Rushing yards for the New England Patriots. We pretty much had to lead off with this statistic. The Patriots were simply the more physically dominant team on Sunday, and that’s the second straight week they’ve accomplished that feat. LeGarrette Blount was virtually unstoppable, racking up 189 yards on 24 carries, including two touchdowns. Stevan Ridley was an excellent change of pace as well, picking up 74 yards on 12 carries. Critics in recent years have often said that the Patriots don’t play the “physical” brand of football necessary to win football games in January and February. The Patriots look prepped to prove those critics wrong in the playoffs.
Percentage of Tom Brady’s targets that went to Julian Edelman. In total, Edelman caught 9 of the Patriots’ 14 completions. Shane Vereen caught three passes and Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson had a catch each. It’s nice that the Patriots didn’t have to throw the ball much, but you definitely want to see Brady distributing his throws more evenly. Kenbrell Thompkins played 34 snaps on Sunday, running routes on 14 of them (according to ProFootballFocus.com), and wasn’t targeted once. It’s hard to tell if that’s a product of Brady locking in on just Edelman, or an inability for players such as Thompkins to get open. It’s one game, but will be something to monitor in the playoffs.
The Bills’ 4th down efficiency in the game on Sunday. This comes just a week after the Patriots picked up three key 4th down stops against the Ravens. The Patriots had a very solid third down efficiency as well (4/13), but the ability of this defense to get off the field in the absolute most critical situations is a very encouraging sign.
The Patriots red zone efficiency on offense against the Bills. Not a great mark after some success in this area against the Ravens. Fortunately, the Patriots did execute their only goal-to-go situation and they also connected on a beautifully crafted Brady-to-Edelman two-point conversion, so this mark may have been more due to drives stalling than traditional red zone struggles.
Quarterback hits and sacks combined on Tom Brady. The Bills have a very good front four, led by tackles Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams, and defensive ends Jerry Hughes and Mario Williams. The Patriots didn’t throw much on Sunday, but the protection did hold up when they needed it too. The return of left tackle Nate Solder was a definite factor.
Fumbles that hit the ground on Sunday for the Patriots. Fortunately, the Patriots recovered all four of these. But overall, this number highlights how this was a relatively sloppy game for the team. There’s no question that while this game seemed in their control throughout, the result could have been much different had a few bounces gone the other way.