The first half of this matchup between Buffalo and New England was boring, to say the least. Neither team was able to muster up a touchdown and many incomplete passes were interspersed with penalties on both sides. In the end, the Patriots were able to wake up and play a more energetic game, pulling away at the very end for a final score of 25-6. A handful of players on the defense and offense were able to control the game, thus securing New England’s win.
James White and Devin McCourty
While these two players have very little in common, they do share one quality: the ability to make plays at crucial times. James White finished the game with 8 runs for 15 yards, 10 receptions for 79 yards, and 1 touchdown. White was responsible for multiple first down conversions and repeatedly kickstarted the offense as they began to drift into complacency. His touchdown (the first of the game for either team) came shortly into the fourth quarter. Devin McCourty, on the other hand, had the best play of the game. With 6:08 left in the game, Bill’s quarterback Derek Anderson threw a perfect pass to McCourty, who ran the ball in for a pick-6. This was the first defensive touchdown for New England in 40 years. The 84 yard touchdown iced the game for the Patriots and paved their way to victory.
The truly underrated backbone of New England’s team: Stephen Gostkowski. The field goal kicker/punter had 11 out of the team’s 25 points (44%). While Gostkowski’s role goes unnoticed by fans/critics most of the time, in this scenario he was their lifeline. He made 3 out of 4 field goal attempts, and no one can blame him for the one he missed. The wind averaged 16 mph and blew the football from one end of the goal to the other. Any number of kickers would have missed that kick, but he didn’t let this shake him. Gostkowski went on to make both extra point kicks, continually proving he is a valuable part of the offense.
Trey Flowers proved himself yet again to be a vital part of the Patriots defensive line. On more than one occasion, he could be seen tackling running backs behind the line of scrimmage, and forcing Buffalo to punt. Flowers had 6 tackles, 2 quarterback hits, 2 tackles for loss, and 1 pass defended. Two incredible back to back plays by the defensive end took place at the end of the first quarter. First, Flowers found a running back in the backfield and held onto him for dear life, ending his run with a loss of yardage. On the following play, Flowers blocked a pass right as the Bill’s quarterback threw the ball. This forced 3 and 13 for the Bills who couldn’t convert, and had to punt. The defensive end did an impressive job stopping any forward progress by the other team.
Red Zone Offense
New England didn’t score their first touchdown until there was 9:58 left in the fourth quarter. Any time the squad got to first and goal, they choked. Brady couldn’t complete a pass, the receivers weren’t in position, and the running back’s couldn’t find routes. The offensive line fell apart and they simply couldn’t score points. Hopefully this was merely a bad game for the red zone offense, but harder games are on the horizon and this kind of inefficiency has to be fixed.
While the penalties in this game weren’t nearly as horrific as the ones last week against the Bears, New England still has work to do. LaAdrian Waddle was responsible for 2 of the teams 5 penalties. They were careless mistakes. Both calls were for holding and as a professional athlete, this simply can’t happen. Excuses can’t be made for easy-to-avoid mistakes.
Similar to Waddle, Elandon Roberts had one standout play that landed him on this list. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Roberts almost had an interception. Rephrase: Jonathan Jones almost had an interception, until Roberts got in the way. Both players went for the easy interception, but Roberts should have known to let Jones catch it. The cornerback had a better chance at catching it than the linebacker would have. While he deserves credit for trying, it’s all a matter of what’s best for the team.
This Sunday pits the Patriots against the Packers. While both teams have strong quarterbacks, a weak Green Bay offensive line will meet its match against the coin-flip New England defense. All areas of these teams are prepared for a fight; a great game is in store.
-Caitlyn Allen is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media and covers the New England Patriots. Follow her on Twitter @caitlyyyn_allen