Patriots Report Card: New England Responds in Buffalo, Does Their Talking on the Field
The New England Patriots defeated the Buffalo Bills 40-32 on Sunday afternoon.
Here’s how the Patriots graded out in week two. —
Offense: A –
As a Patriots fan, it’s hard not to get excited looking at Tom Brady’s performance through the first two weeks. He’s lighting it up and trying to make a statement each week. He’s angry, and I’m not sure it’s the worst thing for the team. When Brady’s dialed in like this, every opposing defense is going to struggle.
Dion Lewis is fun to watch, but another fumble this week is concerning. Do you think Stevan Ridley and Jonas Gray were texting Sunday and wondering what he’s doing different? Lewis is a slippery, dynamic back with big play ability. His pass blocking keeps him on the field and he has incredible ability. At some point, though, his chances will run out. Ball security is priority one.
Amendola has been quiet to start the season, but he made an incredible diving catch Sunday. With Brandon LaFell sidelined, Aaron Dobson made an appearance. It’s good to see the third-year receiver make plays, but it still doesn’t look natural with him. The upside for Dobson is he doesn’t need to be more than a fifth option in this offense.
One difference from last season to this season is the offensive line. While Josh McDaniels has done a good job getting the ball out of Brady’s hands quickly, the line is keeping him clean and it’s translating into a more efficient unit. With Brady held upright, he’s more confident and able to stand in the pocket without laying down at the feet of the closest defender.
One quick note: the Bills defensive line was owned this week. A lot of bark, little bite. But for one of the most talented defensive lines in football, they were a non-factor.
Buffalo’s first drive went for 80 yards in ten plays. Too easy. The next Bills drive was a three-and-out that led to the first scoring Patriots drive. New England tightened it up defensively and made the appropriate adjustments. Forcing Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor to look beyond his first read threw a wrench in Buffalo’s offense.
New England’s front seven was disappointing in week one, but came out with an eight sack performance in week two. Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia got creative and brought some linebacker pressure up the middle periodically that caused some issues for Buffalo. It’s key for the Patriots to utilize their talent linebackers in blitzing throughout the year.
The biggest criticism for the day, defensively, was how the team finished. 19 fourth quarter points by the Bills made the final score a lot closer than it needed to be. Yes, the offense appeared to get caught running up the score and could have helped the defense out by running more, but Buffalo had too much success late.
Back to back weeks the Patriots seemed to let their foot off the throat of opponents and make the final score closer than the game indicated. Finishing will be a key as the season moves along.
Special Teams: A –
Patrick Chung and Rufus Johnson’s penalties were the only real negatives. Ryan Allen has been solid, but Stephen Gostkowski has earned his contract in both games this season. Four field goals and seven kickoffs with no chance for the Bills to return helped dictate field position.
The Patriots move to 2-0 on the year. While this was a solid win, it’s important the team finishes games better than they have so far this season. Overall, however, it’s great to see how the Pats responded early in this contest. Walked into a tough environment, faced an early deficit, then answered like a championship team. It wasn’t perfect, but high marks overall in this divisional showdown.
Onto week three, when the team hosts the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium.
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