With the draft officially in the rearview mirror and not all that much going on between now and the start of training camp, look for me to make a more serious dent in the Top 20 Most Memorable Patriots Moments of 2015. With the news cycle likely to die down over the next six weeks or so, it should give us ample time to look back on the season that was and enjoy another successful run.
The list so far:
20. In the span of two weeks, the Patriots make two trades to acquire and .
19. A decision to kick in OT backfires as the Jets beat the Patriots in Week 16.
18. Otherwordly phenom and greatest player of all time J.J. Watt is held completely ineffective as the Patriots secure a playoff spot against the Houston Texans.
17. Chandler Jones and Akiem Hicks team up for a strip sack touchdown against the Tennessee Titans.
16. Stopped in the backfield, LeGarrette Blount sheds tacklers and rumbles for a 17 yard gain against the Houston Texans.
15. Danny Amendola and Tom Brady connect for some trickery against the Philadelphia Eagles.
14. The Patriots continue to kick in Rex Ryan's world with a season sweep of the Buffalo Bills.
Monday, November 23rd came around with the Patriots sitting pretty at 9-0, having just come off a huge win against the New York Giants. The 5-4 Bills had just secured a win of their own, a Thursday night victory over the Jets that followed another big win over the Dolphins the week to gain some momentum in the division. The Bills were also fresh off a mini-bye with the Thursday night game, whereas the Patriots had to grind down to the very last second of the Giants game and were getting more and more banged up by the minute, adding Julian Edelman to the rapidly growing list of fallen soldiers. So while the Bills weren't favored - the game was at Gillette, after all - New England was certainly vulnerable, and an upset wasn't out of the question.
Edelman's loss was palpable as the offense struggled to score points, generating only a field goal in the first quarter. A missed Bills attempt in the 2nd gave the Patriots great field position, and Tommy B was able to put together a six play, 62 yard drive that ended with a 20 yard completion and scamper into the end zone by James White as the half came to a close.
Unfortunately, the Patriots opening possession of the 3rd quarter ended with a missed FG of their own Ghost's first miss in almost a full calendar year - and Buffalo was able to answer with a TD of their own off of a 27 yard LeSean McCoy run to tie the game at 10. The teams traded three and outs on their next two possessions before Tommy B found Danny Amendola (who had a huge game) for a 41 yard catch and run that White was able to punch into the end zone for his second score of the day. New England would tack on another field goal late in the 3rd to essentially put the game out of reach as the Bills were unable to get anything going offensively, primarily due to another stellar day from the New England D. The final score of 20-13 moved the Patriots to 10-0 and completed the season sweep of the Bills.
As far as games go, this one was somewhat lackluster; the offense flashed at times, but sputtered overall, and Amendola was the only Patriot to impress on the stat sheet. It was also a game of extremely sloppy reffing; the crew was quite flag-happy, and a premature whistle negated what could have been a Brady to Amendola TD. However, the defense remained solid, the team made the plays they needed to make, and once again Rex Ryan, who has made quite a career for himself chasing after Belichick the way that Ahab chased the white whale, found himself on the losing end of two games in one season. For all the hype and hoopla surrounding Buffalo this offseason (including a bold prediction from yours truly about how good the Bills were going to be), to see them once again looking up at the kings of the division as they dropped another two games to the Patriots is always satisfying. This one also put the Patriots into the 10 win category for the 13th consecutive year and all but guaranteed them the AFC East. The Bills were the only divisional foe the Patriots swept in 2015, and given the personality of their head coach, that's just fine with me.
Game highlights here.