Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD

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    Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD

         Congratulations to our New England Patriots, who today clinched the AFC East, and the best record in the AFC...thereby earning home field advantage throughout the play-offs. They did so in style, with a convincing 34-3 thrashing of the Buffalo Bills, in Buffalo.

         Despite their modest 4-11 record, these are the same Bills who gave away a victory over the Steelers at home, in OT...who blew a huge lead to the Ravens in Baltimore, before losing in OT...who have won four of their last six games, including wins over the Cleveland Browns (remember them?), and the Dolphins, in Miami.  

         How sweet it is!!! Here are my grades:

         A.) OFFENSE: Pretty much kept the air force grounded, and rolled over Ralph Wilson Stadium with their tanks and infantry.
     
    1.) QB: Rocking chair game for Tom Brady, as the Patriots rushed for over 200 yards...including 13 by Tom himself on a pair of scrambles, and on a patented QB sneak in the red zone. Nonetheless, when called upon, Brady was able to release his usual, mistake free fury. The Terrific One completed 15 of 27 passes for 140 yards, three (3) TDs, and no interceptions. In so doing, he broke the record previously held by Bernie Kosar, of no interceptions in 308 passing attempts...a record Kosar established over two seasons. Tom has now run that record to 319 passing attempts, and still counting. Brady also holds the NFL record for the most games in a row in which two TD passes and no interceptions were thrown, with eight (8), and counting. Okay...want me to point out a Brady mistake? He underthrew an open Rob Gronkowski deep, early in the game:
    GRADE: A;

    2.) RBs:
    Thanks again to the New York Jets for kindly releasing Danny Woodhead. As great as the Patriots usually are in replacing injured players, they have outdone themselves, once Kevin Faulk went on IR. Not only has Woodhead ably filled Faulk's shoes, but he has shown the ability to take over games...as he did in the 4th quarter last week against the Packers...and as he did in the first half today. The Pats' "Little Big Man" rushed 5 times for an amazing 72 yards in the first 30 minutes, including a 29 yard TD gallup for the Pats' first score. For the game, Danny finished with 93 yards in just 13 carries. He added 32 more yards on 3 pass receptions. In so doing, Woodhead produced 125 total yards, which was more than a third of the Patriots' 348 total yards gained for the entire game. Not to be outdone, BJGE brought his hard hat, and added 19 rushes for 104 yards. He was primarily responsible for milking the clock in the second half:
    GRADE: A+;

    3.) OL: Three cheers for the "Big Uglies", who generally dominated the game in the pits. This crew blew open some huge holes in the middle of the Bills' swiss cheese front seven. On pass plays, most of the time they allowed Tom Brady time enough to grab his cell phone, and call Gisele, before throwing. But, there were a few too many penalties committed. LT Matt Light was badly beaten by Bills OLB Chris Kelsay, leading to Buffalo's only sack:
    GRADE: A-;

    4.) TEs & WRs: Another great job of blocking by Crumpler and Gronkowski, greatly aiding the OL. Crumpler caught a rare pass for a TD, and Gronk ended up as the Pats' leading receiver. He finished with 4 receptions for 54 yards, and caught two (2) TD passes. He did have a drop, and committed a holding penalty. But, on a separate play, he did beat coverage deep...only to be under thrown by Brady. The WRs were an after-thought, as Deion Branch and Wes Welker combined for just five (5) receptions for 44 yards. Welker had an uncharacteristic bad game, underscored by two drops. The way the Pats' TEs are performing, I may be forced from now on to give them separate grades, for the sake of accuracy:
    GRADE: TEs (A), WRs (C);


         B.) DEFENSE: 
    After the front seven looked like a second rate Pop Warner team on the Bills initial drive, the entire "D" rebounded in style, holding the Bills scoreless thereafter...and caused a slew of killer turnovers.

