extra points and two field goals, connecting from 32 yards and 51 yards. A couple of his kicks hit the post, only a couple were bullseyes, but making all of his kicks has to be a major confidence booster for him. Whatever it takes to get his mojo back again.
Now, about the offensive line. There are still lots of issues that need fixing. LT Nate Solder had a noticeably hard time guarding Bills’ Kyle Williams, and Marcus Cannon struggled with Zach Brown, also making a couple of costly mistakes, forcing some big Patriots gains to be called back. The Patriots only ran for 71 yards, and LeGarrette Blount got stuffed at the line throughout the entire game, only averaging 2.6 yards per carry. Brady got sacked four times in this game, and got hit a total of eight times. Brady had a limited amount of time in the pocket on almost every play, having to force unwanted throws and take risks. Even with Dante Scarnecchia back, the o-line woes continue for New England.
For what seemed like the eighth week in a row, New England’s defense bent but did not break. They allowed 25 points to the Bills, letting up more than 20 points to an opponent for the first time since Week 2, but still managed to stay intact. Buffalo was severely shorthanded, especially at the running back position with an injured LeSean McCoy. The Bills were not expected to run well against the Pats, but still managed to light up their run defense for the majority of the afternoon. In the third quarter, the Patriots failed to contain the middle and let QB Tyrod Taylor run for a 26-yard touchdown with ease. Also on this play, Jamie Collins was held probably as much as a football player could be held without getting a call, therefore creating a huge gap up the middle, but it was still inexcusable to give such a mobile quarterback like Taylor that much room to run.
At one point, on two consecutive plays, New England’s D was penalized for 12 men on the field and then 10 men on the field. For a Bill Belichick coached defense, it was a putrid performance. It’s hard to think that Belichick continues to allow his defense to get away with this any longer. Finally, there is still question about who exactly the second cornerback is. Newcomer Eric Rowe started the game behind Malcolm Butler, but had another rough time out there and was replaced by both Justin Coleman and Logan Ryan. Cyrus Jones, who has been a healthy scratch for three straight weeks, most likely still in the doghouse, is still apart of the equation, so the second CB spot will remain a mystery for at least a little while longer.
The Patriots head into their Week 9 bye with a 7-1 record, remaining the number one team in the league by a significant margin. Tom Brady said post-game “Coach Belichick said that seven wins won’t get you anywhere in this league, and he’s right,” so don’t expect New England to let up anytime soon. Even Rex Ryan said after the game that the Bills have no shot at winning the East, so there’s that. The Pats are in a terrific spot right now under all circumstances. This Week 9 bye smack dab in the middle of the season is perfect, allowing any nicked up guys to get an extra week of rest and for the team to clean up any mistakes or bad habits that have been looming. Everything's coming up Patriots, per usual. Sorry not sorry, Roger Goodell.