The Buffalo Bills scored 19 unanswered points in the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots in week two, making a convincing blowout a tightly contested divisional game. Ultimately, Buffalo's run was too little, too late as the Patriots held on for a 40-32 victory.
The win pushes the Patriots to 2-0 on the season, and 1-0 in the division. Five things we learned from the game:
Patriots are still kings of the AFC East. The final differential in this one may have been just eight points, but the Patriots dominated large portions of this contest. The Bills rode an emotional high at the start of the game, marching 80 yards down the field on an eight play opening drive and then forcing the Patriots to a three and out. From that point on, it was all Patriots until the waning moments of the game. The Patriots' young interior offensive line did an excellent job on the Bills' terrific front. Tom Brady was on fire. The Patriots used all of the tight ends. And Tyrod Taylor never had a chance when the Patriots were on defense - getting sacked eight times and throwing three interceptions. It also did not help that the Bills committed two touchdowns worth of penalties - 14.
The Bills showed some great fight by getting back into this game late, but if we learned one thing on Sunday, it's this: the Patriots are the team to beat in the AFC East.
Tom Brady is still on a tear. The Patriots had 507 total yards of offense on Sunday, and most of those could be attributed to quarterback Tom Brady. Brady was on fire all game, delivering laser after laser to Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. He finished with 466 yards through the air and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Aaron Dobson may have also had his best game as a pro, catching seven passes for 87 yards, and looking very competent while doing so.
Following Brady's dominating performance against the Steelers and going into a hostile environment in Buffalo, you might have thought Brady would have been in for a slight letdown. That was not the case, as Brady looks like he will quickly emerge as an early-season MVP candidate.
Dion Lewis is more than just a passing back. The Patriots went with a pass heavy attack, throwing the ball 59 times against the Bills. Nonetheless, Lewis showed that he has the ability to be an every down back for the Patriots. Early in the game, the Patriots used Lewis in the red zone significantly more than LeGarrette Blount. Blount will be the go-to-back when the Patriots need a yard or two, but Lewis can clearly handle a heavy workload. There were many times in this game when it seemed Lewis would be bottled up for a gain of just a yard or two, and he managed to escape for a longer scamper and a first down. He finished with 40 yards on seven carries with a touchdown, and was also the team's second leading receiver with 98 yards on six catches.
Lewis did also have his second fumble in two games, so that will be a situation to monitor going forward.
Patriots front seven can still be dominating. On the first drive of the game, the New England front seven was completely dominated. They were pushed around at will by the Bills' offensive line, and it looked like it may have been a long day for the unit. It's hard to say exactly what the coaching staff said to the front seven following that first drive, but they absolutely dominated at the point of attack from that point on. Chandler Jones had three sacks. Jamie Collins was all over the field. Rob Ninkovich was active. Alan Branch showed up with a strip sack. The Patriots will be able to overcome some inconsistencies in the secondary if the front seven can dominate like they did against the Bills.
Bradley Fletcher a major liability in the defensive backfield. Bradley Fletcher was beat deep against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and was victimized multiple times in this area against the Bills. In the first half, he committed a costly pass interference call near the end zone on a play that temporarily handed the Bills momentum. During the Bills fourth quarter surge, he was absolutely toasted by Sammy Watkins off the release for a long score. When Bradley Fletcher is in the game, teams will challenge him deep. It is and will continue to be a problem for the Patriots.