New England Patriots Game Report 1: At Buffalo

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Well, that’s one way to start a season. In dramatic fashion, the Patriots defeated the Bills 23-21 with Stephen Gostkowski hitting a field goal with :09 seconds left. The game was a lot closer than people thought it was going to be, but with the Patriots recent history of having troubling playing in Buffalo it wasn’t all that surprising. There were ups and downs to this game so lets get into it.

 

Quarterbacks

Tom Brady was pretty average in this game. He seemed to be doing too much and trying to force things to happen. He was willing the game to come to him instead of just letting it happen in rhythm. One thing that was extremely noticeable was that he wasn’t on the same page with all of the receivers. He was connecting well with Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman, but with Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce, they were constantly getting their signals mixed up and it resulted in Thompkins missing his spots and not making the catch. Either way, Tom Brady in the 4th quarter led the team to two scoring drives including the game winning drive.

Overall QB Grade: B

 

Running Backs

The big story of the game was the mid game benching of Stevan Ridley. This came after he fumbled twice including once when he was untouched and then it was returned for a touchdown. Although Bill Belichick is known for benching fumbling running backs, it proved to be a very bad decision as they benched him in the middle of a very productive performance. He was breaking of good chunks of yards almost every carry and would have had a huge game if he wasn’t benched. His absence showed as they only ran the ball once in the second half at the goal line, which both ended up as field goals. For the future, I believe that benching your best runner is a bad decision especially against a team that Ridley has absolutely destroyed in the past. With Ridley out, Shane Vereen was asked to step up and he did. He was explosive and he was getting between 6-15 yards almost every time he touched the ball. He proved again in this game how much of a force he can be in this offense. This is just the beginning for him.

Overall RB Grade: B+

 

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

The tight ends in this game were absolutely non-exsistent in the passing game. Hooman was a good force in the running game and in the pass block, but outside of that wasn’t really a factor. The biggest factors were Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman, who ripped the Bills secondary for a combined 17 receptions for 183 yards and 2 touchdowns. Amendola especially had a big game with 7 of his 10 catches going for a first down. They both were on the same page as Brady and it showed quickly. Kenbrell Thompkins, though, looked very jittery in his first game. He never had his feet set and was falling down a lot. Hopefully these were just rookie game jitters.

Overall WR Grade: A-

 

Offensive Line

Pretty average day for the O Line as they only allowed 2 sacks, but looked very good in the run game against a very talented front 4 that Buffalo has. Mario Williams, although injured, was a non-factor largely due to the play of the two tackles and Marcell Dareus was held relatively in check as well.

Overall OL Grade: A-

 

Defensive Line

It was a good game overall for the defensive line as they really held their own in the running game. They held the electric C.J Spiller to a measly 41 yards. Fred Jackson had more success, but he seems to have the Patriots number no matter that personnel.The one knock against them was that they had no sacks against the shifty E.J Manuel, but they kept contain on him and forced him out of the pocket on multiple occasions. No one really stood out, but they were solid as a unit.

Overall DL Grade: B

 

Linebackers

Just like with the D Line, it was a pretty average game. One note of improvement was in coverage. There were no big gains from receivers covered by linebackers and whenever there was a catch, they swarmed the carrier and didn’t allow a lot of YAC. More solid play all around for the linebackers.

Overall LB Grade: B+

 

Defensive Backs

This was, in my opinion, the best unit on defense. Although they did give up two TDs, they played great all game. Every offense is going to have their plays, but the key is to make sure you control the damage and not give up big plays and they did just that. The longest reception was for 19 yards and they forced 2 turnovers. The best player on the field defensively to me was Kyle Arrington. This was, in my opinion, the best game he has ever played. He was all over the field and forced two fumbles and almost had a pick also. He was great in man coverage and like the rest of the defense, didn’t allow a big play. If he can continue this great play, it will help out this defense immensely.

Overall DB Grade: A

 

Special Teams

Stephen Gostkowski played well as he hit 3 FGs including the game winner. Ryan Allen had a tough debut as the punter for the Patriots, but showed flashes of an elite punter. Outside of them two, the rest of the unit was solid and no big plays were given up.

Overall ST Grade: B+
Well, that’s it for this week. Stay tuned for my report about the Jets game on Thursday. Hit me up on twitter @MLBN_Hrube.