Best and Worst: Patriots 25, Bills 6
The final score would indicate a fairly routine Patriots-Bills game in Buffalo -- a one-sided New England victory -- but this was anything but. The Bills' spirited defense kept this one close, and the Pats had only a shaky 12-6 lead in the fourth quarter. But an 85-yard scoring drive gave them a bit of breathing room and then an 84-yard pick six by Devin McCourty (finally) put it away.
Here's some of the best and worst of New England's 25-6 victory.
PATTERSON RUNNING BACK
No Sony Michel? No problem. The Patriots lined up wide receiver Cordarelle Patterson in the backfield behind fullback James Develin on their first offensive series, giving Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier something to think about right out of the chutes.
After several hours deliberating what it all means that the Patriots were benching wide receiver Josh Gordon for two occasions of tardiness over the past few days, Gordon was on the field at the start of the game.
EMPTY DA BUCKET
LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory both ran Wildcat plays on the first Bills offensive series and threw in a double-reverse flea flicker for good measure.
NOTHING BUT FLOWERS
On consecutive first quarter plays, Trey Flowers corralled LeSean McCoy for a loss then avoided a cut block and rose up to nearly intercept a Derek Anderson pass directed over the middle.
Tre’Davious White went nice on an 8-yard, first-down carry in the second quarter. White probably could have whacked Brady pretty good but opted out.
James Develin had one catch for 7 yards in the first half but the fullback was able to knock a Bills defender over like a bowling pin so it was a much bigger play than the 7 yards indicates.
Chris Ivory was able to have a fairly routine pass from Derek Anderson elude his hands and smash into his helmet. Coulda taken his eye out.
NO FAIR CATCH
Julian Edelman called for a fair catch then started dealing out blocks during a second-half punt return. He got whistled for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
BOOMED BUT FLAT PUNT
Ryan Allen boomed a 55-yard punt in the second half that was in the air less than four seconds and returned 31 yards to set up a Bills field goal.
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy got around the left edge and blindsided Derek Anderson who fumbled and had his miscue recovered by Patriots safety Patrick Chung.
OVER THE TOP GRONK
Immediately following the strip sack, Tom Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for a ridiculous catch on the left sideline where he plucked it off the defender’s helmet and kept his feet in.
For the second week in a row, Elandon Roberts dropped a certain interception.
With the Patriots facing third-and-8 early in the fourth quarter, Brady found James White who turned Bills linebacker Julian Stanford inside out, extending a touchdown drive that would end with White going over for the score.
ALMOST, BUT . . .
The Bills hung in after White's touchown and appeared to have cut the Pats' lead to 18-13 when Jason Croom acted for all the world like he'd hauled in a scoring pass from Derek Anderson. Alas, you (usually) can't fool the replay cameras, and this one was overturned before you could say "Wait a minute, isn't that the ball on the ground?"
And when Devin McCourty returned an interception 84 yards for a touchdown moments later -- the Patriots' first pick-six since 2013 and their first defensive touchdown since 2015 (that 40-game drought was the longest active streak in the NFL) -- that was all she wrote.