Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe writes that the Patriots looked like one of the dominant teams in the NFL. Of course, Buffalo's ineptness had a lot to do with New England's magnificence, but yesterday's 35-7 (snow) blasting was the Patriots' best performance of the season. "We enjoy winning and having fun," said receiver Deion Branch. "If you noticed, around the end of the third quarter, guys were laughing and we were enjoying it." With the victory, the Patriots (8-5) maintained a two-game lead atop the AFC East on Miami, which beat San Diego yesterday. Any New England win or Miami loss clinches the Patriots' third straight division title. Solomon offers a full recap of the Patriots win.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that the Buffalo Bills ran for 14 yards yesterday against an emerging, aggressive, and dominant Patriots defense. The Bills' J.P. Losman's quarterback rating amid the snow, ice, and general misery at Ralph Wilson Stadium was 33.6. Add well-timed interceptions by cornerbacks Asante Samuel and Ellis Hobbs, and James Sanders's garbage time interception and 39-yard touchdown run, and this one not only reminded of the Patriots' dominance of some of their Super Bowl seasons, it could be a steppingstone for Saturday's game against 9-4 Tampa Bay at Gillette Stadium.
Ron Borges of the Boston Globe writes that six weeks ago, against the same Bills New England destroyed yesterday, 35-7, the Patriots barely escaped with a victory. Their defense was trampled, allowing 147 yards on the ground and 394 yards overall in a 21-16 New England victory. That night, the Bills made 24 first downs and limited the Patriots to 18, controlling third down and the clock for most of the night. Yesterday, everything New England did was in stark contrast to that Oct. 30 game in Foxborough. This time, the Patriot offense rang up a club-record 32 first downs and 494 total yards (to 273 six weeks ago). Most significantly for the offense, the Patriots ran for 159 yards and threw for 336 against the same defense that limited them to 93 and 199, respectively, in the first meeting. And they allowed only one sack of Tom Brady despite having what amounted to a backup tackle and a backup center starting this time.
Adam Kilgore of the Boston Globe writes that Corey Dillon ran for 102 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries in the Patriots' 35-7 romp. It was Dillon's highest rushing total since Week 5 against Atlanta, when he racked up 106 yards in a 31-28 Patriots win. Yesterday marked just the second time this season Dillon has reached the century mark, a feat he accomplished nine times last year.
Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe writes that the Patriots' offensive line shuffle continued yesterday, as Tom Ashworth started at left tackle because a shoulder injury sidelined rookie Nick Kaczur, who was starting for the injured Matt Light.
Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe writes that this was one of those days when Tom Brady was Larry Bird. He played hard, played hurt, and played magnificently in a snow-covered 35-7 victory over the unraveling Buffalo Bills. Brady completed 29 of 38 passes for 329 yards. He threw two touchdown passes, ran for another score, completed a pass with his left hand, averaged 4.3 yards on four eventful carries, and was called for a manly chop block when he tried to take out safety Troy Vincent while Deion Branch carried on an double reverse. Brady did most of this while limping around like television's Dr. Gregory House, sans cane. "For being such a squirrelly guy, he sure is tough," chuckled tight end Christian Fauria, who caught the other touchdown pass. "He's hurt and he's out there scrambling around for the first down."
Michael Felger of the Boston Herald writes that New England played their best game of the year yesterday, dominating the Bills on both sides of the ball en route to a 35-7 romp. On so many levels, they finally looked like the NFL's reigning dynasty. Providing Tom Brady's left knee wasn't seriously hurt - and it didn't appear that it was - the day was uniformly positive. The Patriots have started to come out of their shell, both in terms of play-calling and execution. They've gotten more aggressive and they've improved, although probably not to the level yesterday's score would indicate. "Consistency is the thing. Consistency in having guys in the lineup. Consistency in having guys communicating," said Colvin. "Once the coaches are more confident with the guys that are out there, that gives Eric and Bill more leeway in what they call. When you can't line up correctly, you can't get exotic, you can't call crazy blitzes. But when you start doing that, it gives Eric and Bill confidence."
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal writes that The Patriots are starting to play like the Patriots. On a snowy afternoon in Western New York, New England's offense had its most potent game of the season and its defense humiliated young Bills quarterback J.P. Losman in a 35-7 Patriots win. Clicking on both fronts, the Pats set a team record with 32 first downs -- 20 through the air. The defense was equally as dominant allowing only eight first downs all game and held Willis McGahee to three yards on eight carries.
John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes that the two-time defending Super Bowl champs finally look like a team worth fearing thanks to a fundamental shift in philosophy. Sluggish on offense, tentative on defense and unimaginative in the coaches' booth, they since have released the hounds on both sides of the ball. The defense swarmed quarterback J.P. Losman like piranhas, sacking him twice, knocking him down a half-dozen times and intercepting three passes. Offensively, the Pats rolled up 32 first downs and held the ball for 41:59. They rode the rejuvenated Corey Dillon (22 carries, 102 yards, TD) as well as a gutsy effort from Brady, who injured his left leg during a first-quarter touchdown run but stayed in to throw for 329 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald writes that watching Tom Brady play yesterday with what appeared to be a banged up knee, hobbling for yards in the snow on forced keepers and hurling his body around to throw a block - albeit illegal - was reminiscent of former Pats quarterback Steve Grogan. Brady did toss a pair of interceptions, including a poor one in the end zone intended for David Givens just before halftime, but he made some big-time throws, most notably on third-down plays, particularly to Deion Branch. With the game safely in hand, Belichick did insert Doug Flutie with 7:02 left in the fourth quarter. The most important issue, however, remains his knee. There didn't appear to be any swelling. "I hope to be out there next week. I'd love to be. We'll see how it goes," he said. "It would be hard not to play. I love playing. It would take a lot not to be out there." "I'm just playing. It's going to be a hard thing to ever get me out of there," Brady said when asked if he was in any pain running around on wounded leg. "There's guys in the locker room who play, not feeling 100 percent every day. Like I said, if I couldn't play, I wouldn't play. But I could play, so I was in there."
Michael Felger of the Boston Herald offers a story on the Patriots secondary. The Pats, tied for last in the NFL in takeaways (11) heading into yesterday, picked Losman off three times while holding the Bills to just 2-of-20 third-down conversions. It was a marked improvement from their October 30 effort against Buffalo when they gave up 263 passing yards to Kelly Holcomb and allowed 7-of-14 third-down conversions. "Anytime you can get out there and make plays on the ball, it just builds your confidence," said cornerback Ellis Hobbs, who had his team-leading third pick. "The thing is we went out there thinking 'get off the field. We don't need to be out here.' It was very crucial, not only physically getting off the field, but for team morale."
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his analysis of the Patriots 35-7 win over the Buffalo Bills.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.