Patriots Batting 1.000 So Far in East
New England got off to a slow start Sunday. Outside of an early interception, the offense couldn't move the ball effectively, certainly couldn't find the end zone, and the defense could hardly stop Buffalo rookie running back Marshawn Lynch.
By the end of the third quarter, the Patriots offense was scoring at will, and the defense had the Bills completely stymied. The final was 38-7, but as the cliché says, it wasn't really that close.
38 - - - 7
For the third time this season, New England posted 38 points on the scoreboard. For the first time this season, the offense scored all the points. And it looked like they could have score more. A lot more.
The offensive starters played only the first 4 minutes, 32 seconds of the fourth quarter; but even after Asante Samuel picked his first pass of the season and returned it to the Buffalo 12, New England ran the ball four straight times and turned the ball over on downs, not even attempting a chip shot.
To be fair, Buffalo was up against it. Already plagued by injuries, the Bills lost two more of their most valuable players in quarterback J.P. Losman on the game's first play from scrimmage, and their stud rookie linebacker Paul Posluszny, who today was put on injured reserve with a broken forearm.
Even with Losman out of the game, Buffalo kept it close early. The Bills defense kept New England out of the end zone after the Patriots recovered Losman's fumble when he was injured. Following Stephen Gostkowski's field goal, Buffalo rode Lynch to paydirt and took a surprising 7-3 lead.
Meanwhile the Patriots shot themselves in the foot a few times, and when Tom Brady fumbled inside the Buffalo 1, it looked like the Bills might pull a monumental upset.
But momentum swung quickly and never swung again. New England's defense nearly forced a safety and kept Buffalo pinned on the 1. Brian Moorman made an incredible 75-yard punt from deep in his own end zone, but that was the last highlight of the day for the visitors.
Six plays later, including four Sammy Morris rushes, and the rout was on. New England scored a pair of touchdowns on sub-3-minute drives, and by halftime, the game effectively was over.
Brady finished with 311 yards and 4 touchdowns on 23 of 29 passing (79.3 percent) and a passer rating of 150.9. For the season, Brady is 70 of 88 passing (79.5 percent) for 887 yards, 10 touchdowns, 1 interception, and a passer rating of 141.8.
Brady's sudden appearance at the top of most passing categories is greatly due to a new and dramatically improved receiving corps led by Randy Moss, who has 22 receptions for 403 yards (18.3 avg) and 5 touchdowns. Wes Welker has 2 fewer receptions, giving New England two top-10 receivers.
Laurence Maroney topped 5 yards per carry for the second straight week, accumulating 103 yards on 19 attempts (5.4 avg), and Morris added 46 yards on 12 carries. Brady's mind-boggling numbers may lead some to believe that New England threw all day, but the Patriots actually ran the ball 9 times more for 177 yards and a 4.7 average.
The defense had another spectacular overall game, and Jarvis Green continues to prove he could start anywhere else in the league. While Pro Bowler defensive tackle Richard Seymour is eligible to return after Week 6, don't be surprised if New England keeps him on the sideline until he's absolutely 100 percent healthy. Green tallied 3 solo tackles and an assist with a sack and a fumble recovery.
Likewise, linebacker Junior Seau, who is tied with Eugene Wilson for the team lead in solo tackles with 12, showed that his 38-year-old body is far from slowing down. Like last week when he tracked San Diego's LaDanian Tomlinson, Seau hawked the ball all over the field and has shown tremendous leadership in the absence of Seymour and safety Rodney Harrison.
All five of New England's top linebackers were in the top seven tacklers Sunday, led by Adalius Thomas who has proven what was previously believed to be a spectacular free-agent signing. Thomas led the team with 7 solo tackles and 2 assists, followed by Rosevelt Colvin (4 solo, 3 assists) and Mike Vrabel (3 solo, 3 assists). Seau was fifth on the team Sunday and Bruschi was seventh with 3 solo tackles and an assist.
That's a far cry from last season when the defensive backs were making a lot of tackles, especially when there were injuries in the front seven.
And More Stats
Lynch, who had 44 yards on 14 carries in the first half, ran just 6 times in the final 30 minutes and picked up just 30 yards more. Roscoe Parrish and Josh Reed both caught a pair of passes for 27 yards each. Four Bills receivers caught 2 passes each to tie for the team lead.
Moorman punted 7 times for an amazing 49.0 average.
Buffalo led the first quarter in time of possession, 7:54 to 7:06, and led midway through the second quarter, until New England took over. The Patriots owned a 34:19 to 25:41 advantage at game's end.
Patriots opponents have reached the red zone just 5 times all season, but they have scored a touchdown each time. The Patriots were just 4 of 7 in the red zone Sunday. There were also just 4 of 10 on third down and just 1 of 3 on fourth; but they notched 27 first downs to Buffalo's 12.
With the Patriots 3-0 after Week 3, they will finish ...
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7-9 or worse