Patriots versus Bills: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
Call it the tale of two-halfs for the New England Patriots as they defeated the Buffalo Bills 52-28 after trailing 14-7 at the end of the first half. We take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly that occured from the New England Patriots.
Ever since Corey Dillon was released, the Patriots haven’t had a running game that could carry the team when the passing game is off. Today makes you think differently. Running backs Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden showed enough to think that they could do exactly that. Ridley has 22 carries, 106 yards and two touchdowns. Bolden, an undrafted rookie, had 16 carries, 137 yards and a touchdown.
CORRECTION: Last time #Patriots had 2 players rush for 100-yards in same game was 11/23/80 vs. BAL: Don Calhoun (106), Vagas Ferguson (100)
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 30, 2012
While the passing game was stagnant, the rushing game carried the team. Even Tom Brady got in on the 247 rushing yards with a four yard run that earned him a touchdown. Brady thought that forcing the Patriots to run would benefit them, but that didn’t happen.
“I think they were really challenging us to run the ball. They had some little guys on the field with our big personnel groupings, so at that point you have to try to take advantage of it. You can’t just keep throwing into a heavy pass defense, so we ran it.”
Outside of the offense’s dominant second half performance, the defense was the reason the Patriots were able to hang around until the second half. They put pressure on the Bills passing game and came away with four huge interceptions. Devin McCourty redeemed himself after dropping two interceptions last year by getting two today. Rookie Tavon Wilson and Pro-Bowl linebacker Jerod Mayo had one a piece also.
Outside of the first offensive drive for the Patriots, their offense was pathetic in the first half. After two interceptions in the Bill territory, they didn’t even sniff a touchdown. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore took Brandon Lloyd out the game. Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski ended promising drives with fumbles that eventually led to touchdowns. And Gronkowski dropped some key passes that would have put the Patriots into better position to put points on the board early on. It was very uncharacteristic.
On the defensive side, Patrick Chung didn’t have his best outing. He got caught looking into the backfield after a couple of play-actions and was beat deep for two touchdowns.
In my years of being a Patriots fan, I can’t remember Stephen Gostkowski missing the chip shots he’s missed recently. Not including the potential game-winner against the Arizona Cardinals, Stephen looks like he’s lacking the confidence and if he can’t be a reliable source either New England will be shopping for a kicker this week or the offense will be going for it on 4th and short.
Player of the Game
I would’ve gone with Tom Brady who anchored the team in the 2nd half. I could have gone with the running back pair that scored a total of three touchdowns, but if it wasn’t for linebacker Brandon Spikes, the game may have been out of reach and the teams’ confidence may have been shattered. At the end of the 2nd half, Spikes forced a fumble recovered by b that kept the score at 14-7. In the third quarter, Spikes forced another fumble which eventually turned into a Brady-to-Gronk touchdown that put the Patriots up 28-21 and they never looked back.