    1.) DL: After getting manhandled on the Bills' first, drive, the DL regrouped, and manned-up. It also helped that the Bills mysteriously decided to turn away from what had been a successful strategy of running the ball down the Patriots' throats. Solid effort by Vince Wilfolk, Eric Moore, and Kevin Love, who combined for 12 tackles, including eight (8) solos, a fumble recovery (Moore), and a sack (Love):
    GRADE: B;

    2.) LBs: Notwithstanding the Bills' initial drive, ILBs Gary Guyton and Jerod Mayo were outstanding...combining for eleven tackles, including six (6) solos, a sack, and a fumble recovery. The sack was by Guyton, who forced the aforementioned fumble...which was recovered by Mayo. This was the play that changed the tone of the game. It occurred in the red zone, as the Bills were driving for another score. Subsequently, the offense would march 80 yards for a TD, and a commanding 14-3 lead. OLB Tully Banta-Cain may have played his best game of the season. He led the team with eight tackles, including six (6) solos...and was a going concern on passing downs. Reserve Dane Fletcher added a fumble recovery in the third quarter, and a pick in the end zone, on the Bills' final drive:
    GRADE: A-;

    3.) SECONDARY: Patrick Chung has his best game in weeks, as he finished with seven tackles (all solos), and a back-breaking interception. With two and a half minutes to play in the first half, he picked off an errant Ryan Fitzpatrick pass at the Buffalo 46 yard line...and returned it 19 yards, setting the Patriots up with a first down at the Buffalo 27. From there, the Brady led offense cashed in, upping the Patriots' lead to a seemingly insurmountable 24-3. Thereafter, throughout the remainder of the game, Fitzpatrick and the Bills seemingly threw solely in Kyle Arrington's direction, with some measure of success. Look for teams to take a similar tact in the play-offs. Because of the tendency to pick on Arrington, Devin McCourty saw little action. But, he did cause a fumble, late in the 3rd quarter, which was recovered by Eric Moore. Early in the second half, Jarrad Page picked off a Fitzpatrick pass, giving the Pats possession at the Buffalo 21. Brady and company had no trouble negotiating that short a distance, putting the Pats ahead, 31-3. There was also a Darius Butler sighting. With the shaky play of Arrington, let's hope the Butler might eventually be an improvement:
    GRADE: A-;


         C.) SPECIAL TEAMS: 
    Marked improvement in kick coverage, against a dangerous kick returning team. Solid job of punting in tough weather conditions by "Zoltan the Magnificent". Solid place-kicking by Shayne Graham:
    GRADE: B+;


         D.) COACHING: Kudos again to BB and his staff, especially in fashioning the defense. This crew managed to successfully cut and paste within the front seven again, despite missing Brandon Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham, Mike Wright, Brandon Deaderick, Myron Pryor, and a weakened Ron Brace. As stated in previous report cards, I love how BB is using 5'7" Danny Woodhead...fighting the temptation to over-use him. Though there were a few too many penalties, the fact that this team churned out yet another turnover free game continues to speak volumes for the discipline that Belichick has instilled in his team:
    GRADE: A+;


         E.) PLAY OF THE GAME: Two come to mind...the strip-sack in the red zone, late in the first quarter by Gary Guyton, and the Chung interception late in the second quarter. I'll go with the strip-sack, which seemed to permanently change the momentum of the game; 

         
          F.) PLAYER OF THE GAME:
    Danny Woodhead.

         Here are the game stats: http://scores.espn.go.com/nfl/boxscore?gameId=301226002.

         Thoughts?  


     
     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from BostonTrollSpanker. Show BostonTrollSpanker's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD

    I agree with the general assessment (and thanks for the smartest post-game wrap I see each week), in particular with the smart coaching given all of our injuries.

    However, one thing I think is interesting: the Pats graded out much higher from you this week than last week, but I'd argue that last week the Pats didn't look as good because they played a darn good team. This week they didn't play a darn good team and so consquently they looked much better. Maybe there needs to be a final "degree of difficulty" grade or something to acknowledge that. 

    having said it, it was a huge win as it gives BB the room to game plan next week with setting up for the playoffs - most teams will not have that luxury. Even the Colts will be playing for their lives next week. 
     
