PATRIOTS REPORT CARD vs. BILLS
PASSING OFFENSE: B-minus --
You can't ignore the 387 yards and four touchdowns, great numbers to be
sure, but the four interceptions by Brady proved costly. Other than WR
Wes Welker and TE Rob Gronkowski, no one else got actively involved in
the passing game. Deion Branch finished without a catch. Brady needs to
get others involved and seemed to miss go-to TE Aaron Hernandez.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- The
good news is the Patriots got their first real look at Stevan Ridley,
and he impressed with 44 yards on seven carries. The problem is
BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead appear to be getting exposed
the more they carry the ball. This experiment might be running out of
steam. The Patriots didn't run the ball well enough to make the Bills
respect them up front, and that'll be a problem down the road if things
PASS DEFENSE: C-minus -- Too
many big plays allowed by the secondary; it's become a theme these past
few weeks, and this time the Patriots paid the price. Even with Kyle
Arrington's two interceptions, the Patriots could not stop the big
plays. Ryan Fitzpatrick had his way with the secondary, especially in
the second half.
RUSH DEFENSE: C -- The Bills
relied heavily on the passing game, but Fred Jackson came up with two
big plays down the stretch with the team needed it most. The Patriots
really couldn't make a stop in any facet of the game, and their fear of
getting beat deep opened up some opportunities for Jackson on the
game's final two drives.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- This was
actually a strength for the Patriots. Stephen Gostkowski boomed six
kickoffs into the end zone for touchdowns and the Patriots limited the
Bills in the return game. They also got a solid performance from punter
Zoltan Mesko, including a long of 57 yards.
COACHING: C -- This is a tough
call because it's hard to say whether the Patriots are too conservative
defensively or if Bill Belichick is playing to the strengths (or, in
this case, weaknesses) of his personnel. Either way, something must
change, and if Belichick is being honest when he says it must be
"coached better" in the aftermath of losses, then now is the time to
switch things up and come up with a new plan defensively.
BILLS REPORT CARD vs. PATRIOTS
PASSING OFFENSE: A -- Ryan
Fitzpatrick found himself in a shootout with Tom Brady, and he won.
Yes, Brady had 387 yards to Fitzpatrick's 369, the most ever by a Bills
QB against a Bill Belichick defense. And Fitzgerald had two fewer TD
passes, but more important, he had two fewer interceptions, and that
was the primary difference. Fitzgerald was never sacked thanks to an
offensive line that continues to surprise, and the receiving corps -
most of whom no one outside Buffalo has even heard of - came up with
big plays. Donald Jones topped 100 yards for the first time in his
career, Stevie Johnson had 94 yards, David Nelson 84 yards, and RB Fred
Jackson had 87. It was a startling performance by the entire unit
against a defense that simply isn't very good.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- Jackson
rushed for 74 yards and averaged 6.2 yards per attempt and that was
pretty much it for the run game, but it didn't matter. This was a game
that was going to be decided through the air, and everyone knew it.
Jackson broke a 21-yard run, and he scored on a one-yard plunge to tie
the score in the fourth quarter. His greatest contributions came as a
receiver, and as a pass protector. C.J. Spiller was hardly on the field
and he had one carry for three yards.
PASS DEFENSE: B-minus -- What
an interesting day it was for the secondary. It made four
interceptions, which matched the total that Brady threw all of 2010.
Two of the picks were great reads by George Wilson and Leodis McKelvin
who made plays on the ball, something that has been lacking for the
Bills. The other two came when a ball went off Danny Woodhead and Bryan
Scott made a diving, acrobatic catch, and then Drayton Florence caught
a deflected pass at the line and brought it back 27 yards for a
go-ahead TD in the fourth quarter. On the negative side, there was no
semblance of a pass rush, and because of that Brady was able to throw
for 387 yards, and 217 of those yards were Wes Welker's responsibility.
The Bills couldn't cover him and he caught 16 passes, the most ever
against a Buffalo defense, while his yardage total was a Patriots
record. Another big problem was TE Rob Gronkowski who had 109 yards and
RUSH DEFENSE: B -- The Patriots
have become a pass-happy team, but they did give the ground game a try,
rushing 26 times for 108 yards. The Bills were pretty strong up front,
though rookie Steven Ridley gave them trouble as he averaged 6.3 yards
per rush including a 16-yarded right up the gut. But overall, the Bills
were fine, showing once again that the league-worst rush defense in
2010 is vastly improved. Last season, the Pats topped 200 yards rushing
in both victories over the Bills. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was a nonfactor
with 16 yards on nine carries.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Rian
Lindell made one of the most important kicks of his career, a last-play
28-yarder that ended New England's 15-game winning streak over the
Bills. He also made a 42-yarder in the first half. Punter Brian Moorman
had a nice day, averaging 44.4 net (50.6 gross) on five punts with two
dropping inside the 20. The coverage units were fine, but C.J. Spiller
returned two punts and one kickoff for a total of 36 yards, which has
COACHING: A -- Chan Gailey got
the best of Bill Belichick, and that's the bottom line. It was
Belichick's team that looked unusually disorganized and undisciplined
in the second half as the Pats blew a 21-0 lead. Gailey called a
terrific offensive game, and he proved once again that he really has a
nice feel for his players and what they can do. On defense, coordinator
George Edwards played nickel almost the entire game, knowing Brady
would be passing, and while Brady produced a huge yardage total and had
four TDs, the Bills picked him off four times, and some of that was
just good technique by the Bills' DBs.
Report Cards: Patriots - Bills
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