The Patriots avenged a 16-0 loss to the Bills in Week 4 with a great offensive performance and a solid defensive performance. The Bills came into the game very banged up on both sides of the ball and the Patriots took advantage. Overall, the game was more lopsided than the final score as the Bills scored in the final minute with the Patriots up 41-17.
Gronk sets the Patriots franchise TD record: The Patriots opened up the scoring with a TD pass to the big TE, which broke Stanley Morgan’s franchise record for TDs. Morgan played 180 games for the Patriots, Gronkowski just finished his 86. The rapid pace that Gronk is accumulating TDs is very impressive and whatever number he finishes with could be a long-standing franchise record. Gronk was a big factor for the Patriots offense as he picked up 5 catches for 109 yards and that score. The Patriots TE is averaging well over 100 yards since Week 5.
Hogan roasts former teammates: Chris Hogan also had a very solid game, although his offensive output was primarily the first half. Hogan had 4 grabs for 91 yards, including a 53-yard catch on a defensive breakdown in the first quarter. Hogan has been a reliable deep threat with 5 catches of 35 or more yards already. That is more catches for that distance than his entire career in Buffalo. Hogan is the 4th option in this offense, so to see him have this type of impact early is very encouraging.
Another MVP level performance by Brady: The Bills did a good job of scheming against Brady early on and were able to generate pressure on him all day. Brady was able to shake off the pressure, as he completed 22 of 33 passes for 315 yards and 4 TDs. Brady was able to orchestrate 7 scoring drives (5 TD, 2 FG) and was able to spread the wealth around as he completed each TD to a different receiver. Brady had a passer rating of 137.0 for the game, which should raise his astonishing 132.6 rating coming into the game.
Gostkowski back on track: This was a tough game for the Patriots kicker to execute in with early rain and swirling winds all day. Buffalo is a tough environment to kick in. Gostkowski nailed all 7 kicks, including a big 51-yarder to close the first half. With high expectations and the recent panic over him missing a couple PATs, it was a nice sign to see him make all his kicks today. Hopefully he’s back to his automatic self by the time the playoffs roll along.
Tackling was an issue: The rain could have been a factor, but tackling in every phase of the game was subpar. As the Patriots move down the homestretch, the tackling needs to improve on both defense and special teams. I don’t think it’s a long term issue because the Patriots have been very good at tackling all season. The Patriots should address the issue during the bye week though just to make sure they don’t have a game like this again.
Officiating was terrible: This game had a lot of ticky-tack fouls called on both teams and a lot of penalties that should have been called that were missed. The referees missed a face mask by Bills center Eric Wood on Tyrod Taylor’s 4th down TD run and there were a couple PI fouls on Eric Rowe that shouldn’t have been called. John Parry’s crew typically calls a tight game, but they were inconsistent in this game. The Patriots did a good job of keeping the game out of the officials hands though as they were able to push a big lead early in the 3rd quarter.