Patriots - Bills: Report Cards (Week 16)

Bill Belichick (AP Photo)

The Patriots defeated the Buffalo Bills 34-3 on Sunday. Who did well and who didn't? Here are the grades on a unit-by-unit basis.

PATRIOTS REPORT CARD VS. BILLS

PASSING OFFENSE: A -- Some games are better than others, but it's hard to find fault when your starting quarterback plays a flawless game without committing any costly turnovers. Tom Brady continued his impressive streak of mistake-free football Sunday, completing 15 of 27 passes for 140 yards and three touchdowns. The Patriots essentially had their way with Buffalo's defense from start to finish.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A-plus -- This is as good as it gets. The Patriots rushed for a whopping 217 yards as a team, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. BenJarvus Green-Ellis did most of the damage, rushing for 104 yards on just 19 carries -- an average of 5.5 per carry. Danny Woodhead continued his remarkable resurgence with 93 yards on 13 carries, including a touchdown.

PASS DEFENSE: A -- The ball-hawking secondary continues to surge. The Patriots intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick three times and limited him to just 251 yards on 18-of-37 passing while forcing him to fumble twice. The only reason his numbers are somewhat respectable is because the Bills were forced to throw early and often once the Patriots broke the game open.

RUSH DEFENSE: B-minus -- Fred Jackson had a decent game with 81 yards on 13 carries, but nothing the Bills did on the ground had any impact on the final outcome. Plus, the Patriots forced C.J. Spiller to fumble twice, which is a positive sign. The Patriots do have some concerns with their run defense, but the rest of the players have stepped up to render the opposing running game irrelevant.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- Not much to talk about here. Shayne Graham hit both of his field-goal attempts and the Bills didn't get anything going in the return game. The Patriots continue to get a great effort from punter Zoltan Mesko while Graham has filled in nicely for the injured Stephen Gostkowski.

COACHING: A -- Even though the players are doing the bulk of the work, the coaching staff deserves credit for having everyone prepared on a weekly basis. No team is more focused or more consistent than New England. The fact they haven't turned the ball over in more than two months is a remarkable feat and a sign of how much they emphasis limiting mistakes in practice.


B. Moorman waits to punt vs Pats (AP /Mike Groll)

BILLS REPORT CARD VS. PATRIOTS

PASSING OFFENSE: D-plus -- Ryan Fitzpatrick had his worst day of the year with three interceptions and two lost fumbles. He didn't seem to have any timing with his young receiving corps, as the Patriots found ways to shut everyone down. Stevie Johnson caught five balls for 58 yards to lead the way, Donald Jones had five for 54, and Naaman Roosevelt caught four for 74 yards, but no one scored, the first time in 16 games that Fitzpatrick was blanked. The line did a decent enough job giving him time to throw, and he was sacked just twice, but Fitzpatrick had a tough time with the wind and with reading the Patriots' myriad coverages.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- If only the Bills had stuck with the ground game, perhaps they could have at least made a game of it. Fred Jackson ran for 50 yards on the first series, and then New England changed its defensive look and basically scared the Bills away from running. Jackson gained only 31 yards the rest of the game. C.J. Spiller managed 30 yards on six attempts, and the Bills finished with 125 yards and a 6.0 average per carry. It just made no sense that Chan Gailey opted to get away from the run when the game was still close in the first half.

PASSING DEFENSE: D -- The Bills didn't have to do much on pass defense, but when they were asked to play it, they didn't do it very well. They were unable to generate any pressure on Tom Brady outside of Chris Kelsay's lone sack, and while Brady threw for only 140 yards, three of his passes went for touchdowns to Dan Gronkowski (two) and Alge Crumpler (one). The Bills have now surrendered 11 TDs to opposing tight ends this season, three of them to Gronkowski in two games. Drayton Florence had three pass breakups, and like everyone else who plays the Patriots, none of the Bills managed an interception of Brady.

RUSHING DEFENSE: F -- For the seventh time this year, the Bills yielded at least 200 yards rushing. The Patriots rolled up 217 on 41 attempts, a 5.3-yard average. BenJarvus Green-Ellis had 104 yards and Danny Woodhead added 93, including 29 on a first-quarter touchdown run that put the Patriots up for the duration. The Bills were pushed out of the way far too easily by the New England offensive line, and way too many tackles were made at the second level of the defense. Akin Ayodele led the Bills with 17 stops, but only one was for a loss. Paul Posluszny had 13 tackles, and Donte Whitner was in on 12 tackles.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- Not a good day for the specialty units, either. Spiller fumbled a punt return and averaged only 16.8 yards on five kickoff returns. Right now he seems a little clueless. Punter Brian Moorman's lousy season continued, as he had punts of 36 and 32 yards. The coverage units had very little to do, and Rian Lindell made the only field goal he attempted.

COACHING: F -- Gailey getting away from the running game was an ill-fated decision. It likely wouldn't have changed the outcome, but had the Bills stuck with the ground game longer, they probably would have been able to move the ball more effectively, turn it over less, and keep it away from Brady a bit longer. On defense, the Bills took another step back against the run after playing pretty well the previous few games. They had no answers for the Patriots' running attack, and they couldn't devise ways to get a pass rush on Brady.

 


This report courtesy of The Sports Xchange.

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