Patriots vs. Bills Final Score: Pats Hang On, Clinch Bye with 34-20 Win

Jim Rogash

The New England Patriots played sloppy football, but a strong performance by LeGarrette Blount helped the Patriots beat the Bills and clinch a first round bye.

The New England Patriots are officially the AFC's #2 seed and will get a first round bye in the playoffs, following a 34-20 victory over the Buffalo Bills in week 17.  A loss to the Bills would have dropped the Patriots to the #4 seed.

Without a doubt, LeGarrette Blount was the MVP of this game for the Patriots.  Blount was a chain-moving machine, running both powerfully and nimbly on route to 189 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns.  Blount's first touchdown was a 36 yard scamper in the second quarter.  His second was a 35-yard run down the left sideline in the fourth quarter that iced the game.

And, oh yeah, I forgot to mention: Blount also had kick returns of 82 and 62 to set up Patriots scores.

In fact, the Patriots didn't have to do much at all in the air today.  The Patriots, likely wary over the heavy downpour, brought a physical edge to the game and ran all over the Bills all game.  It wasn't just Blount who had success - Stevan Ridley picked up 74 yards on 12 carries.

Tom Brady and the passing offense didn't look sharp.  I'm not sure if that's a reason for concern considering the weather.  But it was nice to see the Patriots win with their running attack for the second straight game.

Defensively, the Patriots struggled to contain C.J. Spiller.  They won plenty of battles up front, but too many times lost containment of the running game to the outside.  There were simply too many 10+ yard gains.

There were also some concerns from an undisciplined secondary in the second half.  All three of the Patriots' cornerbacks were beat at certain moments in the second half.

Overall, this wasn't a great performance from the Patriots, and wasn't exactly an ideal "dress rehearsal."  The play was too sloppy, there were too many mental mistakes, and there were too many instances of the Patriots being bailed out by poor execution on opportunities that playoff teams will capitalize on.

Nonetheless, the Patriots ultimately took care of business, and they will now host the Colts, Chiefs, or Bengals in the Divisional Playoffs in two weeks.

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