By: Ian Logue
Looking back at Sunday’s game against the Bills, obviously this week there was certainly far more to be happy about than there was last week, so here’s a look at what went well, and where they struggled against Buffalo.
- Jermaine Cunningham made a great play on the 4th play of the game, taking down CJ Spiller for a loss. He was a guy who had a lot of success getting in the backfield at Florida, and plays like that one were exactly why New England drafted him. He also put good pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick which helped force the high throw on the interception to Patrick Chung.
- Danny Woodhead made a good impression in his new role with the team, scoring New England’s 2nd touchdown on a 22-yard run, which was a career long run and his first touchdown of his career.
- Aaron Hernandez had a great 12-yard run on an end around on New England’s opening series. He broke a couple of tackles before being taken down and finished the afternoon with a team high 6 catches for 65-yards.
- Tom Brady was as good as it gets on Sunday, making a great play-action fake on New England’s first touchdown, hitting Randy Moss who slipped by the defense after they bit on the fake. He finished the afternoon 21-of-27 for 252-yards and three touchdowns, with a quarterback rating of 142.6. He also had a big moment after scrambling on a third down play early in the 3rd quarter, and then pumping his fist after he made the first down. It was a key play as it kept the drive going and later lead to a touchdown throw to Rob Gronkowski.
- Randy Moss didn’t start Sunday’s game and only had two receptions, but both of them went for touchdowns, with Moss making one of them in spectacular fashion. He caught it traffic, even bumping into the official on the play but still held onto the ball.
- Brandon Meriweather had a tough week after it was learned he hasn’t been starting because of the fact the coaches were unhappy with his need to improvise in practice instead of sticking to his assignment. He made a great play early in the game when he came in from the backside and chased down Marshawn Lynch on one play, and also later had an interception which sealed the game for New England. He finished Sunday’s game with five tackles.
- Mike Wright did a great job Sunday in collapsing the pocket and he also did a decent job against the run.
- Tully Banta-Cain as usual had a good game against Buffalo. While he didn’t finish with a sack, he helped flush Fitzpatrick on the play where Jerod Mayo chased him down for his second career sack.
- Patrick Chung was all over the field on Sunday and was aggressive on every play, finishing the afternoon with 7 tackles and also had an interception.
- Jerod Mayo was solid all afternoon, making his second sack of his career and finishing with 9 tackles. He’s off to another great start this season.
- BenJarvus Green-Ellis carried 16 times for 98 yards including a touchdown, and may have given Belichick a reason to give him more playing time after today’s performance – especially if Taylor is still hobbled with his toe injury.
- Kyle Arrington inadvertently made a key block for Marshawn Lynch on Buffalo’s opening drive, getting blocked to the ground by Bills’ receiver Roscoe Parrish. Patrick Chung had a good angle on him, but tripped over Arrington and Parrish ended up picking up 16 yards on the play. He did do a great job of knocking away a touchdown pass attempt from Fitzpatrick early in the game to Lee Evans, but made a bad decision on the next play, when he moved over on Brandon Meriweather’s man, and got picked out of the play on Buffalo’s first touchdown. He may have won the battle between he and Butler Sunday as he finished with three tackles and Butler finished with one – but he clearly has a lot of work to do to become the player the Patriots need him to be.
- Fred Taylor had some good runs early in the game, but was later seen being tended to by trainers as he continues to battle with a toe injury.
- Brandon Tate looked tentative during kickoff returns, and also fumbled away a 16-yard reception on a third and long play that would have been a first down on their third drive of the game. Moss tried to recover it but it appeared they wrestled it away for Buffalo’s first takeaway of the season.
- Rob Gronkowski scored a touchdown, but got called for an interference penalty at the start of the second quarter (the first of his career) which set up 1st and 20. That third and long lead to the fumble by Tate which later lead to a touchdown by the Bills.
- Zoltan Mesko had a forgettable afternoon punting the football. The normally sure-footed Mesko only averaged 34.7 net yards on the day, which certainly was out of character for the rookie and his lowest output of the season.
- The Patriots special teams allowing a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown right after Moss’ touchdown catch to get he Bills back within one at 24-23 w/12:58 left in the 3rd. Not exactly something you want to see right after you score a touchdown.
It was nice of CBS’s feed to die right before kickoff. Fans missed the opening kickoff the feed appeared to be restored just before the first snap by Buffalo’s offense on their opening drive…Jermaine Cunningham got the starting nod for the Patriots at OLB over Tully Banta-Cain….Kyle Arrington also got the start over Darius Butler….It’s interesting to note that Brandon Tate got the nod over Randy Moss who didn’t start Sunday, but Moss caught the touchdown for New England on their opening drive. After Sunday’s game Moss became the 2nd player in NFL history with 150 or more touchdown catches. Only he and Jerry Rice (197) have 150 or more…. Shawn Crable finally got his first snap of the season on defense, playing in the dime package on the third-down stop before Buffalo’s second field goal. He made his first official tackle around the 8:19 mark while taking down Marshawn Lynch….Bill Belichick was seen having a long chat with play-caller Bill O’Brien during a timeout following one of Buffalo’s touchdowns…Belichick was also quite animated just before the end of the half, as he was seen screaming at the officials after the Bills field goal before halftime. Belichick said after the game he was frustrated by the use of timeouts by Buffalo – who tried to use an additional timeout that shouldn’t have been allowed…Danny Woodhead’s 22-yard touchdown run Sunday was the longest by a Patriot since Laurence Maroney scored from 45-yards out in the snow against the Titans last year in their 59-0 home rout… Wes Welker now has 364 receptions with the Patriots, moving him ahead of Irving Fryar (363) into 5th place in franchise history… Alge Crumpler saw a little time at fullback Sunday, and made a couple of good blocks in the running game….Patriots opened in the no-huddle to start the second half, which ended with a 35-yard scoring strike to Moss. That touchdown by Brady was the 232 of his career, tying Steve Young for 19th all time. He later broke that mark when he threw a touchdown to Gronkowski two possessions later.