Tom Brady’s career dominance against the Buffalo Bills continued on Monday night in Foxboro.
The veteran quarterback improved to 26-3 in his lifetime against the AFC East rival after helping New England grind out a 20-13 victory over Buffalo in a marathon affair at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots improved to 10-0 in the win.
The win didn’t come easy against Rex Ryan and the Bills (5-5), as Brady was limited to just 277 passing yards, his second lowest output of the season. The 38-year-old completed just 20 of 39 passes to his depleted receiving corps and was under constant pressure (10 quarterback hits) from a impressive Buffalo frontline for most of the evening.
Still, Brady managed to make big plays when his team needed it. In a two-minute drill before halftime, he found James White in the flat for his first career touchdown to give New England a halftime lead. In the third quarter, he also connected with Danny Amendola (117 receiving yards) on a 41-yard pass that setup White’s second score, which ultimately proved to be the game-winner.
While the Bills defense bounced back from a disappointing Week 2 performance against New England, Tyrod Taylor and company could muster just three scoring drives, while star running back LaSean McCoy (82 rushing yards) was held in check against the Patriots’ improved defense.
Three things we learned:
1. The Patriots are in survival mode at receiver
The receiver depth chart for New England was already hurting heading into Monday night due to the extended absence of Julian Edelman. Things went from bad to worse for the receiving core though during the hard fought win. First, Aaron Dobson left the game with an ankle injury in the first half, which was followed by Danny Amendola exiting with a left knee injury in the third quarter. Both players did not return, forcing New England to scramble on offense the rest of the way. Amazingly, the Patriots had just two healthy active receivers in uniform for the fourth quarter, one being former practice squad player Chris Harper. Given the apparent severity of Dobson’s injury (he was helped off the field), the Patriots may need to hit the free agent wire for roster help before next week’s tilt with the Broncos.
2. James White makes the most of his opportunity
The season-ending injury to Dion Lewis a couple weeks back has opened up plenty of playing time in the Patriots backfield, especially on the passing downs. White has been a non-factor in the offense during most of his first two NFL seasons, but he finally broke through and made an impact Monday night. The 23-year-old showed off his elusiveness by breaking an open field tackle on a 20-yard touchdown reception just before halftime. He added a six-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, giving him the first two scores of his pro career. With countless skill position players on the Pats dealing with injuries, White showed the coaching staff he is capable of being counted on.
3. Official woes hit again
NFL referees have not had a good season across the league in 2015 and that trend continued Monday night in Foxboro. The biggest miscue of the night by the stripped shirts came in the third quarter when a play was inexplicably whistled dead after Tom Brady had released a pass intended for an open Danny Amendola. Instead of potentially earning big yardage after his catch, Amendola and the Patriots were forced to take the ball at the spot of the reception, due to the blunder. That was the most egregious mistake of the night, but the Patriots weren’t the only team affected by miscues. The Bills lost a final shot at a Hail Mary at the end of the contest after Buffalo receiver Sammy Watkins was ruled down by an official in the field of play, even though he was not touched by any defenders before rolling out of bounds.