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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu Dec 03 | 04:00 PM - 11:59 PM

Matchup Winners: Bills at Patriots - Backups can't quite get job done


When the Patriots ran:


LeGarrette Blount had one solid stretch of activity during a third-quarter drive but otherwise the Patriots ground game was rendered meaningless. Blount ripped off a 34-yard run when he brilliantly remained patient on a sweep to the right and allowed the blocking to clear a nice path down the sideline. He followed that with a couple effective runs during a drive that ended in a field goal. He finished with 62 yards on 10 carries, but aside from the big run was held to 28 yards on nine attempts. Brandon Bolden (five carries, 15 yards) and Shane Vereen (two carries, 1 yards) were held in check and the Patriots failed to convert on a couple of short-yardage situations in the first half as a result. Jimmy Garoppolo's scrambling (16 yards) padded the team total of 116 yards on 25 attempts (4.6-yard average) but even he was stopped on a fourth-and-one rush in the third quarter. The Patriots simply didn't get any push when trying to run between the tackles.Edge: Bills

When the Patriots passed:


Tom Brady played the first half and Garoppolo finished up in the second. Neither was particularly effective finding open receivers and neither got the ball in the end zone. Brady manufactured one effective drive, moving the team 80 yards en route to a field goal but otherwise was held in check. He completed 8 of 16 passes for 80 yards and had a hard time sustaining offense. Garoppolo was any better, although he was working behind a patchwork offensive line that often left him running for his life. He hit 10 of 17 attempts for 90 yards and managed only a third-quarter field goal. He struggled with his accuracy and at times appeared late with his throws and slow with his reads, which is to be expected of a rookie earning his first significant playing time. Overall the Bills secondary did a good job of keeping the Patriots receivers (minus Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman) under wraps and allowed just 5 of 15 New England third down opportunities to be converted.Edge: Bills

When the Bills ran:


The strange part about this day for the Patriots was the pattern in which things unfolded. In the first half when most of the starters played, Buffalo moved the ball at will and put 17 points on the board. That included some impressive running by a Bills team that hasn't been able to move the ball on the ground all season long. Buffalo had 15 efficient runs (4 yards, first down, touchdown) on its first 21 rushing attempts and racked up 65 yards on the ground in the first half. Then the backups came in and Buffalo was unable to grind out first downs on the ground in the second half. Buffalo finished with 107 yards on 31 attempts (excluding Kyle Orton kneel downs), which translates to a less-than-stellar 3.5-yard average. Buffalo was generally able to move the chains in short-yardage situations but given the Bills lead, the nature of the game and the Patriots lineup Doug Marrone would surely have liked to have gotten more out of Fred Jackson (18 carries, 58 yards), Boobie Dixon (seven carries, 27 yards) and C.J. Spiller (five carries, 17 yards). Edge: Patriots

When the Bills passed:


The numbers weren't all that gaudy but Orton made key throws when he needed to. He completed 16 of 23 attempts for 176 yards and a touchdown but did not throw an interception. He did lose a fumble in the first half on a Jamie Collins sack but otherwise was efficient and mistake-free. He consistently made throws on third down to keep drives alive, particularly in the first half when the Bills dominated play with 202 yards of total offense. Sammy Watkins beat Darrelle Revis for a huge 43-yard gain to set up Robert Woods' early touchdown, and tight ends were once again a problem as Scott Chandler (20 yards), Lee Smith (18) and MarQueis Gray (three catches, 25 yards) all made big plays. Buffalo was rather conservative in the second half and the Patriots did a good job of applying pressure in the final 30 minutes and that helped keep the Bills off the scoreboard. But Orton was able to pick up some key first downs late, none bigger than a 6-yard strike on third-and-four to Woods with four minutes left in the game. Edge: Bills

Special Teams


The main reason for the Bills edge was one huge misstep in kick coverage when Marcus Thigpen returned a short Stephen Gostkowski kickoff 49 yards into Patriots territory. Kickoff specialist Jordan Gay sent each of his attempts into the end zone for touchbacks, forcing the Patriots to march the length of the field on a day in which the offense struggled. Otherwise it was a pretty solid day for New England's special teams. Ryan Allen had another strong performance, averaging 43.5 yards on his four punts, and Danny Amendola did a nice job of handling some short kicks from Colton Schmidt (36.6-yard average on five punts). Amendola brought one of those punts back 26 yards to set up a first-half field goal, but had another return negated by a Malcolm Butler penalty. Aside from Thigpen's near touchdown, there weren't many game-changing plays on special teams. Edge: Bills

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