1. Running up the score is a dumb argument.
The Patriots looked like they were en route to an easy victory as they opened up the fourth quarter ahead 37-13. Only one team in NFL history has come back from a 24 point fourth quarter deficit. The Bills made it a five point game with four minutes left in the game. The Patriots made bad decisions that allowed Buffalo back in the game, but no one should ever say that a team running up the score is unsportsmanlike.
2. The Patriots coaches let Rex Ryan under their skin and it almost cost them the game.
In the fourth quarter, with eight minutes left in the game, the Patriots led 37-19 and had a 4th and 1 from the Buffalo 41 yard line. The high percentage play would've been the quarterback sneak, of which Tom Brady is the best in the league. A good play would be to spread out the Bills defense and try and have Dion Lewis jump cut his way through. Another good play would be to run a few different players to the sticks and have one of them get open- the Bills weren't able to stop anything.
Instead, the Patriots ran a play where Dion Lewis was the primary target (who was covered) and then the next option was Julian Edelman streaking towards the end zone. Not a high percentage play at all. The Bills received the ball after a turnover on downs and scored a touchdown to close the game to 37-25.
The Patriots got the ball again with roughly 5 minutes left in the game and started throwing it. Three rushes could've drained either the Bills time outs or 2 minutes off the game clock. A first down could've helped end it. Instead, Brady was strip-sacked and the Bills scored in 15 seconds to close the game to 37-32.
While the Patriots game plan all night was to pass the ball against the defense, New England suffered from poor execution of situational football and it almost cost them the game. The play calling felt like the coaches wanted to bury the Bills instead of win the game.
3. And now Rex Ryan and the Bills lost their Super Bowl at home.
Regardless of how the end of the game played out, Rex Ryan hyped up his team and his top defense for a battle against the Patriots and Tom Brady led New England to 40 points. Rex and the Bills weren't able to back up their talk and now Buffalo is going to understand what Jets fans felt every time Rex let them down after his bravado fell short.
4. Quarterback Tom Brady is off to a historic start to the year.
Brady has 754 yards, 7 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Only one other quarter has opened up a season with better numbers over two games: Peyton Manning's 2013 season where he picked up 769 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. That's not a bad statistical goal.
5. Rex Ryan should know the name Dion Lewis, even if he pretends not to.
The Patriots running back picked up 138 yards from scrimmage (40 rushing, 98 receiving), a week after picking up 120 yards from scrimmage (69 rushing, 51 receiving) against the Steelers. Lewis' 258 yards from scrimmage are the fifth most in Patriots history after two games, behind Randy Moss's 288 yards in 2007, Ben Coates' 285 in 1994, Sam Cunningham's 275 in 1977, and Jim Nance's 266 in 1966.
6. Julian Edelman is still my breakout star, even if he had some drops.
Edelman saw 19 targets and reeled in 11 for 97 yards and two touchdowns. He should have had more, but for a couple bad drops throughout the game. Edelman also added a 12 yard scamper. This is the second straight week Edelman has collected 97 yards receiving on 11 targets and his 215 yards from scrimmage over two games is impressive in its own right. If Jules can clean up some of his sideline drops, he's a lock for 10 targets and 100 yards every single week.
7. Rob Gronkowski soy fiesta.
7 receptions, 113 yards, one touchdown. Ho hum for the Patriots tight end and even King Kong ain't got nothin' on him. He also blocked $100 million man Mario Williams one-on-one on the edge for Dion Lewis' touchdown run.
Gronk with a touchdown block. #Patriots https://t.co/fIT1mWRd9j— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) September 20, 2015
Gronk has been back as a receiver since the middle of last season, but if his run blocking returns to his 2011 level, then he's undeniably the most valuable offensive non-quarterback in the league and it's not even close.
8. Aaron Dobson took advantage of his opportunities.
I'm a believer in the idea that young wide receivers need repetitions and opportunities to thrive. Dobson saw two targets in the first half, before six in the second. Dobson converted for six first downs. While it's possible that Brandon LaFell will resume his role in the Patriots offense upon the return of his health, Dobson looks to be on his way to pick up where he ended his 2013 campaign. If Dobson can become the reliable third receiving option in the Patriots offense, behind Gronk and Edelman, he's able to stretch the field like no other player on the roster.
9. The Patriots pass rush was absolutely dominant.
Chandler Jones was huge. Jamie Collins was huge. The Patriots did a good job of stopping the Bills rushing attack and forcing the Bills to have to throw the ball. You could tell the exact drive in the third quarter when the Patriots stopping caring about containing Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor in the pocket and just decided to rush him and force him to panic.
1st and 10 at BUF 20
Tyrod Taylor Sacked by Alan Branch, 5 Yrd Loss, Tyrod Taylor Fumble, Tyrod Taylor 0 Yrd Fumble Recov
2nd and 15 at BUF 15
Tyrod Taylor Sacked by Jamie Collins, 0 Yrd Loss, Tyrod Taylor Fumble, LeSean McCoy 6 Yrd Fumble Rec
3rd and 9 at BUF 21
Tyrod Taylor Sacked by Chandler Jones For 11 Yrd Loss to BUF 10
Jabaal Sheard was great and Malcom Brown was involved. Rob Ninkovich, Alan Branch, and Sealver Siliga had their moments. This defensive front is going to be scary as they grow over the course of the season.
10. The secondary was great until they started playing prevent- and then they were gouged.
Tyrod Taylor picked up 107 passing yards and two touchdowns on his four biggest throws of the game, all in the fourth quarter. Bradley Fletcher was bad for the second straight week, proving incapable of covering receivers down the field. The Patriots need to find a way to reduce his snaps on the field because he's a definite liability.
Prior to the fourth quarter, the Patriots held Taylor to 17/22, 105 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions, 7 sacks, and 2 fumbles. Taylor more than doubled his passing yardage with 137 in the fourth quarter.
But outside of the poor execution at the end of the game (for the second straight week, so it deserves notice), Malcolm Butler and Tarell Brown were great and Devin McCourty made sure that the Bills receivers knew where he was on the field. Even Pat Chung was productive as Bills tight end Charles Clay was held to 19 yards and a touchdown on 3 receptions.