Buffalo fans need to be more careful about what they wish for, especially when it involves Tom Brady.
One week after Bills fans chanted “We want Brady” throughout Ralph Wilson Stadium in the midst of a win over the Colts, the Patriots quarterback made his presence felt. The 38-year-old completed 38 of his 59 passes for 466 yards and three touchdowns, leading New England (2-0) to a convincing 40-32 win over the Buffalo Bills (1-1).
Brady’s 466 passing yard total was the second highest of his career in a single game. He improved his lifetime record against the Bills to 24-3 with the victory.
Rob Gronkowski had a team-high 113 receiving yards and a touchdown, while Julian Edelman chipped in with two touchdowns of his own, helping New England build a 24-point lead in the third quarter that withstood a late Bills rally.
Three Things We Learned:
1. Tyrod Taylor comes back to earth
The biggest surprise of the Bills’ convincing win over the Colts in Week 1 was the stellar performance of Taylor in his first career start. Against the Patriots defense, however, the fifth-year quarterback looked much more like a career backup. The former Raven turned the ball over four times (three interceptions, one fumble) and was sacked eight times. After a game-opening touchdown drive, Taylor failed to lead Buffalo’s offense to a first down for five consecutive drives, allowing New England to build a double-digit lead.
Taylor did come to life in the fourth quarter, throwing for a pair of touchdowns and running for another that helped the Bills make a game of it. Still, Taylor’s inability to find holes within the Patriots’ defense for the first three quarters led to a deficit too large to overcome.
2. Who needs a running game?
The Bills have one of the more formidable front lines in the NFL, and the Patriots opted against challenging that unit on Sunday. Instead, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels elected to spread the Bills defense out from the team’s opening drive and stuck with that strategy all afternoon. The Patriots ran the ball just 15 times for 56 yards compared to a whopping 59 pass attempts. Only nine of those carries went to Pats running backs, and Brady instead feasted on an overmatched Buffalo secondary.
3. Dion Lewis shows he’s the real deal
Despite the return of LeGarrette Blount from suspension, Lewis was the featured back in the Patriots backfield for the second straight week. The shifty 24-year-old made the most of his seven carries, producing 40 yards and a touchdown. His value was most apparent within the passing game yet again, as he was a regular target for Brady in the flat, tallying 98 receiving yards on six catches.
A fumble for the second straight week did not end up sending Lewis to Belichick’s doghouse. In past years, those transgressions would have earned a running back a seat on the bench, but Belichick stuck with Lewis for the remainder of the contest, showing how valuable a weapon he is to the Patriots’ attack.