Wasn’t their prettiest win, but they still got it done. Your New England Patriots are officially 10-0, with their eyes on Denver this Sunday night. Their guys are dropping like flies at this point. Danny Amendola went down with a knee injury, and at the time of publishing, there hasn’t been anything said to update us. Aaron Dobson, who’s status for the game was already in doubt, also went down with an ankle injury. The receiving corps has basically been cut to Brandon LaFell and a bunch of no-names.
Offensively, do I even have to start about the O-line? They. Were. Awful. Utterly atrocious, by far the worst showing out of them this year. I get there are guys who are hurt and playing out of position, but they just can’t make adjustments. At this point, it shouldn’t be brand new anymore- the Patriots have been in this position for most of the season. Specifically, Marcus Cannon was useless tonight. He took two penalties, was consistently getting beat, and just looked flat-out lost. He’s not a bad guard, but as a tackle, his feet just aren’t quick enough. Sebastian Vollmer and Bryan Stork didn’t exactly look that good either. Brady was hit tonight well over 10 times, which is unacceptable. Everyone should know that keeping Brady on his feet is the first and foremost priority. And tonight, the line just wasn’t ready to play.
Other than them, it was still rather pedestrian for the Pats. Brady still looked ehh. He had a pick that wasn’t really his fault, but it was still not a good throw or decision. He was on-and-off for a lot of the night. Rex Ryan held true to his pregame promise that Brady wouldn’t torch them like he did in Week 2 again. Gronk was kept in check as well as he has been this year. He only had two catches for like 40 yards. He had a few uncharacteristic drops, and just mentally seemed out of it. I don’t exactly know what was going on there, but I don’t expect it to happen again. LeGarrette Blount did solid, but who really impressed me is James White. He is a different type of runner and pass-catcher than Dion Lewis, but tonight, he was breaking tackles and moving the chains. Obviously, he has room to grow, but having both of the touchdowns last night was huge.
Defensively, if I had to grade, I’d give it a B- or a C+. Dont’a Hightower again looked phenomenal, he was all over the place. The corners both did okay-ish, and Chandler Jones had a key sack. Patrick Chung struggled. He got burned on roughly three occasions, including a play that he completely got away with pass interference on the Bills’ Kevin Hogan. There wasn’t an answer for LeSean McCoy, but once the Bills started trailing, you can’t just keep running the ball.
Special teams came away with a big forced fumble on a punt return by Leodis McKelvin, which put the Pats at the Bills’ 30, leading to White’s touchdown run. It must be snowing in hell, because Stephen GOATkowski missed a field goal… from 54 yards away… barely. Not really a cause for concern, just made the game a bit closer.
Speaking of making the game closer, the refereeing last night was awful. I was watching the game with two of my friends who are Pats fans and three buddies who are Bills fans, and all were in agreement. Both teams got absolutely screwed on multiple occasions. The big one, obviously, was the mysterious whistle on the sideline play. Brady was a solid 4 feet away from the sideline when the ref blew the play dead. It looked like Amendola was about to take it in for a 70-yard touchdown, but instead, it killed the play. Even though the catch ended up counting and a 15-yard penalty was tacked on to the end of the play, it took away the inevitable yards after the catch. That’s when SG3 missed the kick, and the Bills scored on the ensuing possession. It was conceivably a 14-point swing, and it was 100% on the sideline referee. I can get over blown calls and touchy penalties. But blowing your whistle with no clear explanation why? That’s inexcusable. You can’t just do that- if you’re not sure, you let the play run, because you can always just review it afterwards. This entire referee crew was disgusting, and realistically, they should be both suspended and fined for their porous efforts last night. However, since it’s the NFL and Roger Goodell, it probably won’t happen.
Next week, the Patriots are on the road to face the Broncos. Familiar opponent? Well, kind of. The team itself is, but not expected to play is Peyton Manning. Whether it’s due to injury or performance will probably be up for debate on ESPN all week long, but this game will not add a chapter to the Brady-Manning sage. For all intents and purposes, it looks like that ‘rivalry’ is done. Bring on Brock Osweiler.