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Patriots 25, Bills 6: 10 quick thoughts from win on Monday night

Ryan Hannable
October 29, 2018 - 11:29 pm
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In one of the uglier games of the season, the Patriots were able to pull out a 25-6 win in Buffalo against the Bills on Monday night.

It was all field goals until James White had a 1-yard touchdown run with 9:58 remaining in the game. Devin McCourty sealed the deal with a 84-yard interception returned for a touchdown on the following Bills possession, while Stephen Gostkowski added four field goals in the win.

The Bills defense was able to frustrate Tom Brady and the Patriots offense for the majority of the game, but its offense is one of the worst in the entire NFL, so it wasn't able to take advantage.

As always, it’s good to win on the road and in the division, but the Patriots will need to be better next Sunday night when Green Bay invades Foxboro.

Here are 10 quick thoughts from the win.

1. Give the Bills defense credit, it made things extremely difficult for the Patriots offense as it had to earn every yard. This shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise, though. Going into the game, the Bills ranked third against the pass and fourth in total defense. Buffalo has a very physical defense and it showed on Monday with several big hits. It also made Brady uncomfortable in the pocket at times and forced some poor throws. On the other side of the ball, no matter how bad the Buffalo offense is, the Patriots defense deserves credit for not allowing a touchdown on the road.

2. Brady finished the game 29-for-45 with 324 yards and no touchdowns and no interceptions. Brady's 45 pass attempts were the most he's had in a regular-season game since Week 8 of last year against the Chargers when he had 47. While the 41-year-old had over 300 yards passing, it wasn't a vintage Brady performance by any means. He had several plays where he missed throws and reads, but he deserves credit for making the throws when he needed them most, including on some big third-down plays.

3. Without Sony Michel and going into the game with just two active running backs, the team used some unique sets on offense. Cordarrelle Patterson saw a number of snaps in the back field as a running back, including starting the game. He wasn’t the only one to line up in some different spots, as Rob Gronkowski lined up all over and there was one play where Chris Hogan lined up as a tight end. It seems sometimes this is unnecessary and the Patriots don’t need to get cute to beat teams like the Bills. Patterson was the leading rusher with 38 yards.

4. Buffalo started the game with a number of Wildcat formations with LeSean McCoy in the backfield and credit the Patriots defense for defending them and not getting caught off guard. There were several trick plays in the first half, and a few in the second half, as the Bills looked to get its offense jump started, but the Patriots did not allow it to happen. This wasn’t much of a surprise considering where the Bills currently are in the standings and the state of their offense.

5. Brady relied heavily on Julian Edelman and James White in the game, as the quarterback was 19-for-23 with 183 yards when targeting those two. It was easily Edelman's best game since returning from his ACL tear and four-game suspension. He had nine receptions for 104 yards and was targeted on a number of big third down plays. White was once again Brady's safety valve and came up big when he needed to, including some big runs after the catch. Once again, White is proving just how good he is.

6. Trey Flowers may be one of the most underrated players in the entire league, as he’s been arguably the best player on the Patriots defense all year long. Flowers disrupted a number of plays in the game and did a fabulous job in setting the edge, not letting McCoy get outside. He will be a free agent after the year and will certainly be high in demand across the league.

7. The Bills did a solid job in defending Gronkowski. The Patriots tight end finished with three catches for 43 yards. Buffalo was very physical with him and he wasn't able to get much separation. Coming into the game, Gronkowski had 44 receptions for 730 yards and seven touchdowns in seven career appearances against the Bills on the road, so this was a big change from the norm. It also seemed like the Patriots held Gronkowski in to block on a few more plays than usual. It's fair to say Gronkowski hasn't been the dominant player this year like we've seen in the past, which could be due to a number of different factors, including injury.

8. Once again, New England left plenty of points on the field and it starts with going just 1-for-3 in the red zone. This will be something Brady and the coaching staff point to, as facing teams like the Packers next week, they cannot to afford to miss out on scoring opportunities.

9. With Dont’a Hightower missing the game with a knee injury, Elandon Roberts saw more time in the middle of the defense along with Kyle Van Noy. John Simon replaced Van Noy on the edge. Roberts left the game with a groin injury and was replaced by Nicholas Grigsby until he was able to return in the second half. The Patriots could afford to lose Hightower for this game with how bad the Bills offense is. That won’t be the case next week against Green Bay. Also, Shaq Mason left the game with a hip injury and did not return.

10. It was reported earlier in the day Josh Gordon would be disciplined for tardiness in the game, which would likely be a few misses series. But, that wasn’t the case as Gordon started the game at receiver and didn’t appear to have his snaps taken away in any way. This story will likely continue after the game, especially with Tuesday being the NFL trade deadline and the Patriots being connected to a few receivers.

The last time the Patriots failed to score a touchdown through three quarters in a game in which Brady played the entire time was 2012 -- Week 2 vs. the Cardinals (lost 20-18).

Related: Josh Gordon starts game despite reportedly being disciplined

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