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  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from TexasPat3. Show TexasPat3's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD

    In Response to Re: Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD:
    I agree with the general assessment (and thanks for the smartest post-game wrap I see each week), in particular with the smart coaching given all of our injuries. However, one thing I think is interesting: the Pats graded out much higher from you this week than last week, but I'd argue that last week the Pats didn't look as good because they played a darn good team.
     
    RESPONSE: Sorry, but I must disagree. The Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers are not that good. With Matt Flynn at QB, the Pats should have won that game fairly easily. Green Bay has a mediocre at best OL, and no running game. Yet, the Patriots' defense allowed guys like RB Brandon Jackson and FB John Kuhn to look like all-stars. Simply put, the Pats' had a let down, and played a very poor defensive game. Only a gift pick-6 from Flynn, a once in a life-time kickoff return by Dan Connolly, and the 4th quarter heroics of Danny Woodhead, kept the Patriots from being embarrassed on national television. 

    This week they didn't play a darn good team and so consquently they looked much better. Maybe there needs to be a final "degree of difficulty" grade or something to acknowledge that.

    RESPONSE: Buffalo had won 4 of it's last six games, and should have beaten both the Steelers, and Ravens in Baltimore. An argument can be made that the Bills' offense is every bit as good, if not better, than the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers' offense. The Patriots placed much better today on defense, than they had against the Packers. 

    having said it, it was a huge win as it gives BB the room to game plan next week with setting up for the playoffs - most teams will not have that luxury. Even the Colts will be playing for their lives next week.

    RESPONSE: I found myself in the very strange position of rooting for the Colts today, against the Raiders. I had to gargle with hot salt water after that game, to remove the bad taste in my mouth...LOL!!!
    Posted by BostonTrollSpanker

     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from Muzwell. Show Muzwell's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD

    Unless things change, it will be Ravens at Colts and Jets at Chiefs. Indy owns Baltimore. My prediction is welcome back to Foxboro Matt Cassel.
     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from p-mike. Show p-mike's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD

    Unless they lose to Oakland next week, the Chefs will be the #3 seed and would only be visiting Foxboro in the wildly improbable event that they reach the AFC Championship Game.

    KC should handle Green New Jersey at home, sending them off to Bitchburgh in the divisional round. My guess is Peyton Manning no-huddles Baltimore to death and it's the Colts coming in for a beating on the 15th.




     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from nyjoseph. Show nyjoseph's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD

    They also won the "all-important" TOP.Wink

     
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    Re: Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD

    Excellent assessment TexasPat!
     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from BostonTrollSpanker. Show BostonTrollSpanker's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD

    OK Tex, fair enough - we'll agree to disagree on the Bills versus the Packers. :) 

    All I will say is that the Pack spanked the Giants today and Rogers back makes them better but that wasn't by any means the only reason they did so. 

    Just curious though - why were you rooting for Indy today? 
     
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from PatsRfineIn09. Show PatsRfineIn09's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD

    Big Congrats to the Pats! LawWood have now combined for 17 rushing TD's and over 1400 yards rushing. Gronk was great again and the depleted D forced SEVEN TO's. It was really 9 or 10, we stopped the bills on 4th down too which is a turnover in my book.

    Who does that?'

    ps - SD IS DONEEEE, Congrats KC
     
  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from TexasPat3. Show TexasPat3's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD

    In Response to Re: Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD:
    OK Tex, fair enough - we'll agree to disagree on the Bills versus the Packers. :)  All I will say is that the Pack spanked the Giants today and Rogers back makes them better but that wasn't by any means the only reason they did so.  Just curious though - why were you rooting for Indy today? 
    Posted by BostonTrollSpanker


         After Jacksonville lost to the lowly Redskins, it meant that all the Colts had to do was beat the terrible Titans at home to clinch the AFC South. So...I rooted for Indy to beat the Raiders because the Pats own Oakland's #1 pick in the up-coming draft. The more games that the Raiders lose, the higher that pick will be. 
     
  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from TexasPat3. Show TexasPat3's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD

         Here's a look at the game...and a report card...from the Bills' point of view: http://rochesterhomepage.net/fulltext/?nxd_id=225297
     
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    Re: Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD

    A+
     
  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from GadisRKO. Show GadisRKO's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD

    We crushed the bills once again, great to see.
     
