By: Russ Goldman
Each week I am going to look back, and give you six takeaways I got from watching the Patriots game. I want this to be a balanced post so I am going to give you an equal share of the positive and the negative takeaways in this match-up for the Pats.
1. I think you have to start with the play of Danny Amendola in this game if you are going to talk about positives for the Patriots against the Bills. I know most Patriots fans probably got concerned when you saw Amendola head to the sideline, and at half-time the Patriots announced that his return was questionable.
Well, Amendola did return in the second half, and ended the day with 10 receptions for 104.4 yards which is an excellent debut. More important than those statistics has to be the key receptions he made, and specifically on third down which stood out for me.
To go back into the game and fight through adversity was quite impressive from Amendola. I can see why many Patriots fans think he was the player of the game.
2. Shane Vereen showed why he could potentially be the lead back for the Patriots. With Stevan Ridley apparently benched for fumbling, Vereen stepped up to handle the load of the carries at running back.
Vereen ended the day with 101 yards for a 7.2 yards per carry average which is excellent. He also got a key run on the final drive which set up the Patriots game winning field goal. Vereen could emerge as a serious play-maker for the Patriots this season.
3. The Patriots defense limited the Bills main targets overall in this game. Now, if you want to criticize the Patriots lack of pass rush you certainly can as it was pretty much non-existent.
However, part of the lack of pass rush might have been by design as I feel the main defensive objective in this game was stopping C.J. Spiller. The Patriots limited Spiller to 41 yards, and he had a 2.4 yards per carry. The Patriots did their job against this explosive back.
The other main target for the Bills was Steve Johnson, and while he caught a great touchdown pass, overall he only had 3 receptions for the entire game for a total of 39 yards.
You have to give credit to quarterback E.J. Manuel for throwing a perfect pass to Johnson for the touchdown, but beyond that he had very little impact in this game. The Patriots defense really contained for the most part two dangerous players.
The defense I thought did their job as the Bills only had 286 total yards, while having only 150 passing yards. The Bills were also only 30 per cent on third down. If you look a little closer at the game, I think you will see that the Patriots defense actually played pretty well.
1. The fumbling issue with Stevan Ridley returned and affected the game. Ridley fumbled on the Bills 25 yard line in the second quarter, and Da’Norris Searcy ran the ball back 75 yards for a touchdown.
This fumble was a turning point in this game because the Patriots were potentially going in to score another touchdown, and make the score 17-0 midway through the second quarter. Instead, the Bills cut the lead to 10-7, and the game was back and forth moving forward until the very end.
Ridley ran for 46 yards with a 5.1 yards per carry, but those numbers are pretty much forgotten as one play really changed the game. If Ridley wants to be the every down back for the Patriots, he is going to have to solve his fumbling problem.
2. Kenbrell Thompkins had serious growing pains against the Buffalo Bills. Let me start by saying that I think Thompkins will improve, and hopefully learn from his mistakes.
However, he was very poor in this game as he was targeted 14 times, and only had 4 receptions for 42 yards. On a few occasions he possibly could have had receptions if he had two feet in bound instead of one. Over time I think he will learn how to get both feet in, but this was a problem against the Bills.
Overall he struggled to be on the same page with Brady, and it did hurt the offense move the ball. As stated earlier, he should improve over time, but he was a negative in this game.
3. Ryan Allen needs to do a more consistent job of punting moving forward. I know this was his first game, but he had two punts that were poor that affected field position. He had an average of 39.3 yards per punt, which is decent but moving forward he is going to have to work on being consistent in pinning the offense back with a deep punt, and also getting the Patriots out of trouble when he is punting from around his goal line.
In concluding there are positives and negatives to take out of this game that I can look at. However, the most important fact is that the Patriots actually won the game 23-21, and the score happens to be the most important statistic.