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Patriots-Bills: 6 observations from New England’s 23-3 win against Buffalo

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Here’s instant analysis of the Patriots victory.

NFL: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots defeated the Buffalo Bills 23-3 on Sunday to move to 10-2. Here are our takeaways from the game.

Tom Brady had a quiet day in the office

Brady finished the game 21 of 30 (70%) for 258 yards, 0 touchdowns and 1 interception that wasn’t really his fault for a passer rating of 82.4. The Bills cornerback was clearly holding and interfering with Rob Gronkowski, but since Gronkowski plays by a different rule of contact, the officials ignored it.

Brady was clearly frustrated in the first half and failed to get his wide receivers involved for much of the game, missing out on a wide open Brandin Cooks early in the first half, leading to the following exchange with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels:

Angry Brady made an appearance in the third quarter, but he failed to record a touchdown pass. He stepped up to the occasion on third down, but he wasn’t needed because...

The Bills couldn’t stop the run

The Patriots copied the game plan by the New York Jets, New Orleans Saints, and Los Angeles Chargers, the teams that averaged 213 rushing yards per game during the Bills three-game skid. The Patriots gained 191 yards on the ground, their second-straight week of rushing for 190+ yards, and the Bills had no answer.

Dion Lewis gained 92 yards on 15 carries (6.1 YPC). Rex Burkhead gained 78 yards and 2 touchdowns on 12 carries (6.5 YPC). James White added 18 yards on 5 carries and Brandin Cooks ran for 5 yards on 1 carry. This Patriots ground game is seriously impressive.

It also didn’t hurt that Burkhead and White combined for 57 yards on 7 receptions, too.

Eric Lee is the best player in the NFL

Lee finished the game with 1.5 sacks, a quarterback hit, a tackle for loss, an interception, and another pass defended. I’m also going to assume that he drew up the Patriots defensive game plan, runs a sub-4 minute mile, and granted eight wishes by the Make-A-Wish foundation over halftime because this guy did it ALL.

CBS commentator Tony Romo was loving Lee the entire game and for good reason. He was disruptive, he was showing great effort, and he was a part of every big play. It looks like New England added a good player late in the season.

The Patriots secondary was outstanding

Bills quarterbacks combined for 15 completions on 34 attempts (44%) for 115 yards and one interception. Zay Jones led the Bills with 22 yards on 2 receptions as Stephon Gilmore erased him from the game (one of those completions was pure luck after Gilmore knocked it away). Deonte Thompson had 21 yards on 2 catches against Malcolm Butler. Charles Clay had 20 yards on 3 catches against Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty.

Jordan Matthews had a mere 14 yards on 1 catch in the slot against Jonathan Jones. LeSean McCoy had just 9 yards receiving. The Buffalo passing attack isn’t great, but the Patriots should take a bow.

Stephen Gostkowski is a hero

Gostkowski hit three field goals in the first half, from 50-, 31-, and 39-yards out and also hit both of his extra point attempts. He did a great job, as always, with the placement on his kickoffs. He didn’t need to do much work in the second half, but he is a huge part of why the Patriots were ahead in the first half and in position to pull away in the second half.

Gostkowski deserves a ton of props for having yet another fantastic season.

Patriots were sloppy with penalties

The Patriots were flagged for 9 accepted penalties for 66 yards. They had two unnecessary roughness penalties and a facemask penalty offset. Most of the errors were mental. There were false starts galore and Nate Solder was hit for a block in the back that was entirely unnecessary.

After a few weeks of solid play without many mental errors, the Patriots apparently cashed in on all of their mistakes in the span of four quarters.