  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from TexasPat3. Show TexasPat3's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD

    In Response to Re: Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD:
    We crushed the bills once again, great to see.
    Posted by GadisRKO


         Yep...15 straight, and counting: http://www.examiner.com/sports-in-boston/patriots-break-nfl-record-with-15th-straight-victory-over-bills
     
  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from trouts. Show trouts's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD

     TPat: Just a comment about the secondary. It is clear that at this point that McCourty is a better corner than Arrington. While Arrington has made progress and is a good tackler, he is certain to get picked on in the playoffs. What troubles me most about the situation is that Meriweather never seems to be able to get over in time to help out deep. Arrington doesn't play as soft as Hobbs, but I keep thinking how easy it was for Plaxico to beat Hobbs in the Super Bowl and I see the same thing happening to Arrington. What do you think?
     
  17. You have chosen to ignore posts from CubanPete. Show CubanPete's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD

    Arrington continues to be abysmal.

    He's the weak link on the D.
     
  18. You have chosen to ignore posts from TexasPat3. Show TexasPat3's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD

    In Response to Re: Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD:
     TPat: Just a comment about the secondary. It is clear that at this point that McCourty is a better corner than Arrington. While Arrington has made progress and is a good tackler, he is certain to get picked on in the playoffs. What troubles me most about the situation is that Meriweather never seems to be able to get over in time to help out deep. Arrington doesn't play as soft as Hobbs, but I keep thinking how easy it was for Plaxico to beat Hobbs in the Super Bowl and I see the same thing happening to Arrington. What do you think?
    Posted by trouts


         Yes...Arrington will be targeted. But, what team can really take advantage, other than one...the Indianapolis Colts. I see them as the greatest, and only real threat to the Patriots, in the AFC. 

         As for Meriweather, he continues to take bad angles towards receivers while in coverage. He seems to be too much into making the "big hit", and too much of a gambler. Better that he played it straight out there, and allowed his natural talent to take it's course. In a word, he needs to exercise more "patience" when in coverage. 

         As for winning a championship, I like the Pats' chances. Again, I see the Colts as their main competition in the AFC. In the NFC, the Pats don't have to worry about Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Michael Vick, or Drew Brees. They will just have to beat one of these four in the SB.

         Assuming that the Pats' get there, if they can execute their offense, I don't see a situation of where it comes down to James Jones, Roddy White, DeSean Jackson, or Marques Colston in a "jump ball" type situation, as Hobbs was with Plaxico Burress. None of the aforementioned WRs are 6'5", 235 lbs...like Plax was. Besides, Arrington is an inch taller than Hobbs, and is a much more physical player.  

         But, Hobbs didn't cost the Pats that SB game. The Pats were out-coached, their OL was manhandled, and their defense (Hobbs, Asante Samuel, Harrison, Mike Vrabel, Adalius Thomas, and others) failed to make a play when called upon. Nonetheless, it still took a miraculous catch, and a missed holding call or two, to beat the Pats' "D" on that fateful, final Giants' drive. I don't see such a scenario happening again, should the Pats make it to Dallas.          
     
  19. You have chosen to ignore posts from TexasPat3. Show TexasPat3's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD

         Hey...Smoking Joe...you and your boys were at the game in Buffalo. What was it like? Were the Pats being cheered or jeered by Bills' fans? Or...was it the Bills being jeered, after 7 turnovers? What was the weather like?  
     
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    Re: Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD

    as on PTI errors section....Welker had 3 drops! guy doesnt drop 3 in a season....3 in a game????
     
  21. You have chosen to ignore posts from TexasPat3. Show TexasPat3's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD

         Apparently, the Bills are still licking their wounds after being run into the ground by the Patriots: http://www.buffalonews.com/sports/bills-nfl/article295082.ece
     
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    Re: Patriots @ Bills REPORT CARD

    Hey Tex: I think this is the highest grades you've awarded the D all season. They've come a long way. Solid play all around.
    AFC Champs! How sweet it is.
    GO PATS!
     
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