Despite more injuries, inadvertent whistles and other fun things that came up Monday night against the Bills, the Patriots managed to escape with a 20-13 win to improve to 10-0 on the season.
The road obviously doesn’t get any easier with a trip out to Denver up next, but here’s a quick look at some things we learned Monday night against Rex Ryan’s bunch.
1) One of the Patriots biggest problems Monday night was the Bills wreaking havoc on New England’s offense on early downs. According to the official stats sheet, Brady sustained 10 quarterback hits from the Bills defense, which absolutely pummeled him all night. But one number that stood out was the fact Buffalo held him to just 8-of-18 passing on first down including an interception, which put them in long-yardage situations early. They faced 2nd-and-7 or more on 16 of their 20 second down plays, and as you can imagine, that lead to the Patriots then having to overcome 3rd-and-7 or longer nine times with just three conversions on a night where they converted just 4-of-14 on 3rd down.
2) Speaking of third down, Brady overall was 5-of-9 for 87 yards with three passing first downs, which included a touchdown to James White. Danny Amendola was his leading third down receiver, catching 3-of-4 targets for 57-yards and caught two of those three first downs. After Amendola went down late in the game with a knee injury the Patriots passing game regressed even further. In the final quarter of play it was all they could do to run out the clock and they relied on the running game almost exclusively, with Brady attempting just four passes in the fourth quarter with two completions. However, after finally hitting a big play to Rob Gronkowski, he threw an ill-advised pass going to the well one too many times that was picked off after he tried to go deep on back-to-back plays. But overall they were in a tough spot for most of the night and between getting knocked around and battling quite a few long-yardage situations, it made for a long evening overall for the veteran quarterback.
Tom Brady was knocked around all night Monday night. (USA TODAY Images)
3) Seeing Aaron Dobson get injured was a tough blow to an offense that needed a spark after losing Julian Edelman for the foreseeable future, and for Dobson, it potentially signals a critical point in his future in New England. No word has really come out yet about the severity of his ankle injury, but he couldn’t put any weight on it after getting it tangled during his acrobatic 17-yard reception in the second quarter. He left the game and was carted back to the locker room shortly after. With just over a month left to go and their depth at receiver already suffering significant hits, they can’t afford to take much time to make a decision if he’s going to be out for any length of time. One thing is probably certain and that’s the fact that an IR designation is likely as good as a death sentence for the former Marshall standout as a Patriot, and that’s too bad because he’s talented enough where he’ll probably be one of the few players we’ve seen move on to be productive elsewhere.
4) The inadvertent whistle debacle Monday night goes down as one of the most bizarre plays ever when the officials completely blew it after blowing the play dead on what looked to be a sure touchdown. Looking back at the play, Brady hit Amendola while rolling right and it’s hard to figure out exactly what the officials were looking at, other than the fact it looked like Brady was just throwing the football away. He apparently either faked out the officials or somehow they thought Amendola stepped out. However, replays revealed that didn’t come close to happening. It didn’t help that Rex Ryan was on the field distracting them at the same time, with the one solace being that he was at least flagged for it. Bill Belichick was low key and had little to say about it after the game, but that may go down as one of the worst blown calls in team history and the Patriots were fortunate it didn’t cost them.
5) Lost in the mix might have been the play of the night, which was made by Patriots safety Devin McCourty. McCourty broke up a sure touchdown to LeSean McCoy in the second quarter on a deep 3rd down pass, which could arguably be considered as the play that saved the game. Following the play the Bills attempted a 48 yard field goal that hit the right upright and gave New England the ball back with 0:46 to go in the half. From there the Patriots marched 62 yards on 6 plays and scored a touchdown thanks to a 20-yard pass to White. McCourty’s play completely changed that sequence of events and it he definitely deserves a little recognition for a pretty terrific performance overall.
Now the Patriots have a tough week as they try and sort through the injuries and get ready to travel to Denver to take on the Broncos next Sunday night.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary