Week 8 Game Recap: Buffalo Bills 16, New England Patriots 21
What you need to know
Despite outstanding individual performances from Willis McGahee and Eric Moulds, and a huge time of possession advantage, the Bills couldn’t prevent a New England come from behind victory. Buffalo held the ball for over 22 minutes in the first half, yet only managed three points. The second half showed better production but also more mistakes. Kelly Holcomb hit Eric Moulds for a score, but also fumbled the ball on a sack that started the Patriots’ winning drive.
Running back Willis McGahee had a fantastic game running the ball. He was the Bills’ workhorse, rushing the ball over 30 times. Number one wide out Eric Moulds complemented McGahee with his best statistical performance of the season: nine receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Kelly Holcomb played a very efficient game, and continued to show that he can adequately manage his team.
The game was primarily a defensive battle. The Bills hurt themselves with missed opportunities, despite having good success both maintaining possession and moving the ball. Long sustained drives in the first half ended with two punts, a missed field goal, and a made field goal for Buffalo’s only three points of the half. The scoring picked up in the second half, but the Bills couldn’t hang with the Patriots, and lost a game where they should have scored a lot more points than they did.
The Patriots played an abysmal first half of football, managing only one drive with more than four plays. Even it ended horribly, with Vinatieri missing a 44 yard field goal at the end of the half. The team clearly made some adjustments at halftime, as they marched down the field for a quick third quarter touchdown pass from Brady to Branch. Solid defensive play, highlighted by the return of defensive captain Tedy Bruschi, contributed heavily to New England’s comeback win. Brady led the team on multiple second half scoring drives, while the defense made some big plays that prevented Buffalo from holding on to their lead.
Tom Brady had a sub par fantasy outing, managing just one touchdown pass and less than 200 yards. He was met by constant pressure from the Buffalo defense that affected his rhythm and altered many of his throws. The Patriots seemed to have a blossoming offensive weapon in running back Patrick Pass, but his night ended early with a hamstring injury. Cue Corey Dillon, who played despite being hurt, and provided a much needed shot of consistent running in the second half. His second rushing score proved to be the game winning touchdown.
Deion Branch and David Givens were Brady’s favorite targets on the night. Branch was the long ball, home run hitter, while Givens was Brady’s short pass receiver, catching seven passes on the night, the most of any Patriot receiver.
In all, a solid defensive effort, keyed by Bruschi’s return, plus the effective Brady passing and Dillon rushing second half offense enabled the Patriots to overcome their first half woes and notch a bit divisional win that solidified their first place standing in the AFC East.
What you ought to know
|QB Kelly Holcomb, Pass: 20 - 33 - 263 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0|
Holcomb hit a decent percentage of his passes for good yardage. He continues to prove that he is the most capable quarterback on the Bills’ roster. Eric Moulds was far and away his favorite target, with 13 of his 33 attempts headed his way. He hooked up with Moulds for a 55 yard post pattern touchdown early in the second half. The next drive ended with an interception (also thrown towards Moulds). The game turned on the Bills when he was blind-sided and fumbled the ball. New England recovered, scored, and won the game.
McGahee was a workhorse. He didn’t bust any huge gains, but consistently found space for four to six yards. He ran strong and always fell forward. He contributed in the passing game with two receptions for just over 20 yards. The only blemish on his night was not finding the end zone.
Williams was effective at spelling McGahee, especially in the passing game. He was credited for an 11 yard pass on the last play of the game, despite it being an illegal forward pass. The Bills were trying a desperation play with lots of laterals, but he threw his lateral forward.
He made his only reception count, turning it into a 21 yard gain.
Moulds was clearly Holcomb’s favorite target on the night. He ran great routes, blocked downfield for McGahee, and executed well all game long. He trounced his other performances this year, finally going over the 100 yard receiving mark. He caught a 55 yard touchdown early in the second half. He was the target on Holcomb’s lone interception.
Parrish got his reception early in the game. He worked hard and reversed field showing speed and determination.
Reed was Holcomb’s second favorite wide receiver target. His two receptions came late in the fourth quarter of the game.
Evans’ only reception came on the first drive of the game.
Campbell was only targeted once in the game.
Euhus was not a factor in the game.
Lindell made field goals of 23, 35, and 41 yards. He also missed a 46 yard field goal badly to the left. He made his only PAT.
The rush defense looked vulnerable early, as Patrick Pass broke loose for some big gains. Once Pass was lost to injury, the Bills shut down the Patriots’ running game for the rest of the first half. The second half was a different story, as Dillon consistently made key runs for first downs, and found the end zone twice.
The pass defense held Brady under 200 yards passing; an impressive feat for any team. They did allow him to connect with Deion Branch on a few big plays, including a touchdown. They didn’t force any interceptions.
|QB Tom Brady, Pass: 14 - 21 - 199 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0|
Brady, and the entire Patriots’ offense, was stymied for the entire first half. Brady came out a different quarterback in the second half, immediately leading his team on a scoring drive where he found Deion Branch for a 33 yard touchdown. He led the team on two other touchdown scoring drives in the second half, earning another come from behind victory.
Dillon’s role in the running game changed when Patrick Pass went down with a hamstring injury. Despite being hurt himself, he turned in a gutsy performance that included two second half touchdown runs. His consistent running earned several first downs, and ended up being the difference in the game. He was a non-factor in the passing game.
|RB Patrick Pass, Rush: 3 - 17 - 0, Rec: 1 - 23 - 0 (1 targets)|
Pass started the game at running back, and looked to make a lot of noise before he left with an injured hamstring. He started the game with a 14 yard run called back on penalty. He had a 22 yard reception on the next play. Then another positive yardage run called back on a penalty. The Patriots second possession found him gaining nine yards on first and ten. On the next play, he injured his left hamstring. He reached for the leg with his left hand when the injury occurred, which just so happened to have the ball in it. He fumbled and Buffalo recovered, leading to their first half field goal. Pass was on his way to a great game until he got hurt.
Givens was the most targeted receiver for the Patriots. Brady seemed to look for him in short and possession type situations.
Branch was Brady’s home run option in the game; his three catches were good for 92 yards. He caught a 33 yard touchdown on the opening drive of the second half.
One of Davis’ incomplete target was a long bomb.
Dwight’s only reception nearly went for a score, as he was downed at the one yard line.
Graham’s only reception was a 15 yard catch that was challenged by Buffalo and upheld by the officials.
Vinatieri made all three of his PATs. He missed his 44 yard field goal attempt at the end of the first half. He appeared to have been successfully iced by the Bills, as they called a timeout after his 39 yard attempt was good but called back due to a delay of game penalty.
Despite letting McGahee rack up over 130 yards on the ground, they did two things well: they didn’t let him in the end zone, and they didn’t let him rip off any huge gains.
The pass defense played adequately, considering how the secondary had been ravaged by injuries. They allowed Holcomb to complete a high percentage of his passes for decent yardage, yet only yielded one touchdown. Their biggest contributions came in the turnover department, as Asante Samuel picked off a Holcomb pass intended for Eric Moulds, and Roosevelt Colvin got to Holcomb and both knocked the ball loose and recovered it, enabling New England to score and seal the victory.