Four weeks removed from a 16-0 shutout loss at Gillette Stadium, the New England Patriots handed the Buffalo Bills a 41-25 defeat at New Era Field on Sunday afternoon.
Aside from the rain, the second encounter couldn’t have been any more distant from the first.
That was reflected in the numbers game.
Tom Brady wasn’t on the field last time around against Buffalo, but he made sure that the Bills covered “every blade of grass” this time. And that was evident as early as New England’s opening drive, which saw the 39-year-old quarterback complete seven passes to six different receivers. All six receivers would go on to finish the game with multiple receptions.
Brady found four different targets for touchdowns as well. The first of which was Danny Amendola, who collected a nine-yard strike on the offense’s initial drive. That touchdown would check in as the wideout’s third of the season, which ties his career-best from 2015, 2012 and 2010. Amendola has eight games to eclipse it.
Amendola also made a splash in the kicking game, setting the Patriots up with a 73-yard runback to begin the second half. It stood as the third-longest kickoff return of Amendola’s career, behind an 81-yarder in 2014 and an 84-yarder in 2010.
Wideout Chris Hogan and tight end Rob Gronkowski combined for zero receptions when Buffalo came to Foxborough on Oct. 2. But the ex-Bill and the Buffalo native would fare better on Sunday. Hogan snared four passes for 91 yards and a touchdown, while an unabated Gronkowski reeled in five passes for 109 yards and a momentous TD of his own.
On his 53-yard touchdown, Gronkowski surpassed Stanley Morgan for the most touchdowns in Patriots history with No. 69. And, for what it is worth, that also happened to be New England’s third-down conversion rate versus the Bills – 9-of-13. To put the latter in perspective, the Patriots went 1-of-12 on third down against the Bills earlier in the month.
A year after Julian Edelman set a career-high with seven touchdown receptions in only nine games, the wideout was still without one entering Sunday. A minute into the third quarter, though, that changed. It was then that Edelman took a quick screen 12 yards, stretching across the goal line for his first touchdown of the season.
It’s Brady’s digits, and it’s also the number of touchdown passes he has thrown through 16 quarters of football this season. Brady is on pace to throw 36 touchdowns despite his four-game absence to begin the year, which would be as many as he notched all of last year.
LeGarrette Blount would be kept in check by the Bills’ defensive front. The 6-foot, 250-pound running back would not, however, be kept out of the end zone. Late in the third quarter, Blount hammered through for his ninth touchdown of the campaign, which extended his career-high. Only once has Blount gone without a touchdown this season, and it was Week 4 against Buffalo.
The Patriots have tallied 81 points over the last two trips to Orchard Park, winning by a score of 40-32 last season before putting up 41 on Sunday. In contrast, the Patriots scored only 20 points over the last two meetings with the Bills in Foxborough.
After going the first eight games of his NFL career without recording a sack, second-year defensive end Trey Flowers hit home for two against the Bills. Flowers brought down quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel for a total loss of nine yards.
After catching seven passes for 89 yards against the Patriots on Oct. 2, Bills wideout Robert Woods was kept out of the stat sheet until 3:05 to go in the third quarter on Sunday. Woods, who is dealing with a foot injury, finished with 50 receiving yards on four grabs.
The Bills’ backfield was without LeSean McCoy, but not without rushing lanes. Running back Mike Gillislee led the charge with 85 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, while the team accounted for a total of 167 rushing yards on 26 carries. A 16-yarder from punter Colton Schmidt and a 26-yard fourth-down touchdown scamper from Tyrod Taylor were among them.
The Patriots and Bills collectively amassed 200 penalty yards on Sunday. New England was docked 116 yards on 10 flags, while Buffalo was docked 84 yards – and a timeout – on 12 flags.
Buffalo sacked the Patriots’ quarterbacks five times with five different players on Sunday. Brady was taken down four times, and during his relief appearance, Jimmy Garoppolo was thrown down once by Buffalo linebacker Zach Brown.
Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski went 2-for-2 on field goals and 5-for-5 on extra points against Buffalo. Included was a 51-yard attempt that banked in off the upright, but in less-than-ideal conditions, the team’s all-time scoring leader answered when called upon. Gostkowski had three missed field goals and two missed extra points on the season heading in.
It’s been eight games up and eight games down for the Patriots’ trio of quarterbacks. Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett and Brady have yet to throw an interception through 249 pass attempts. That matches a team record – which occurred in the second half of the 2010 season – but the league record to start a season without a pick is nine games. That was set by the 1960 Cleveland Browns.
Tying Brett Favre’s mark against the Detroit Lions, 26 is the number of wins the Brady-led Patriots have accumulated against the Bills. The Patriots have been dealt only three losses against Buffalo during his tenure under center.