Patriots - Bills: Game Balls & Goats

The Patriots downed the Buffalo Bills 38 - 30 Sunday at Gillette Stadium. Some players had good games, some ... didn't. Each week we hand out our postgame Game Balls (good) and Goats (not good). Read on, and submit your own.


Jon Scott:

Tom Brady 21 of 27 for 252 yards and 3 TDs.  Brady was efficient when it mattered.  The two passes he threw with 0:18 left in the first half to get into field goal range were typical Brady-esque greatness.  It helps that Brandon Tate and Aaron Hernandez made amazing catches.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis 16 carries for 98 yards was a solid outing and he would have had 100 without a late -2 yard run.  Perhaps his best play was a decision to run inside on an off-tackle play late in the fourth quarter when he could have gained another 5-10 or more yards by running towards the sideline.  The Pats needed to run clock, and Green-Ellis cut the play back inside to make sure the clock continued to run.

Danny Woodhead his first game as a Patriot and he turns in a solid, Kevin Faulk-like outing by running three times for 42 yards on draw or delay plays. Nifty moves near the goal enabled Woodhead to turn defenders around and around.

Honorable Mentions:
Aaron Hernandez -- He led all receivers with 6 receptions for 65 yards.

James Christensen:

Dan Connolly and the O-Line:
Tom Brady had plenty of time to go through his reads today, and the Patriots rushed for over 200 yards. The offensive line obviously did their job, and Connolly stood out with quality pulls and blocking downfield.

Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski:
What more can you say?  These two rookies add an extra dimension to the Patriots offense that teams are still struggling to figure out.  3rd down and red-zone conversions are coming much easier this year for New England.

Tom Brady:
After we chastised Brady for locking in on Randy Moss last week against the Jets, he certainly redeemed himself by spreading the ball around to seven different receivers on his way to 252 yards and 3 TD's.

Honorable mentions:
Danny Woodhead, Jermaine Cunningham



Patriots Secondary –
without the constant scoring by the Patriots offense, the defensive secondary would have saddled New England with another loss to a division opponent.  The Bills entered the game averaging just 89 yards passing per game. Ryan Fitzpatrick managed 20/28 passing for 247 yards and 2 TDs, though he did give up two INTs.

Patriots Kickoff Coverage – The Patriots fared well in the first two contests, but allowing C.J. Spiller to return a kick 95 yards for a score late in the game to give the Bills hope was inexcusable.  Three Patriots had Spiller contained, but poor tackling allowed him to escape.

Defensive tackling – At first glance, there were at least 4 plays where poor tackling led to big plays for the Bills.  The Brandon Meriweather move inside to allow CJ Spiller to take an outside, uncontested path the end zone was especially troubling. Meriweather should have known better. A Ryan Fitzpatrick scramble for first down when he was in the grasp in the backfield proves it's not just the secondary having trouble wresting opponents to the ground.


Defensive Secondary:
Even though Patrick Chung and Brandon Meriweather came up with two huge interceptions to seal the game for New England, the secondary looked ugly.  The Bills converted on 50% of their 3rd downs, including multiple third and longs.  Tackling and communication will again be the hot topics in defensive meetings this week.

Special Teams:
CJ Spiller got loose on a kickoff return, while Zoltan Mesko had two sub-40 yard punts.  Stephen Gostkowski did connect on a field goal, but Jake Ingram was still a bit off on his long snaps.  Mesko has done a fine job of holding, but if Ingram doesn't clean things up, there will be a costly error.

Brandon Tate:
Tate had a decent day returning kickoffs, while also making an important catch near the end of the 1st half.  That said, you just can't put the ball on the ground in the NFL. 

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