LeGarrette Blount ran for 189 yards and two touchdowns to go along with back breaking kickoff returns of 83 and 62 yards to lead the Patriots to a 34-20 victory over the Bills at rainy Gillette Stadium. Thad Lewis completed an 80 yard scoring drive with a 12 yard touchdown pass to T.J. Graham to pull the Bills to within six late in the third quarter. Tom Brady would take advantage of Blount's first big return with a five yard scoring pass to Shane Vereen. It came one play after Marcell Dareus jumped offsides on a field goal attempt. Dareus was benched in the first half for violating team rules. The Bills responded to that score with a Fred Jackson six yard touchdown run but Blount's second big return followed that score and setup Stephen Gostkowski's fourth field goal of the game. The Bills could get nothing going offensively early after an opening possession 51 yard field goal by Dan Carpenter, he would add a 37 yarder late in the game. New England scored field goals on their first two possessions.
The Turning Point:
Blount's 83 yard kickoff return: The Bills just got themselves back in the game with their third quarter touchdown to pull within 16-10. The Patriots then returned the ensuing kickoff 83 yards to setup Brady's scoring pass to Vereen. The Pats would add the two point conversion wrapping up the game.
The Big Drive:
New England's First TD: They went 94 yards in just 7 plays and took only 2:49 to Blount's 36 yard scoring run. Blount also had runs of 14 and 9 yards while Ridley added a 9 yard run on the drive.
Stat I Did Like:
Pats Passing Yards: The weather and the running game had a lot to do with it but New England had just 115 yards passing.
Stat I Didn't Like:
1st Half Rushing: Pats ran for 173 yards in the first half alone and finished with 267 yards on the ground.
Quick Slants: - The game was played in a steady rain, the field was not covered by a tarp before the game but the grass field seemed to hold up well. - With Cincinnati and Indianapolis winning, the Patriots needed to beat the Bills to get the coveted first round bye. They are the #2 seed in the AFC. - The Bills will pick 9th overall in the draft with today's loss and wins by the Giants and Titans. - The Bills wrapped up last place in the AFC East before they took the field after the Jets beat the Dolphins. - The Bills 2014 opponents are set besides the home and away against the division they will travel to Denver, Oakland, Chicago, Detroit, and Houston. They will host Kansas City, San Diego, Green Bay, Minnesota, and Cleveland. -Marcell Dareus sat out the first half for violating team rules after missing the first quarter last week for violating rules. Reports say he was late to a meeting on Monday after being benched for the same reason.
Key Matchup Results:
The winners of the battles highlighted in our preview article: RB Fred Jackson vs. LB Brandon Spikes: Winner: Jackson. The Bills workhorse made some big plays to keep the Bills in the game. LT Cordy Glenn vs. DE Chandler Jones: Winner: Glenn. Jones was a non factor. DT Kyle Williams vs. LG Logan Mankins: Winner: Mankins. He left with an injury but the Patriots ran it at will in the middle of the field. CB Stephon Gilmore vs. WR Julian Edelman: Winner: Edelman. He had another huge day catching nine of Brady's 14 completions for 65 yards.
Keys To The Game Results:
How the keys highlighted in our preview article turned out: 1. Pressure Brady: Failure! The solid running game of the Pats kept the Bills from teeing off on the passing game. They only had one sack and they didn't frazzle Brady. 2. Build On Defensive Momentum: Failure! The Patriots only scored two touchdowns but they moved the ball at will on the ground. 3. Win The Turnover Battle: Success! The Patriots did fumble the ball four times but recovered it each time. Manny Lawson had the only turnover of the game with an interception late in the game.
The weather was awful so all the talk about EJ Manuel needing to play was pointless because the conditions made the offense anemic most of the game no matter who the quarterback was. Another loss at Gillette Stadium is something we are used to especially when this game was so important for the Patriots. What isn't the norm for this series was how the Patriots dominated the line of scrimmage and ran the ball down the Bills throats. Losing to them was no disgrace but getting beat up on the ground was embarrassing. To their credit they didn't run for the bus in the horrific weather, they battled throughout but Blount single-handedly beat them down as a running back and a returner. Another long offseason of changes are ahead but not quite the upheaval they had last year so hopefully some consistently will allow them to build on what was successful this season.
The long offseason as the Bills try will analyze everything to see what changes are needed to finally end this 14 year playoff drought.
C.J. Spiller - He had 105 yards rushing and 133 yards total on 24 touches.
Fred Jackson - Had 113 total yards and a touchdown.
Manny Lawson - Had a sack and an interception.
Marcell Dareus - Getting benched for a second week in a row is a problem. Jumping offsides on a field goal attempt was really dumb.
Danny Crossman - The special teams coordinator needs to be fired. Another special teams gaffe cost the team a chance at the win. Giving up the 83 yard kickoff return is unacceptable, giving up a 62 yarder on the next return is pathetic.
Defensive Front Seven - Gave up 267 yards rushing as they ran through the middle of the Bills defense like a knife through butter.