The New England Patriots remain well-positioned in the race for a first-round playoff bye thanks to their 24-12 victory over the visiting Buffalo Bills on Sunday. The game saw New England produce multiple big plays, and head coach Bill Belichick recently joined voice of the Patriots Bob Socci in breaking down nine of them.
2-5-50 (10:16) C.Patterson right end to BUF 38 for 12 yards (L.Wallace; S.Lawson).
“We got off to a pretty good start here in the running game,” said Belichick about the first play he and Socci look at: a 12-yard speed sweep by Cordarrelle Patterson. New England’s coach particularly praised the downfield blocking by wide receivers Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan, who were able to clear the path for Patterson and put him in a favorable one-on-one matchup. “I thought our receivers did an excellent job of blocking against the Bills,” Belichick said about the job done by Edelman, Hogan and company and how it contributed to the Patriots rushing for 275 yards on 45 non-kneel down carries.
1-10-BUF 38 (9:35) S.Michel left tackle to BUF 19 for 19 yards (T.White).
Belichick and Socci then went on to analyze the Patriots’ very next play, another successfully executed run. “The play starts off as an isolation play to the offense’s right,” the coach said about the 19-yard cut-back run by rookie Sony Michel. “That gets the linebackers to step in here.”
Again, Belichick went on to point out how the downfield blocks helped spring the run, especially those by tight end Dwayne Allen and the aforementioned Edelman on Bills safety Jordan Poyer. “Well-blocked play and Sony does a great job of picking up extra yards.”
3-2-BUF 27 (10:09) J.White left tackle for 27 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
“This is off the speed-sweep action,” Belichick said about James White’s 27-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. “Patterson’s coming across here and I think that gets the defense to widen a little bit and also pull a little attention here to the outside.” The coach then goes on to highlight how the blocking up front also helped create space for the running back:
Belichick mentioned how the double-team block by Trent Brown and Joe Thuney played a big role, as did Rob Gronkowski keeping the edge intact and Shaq Mason pulling across the formation.
3-10-NE 23 (10:16) (Shotgun) J.Allen pass incomplete deep right to I.McKenzie [K.Van Noy].
Next up, Belichick and Socci took a look at the defensive side of the ball and a third down stop early in the third quarter. “One of the main focuses of playing against the Bills is being able to handle [Josh] Allen,” Belichick said about his team’s defensive game plan. The rookie is the NFL’s most productive quarterback on scrambles, and on this particular play Trey Flowers and Kyle Van Noy are able to recover quickly as Allen attempts to break to the outside.
4-4-BUF 32 (5:14) (Shotgun) T.Brady pass short right to J.Edelman for 32 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
The Patriots’ third touchdown of the day came on a fourth down conversion, and Belichick started off by explaining that the wind was the reason behind the Patriots going for it instead of attempting a 51-yard field goal up by eight points. The play itself started with the Patriots in a trips set to the right and Belichick pointed out how some quick movement by Phillip Dorsett helped create space for Julian Edelman in the middle of the field. “Little short motion here just to get the corner [...] out of the way.” Belichick went on to praise Edelman for his toughness and awareness of keeping the play alive through Buffalo’s tackle attempt and ultimately reaching the end zone.
3-7-BUF 11 (11:11) (Shotgun) J.Allen pass incomplete deep left to Z.Jones [T.Flowers].
“I thought our coverage was good all day,” said Belichick about another Patriots third down stop, this one coming in the early fourth quarter. He pointed out how the pass rushers were able to keep the pocket tight and force Josh Allen to throw the ball away. Belichick also noted how the team’s performance on third and fourth down — Buffalo converted just two of a combined 13 attempts — played a big role in the Patriots holding the advantage when it came to time of possession.
4-7-BUF 11 (11:06) M.Darr punts 38 yards to BUF 49, Center-R.Ferguson. J.Edelman pushed ob at BUF 24 for 25 yards (J.Croom)
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Belichick breakdown without at least one special teams play. This week’s came in the fourth quarter after Allen’s third down completion that was looked at one play earlier. “I think this is something that really not a lot of people appreciate,” Belichick said about his team’s rush on the play. The coach especially pointed out how Adam Butler was able to occupy two players thanks to an aggressive up-field push. “That’s two guys that aren’t covering.”
4-12-BUF 23 (6:48) M.Darr punts 10 yards to BUF 33, Center-R.Ferguson, downed by BUF-D.Lacey. Punt partially blocked by NE 18-Slater
Next up was a partial punt block by special teams ace Matthew Slater, that limited the kick to a net gain of just 10 yards and subsequently gave the offense terrific field position. “Two very experienced players here with Nate Ebner and Matt Slater, being able to hear the personal protector’s calls on the protection and trying to disguise what we’re doing, trying to force a tough communication,” Belichick said about the play. As a result of stressing the communication, Slater was able to get through the line of scrimmage virtually unblocked.
2-10-BUF 48 (4:07) (Shotgun) J.Allen pass short right intended for I.McKenzie INTERCEPTED by J.McCourty at NE 39. J.McCourty ran ob at NE 39 for no gain.
The final play Belichick took a look at was a fourth quarter interception by cornerback Jason McCourty. “An excellent play by Jason McCourty,” he said about the pick. “Good awareness, undercuts it, goes up, makes an excellent play on the ball, high-points it, both feet in bounds, great catch.” Belichick also noted how the Patriots were playing tight coverage across the board and how the pass rush forced Allen into a quick and ultimately bad throw.
To watch the clip of Belichick breaking down those nine plays, please visit patriots.com.