Looking back at Buffalo

Just got done filing my game review from the Buffalo game, and a few notes, starting with my top and bottom five players from the game.

Top 5 Patriots

  1. Sebastian Vollmer, RT: Completely erased Bills DE Mario Williams, the $100 million man, from the game.
  2. Tom Brady, QB: Continued his stellar play from the Ravens. One poor throw behind Wes Welker, probably one other decision he would want back.
  3. Brandon Bolden, RB: Broke five tackles that accounted for 25 percent of his yards, but vision and patience were more impressive.
  4. Chandler Jones, DE: Once again, was the pass rush with half sack (I have Jermaine Cunningham the other half because he made the play), a hurry and 1.5 knockdowns. Didn’t have a negative play.
  5. Devin McCourty, CB: On first interception, he was beat. The second was textbook Cover 3 coverage. No negative plays (as opposed to his secondary mates).

Just missing the cut

  • Brandon Spikes, LB: Yes, his two forced fumbles were humongous. But teammates set him up for his backside pursuit on both plays. More importantly, I couldn’t ignore two blown gaps on big runs and a failed jam on Scott Chandler’s touchdown.
  • Wes Welker, WR: You want to know why Welker is so important to this offense and Brady? Watch the 19-yard pass to him with 4:49 left in the third quarter. Welker ran an “S” route where he went inside the slot corner, outside the linebacker and then bent back to the middle of the field and as he flipped his head, Brady hit him in stride. No one else on this team – and few other players in the league – can make that play. Not to mention the ridiculous catch by Welker on third down with 5:47 to play. But he, like Rob Gronkowski (who also had a drop), did fumble. Can’t ignore that.
  • Nate Solder, LT: Only four negative plays, including a half hurry and half run stuff, is terrific work on the edge.
  • Dan Connolly, RG: Also had four negative plays, but was asked to pull a lot in this game and he teed off on the Bills’ puny linebackers and defensive backs.

Bottom 5

  1. Donald Thomas, LG: It’s too bad the secondary spread out its bad play so much, because Thomas doesn’t deserve this. He did a lot of good things in this game and was far from poor. But at the end of the day, he did allow a half sack, 2.5 hurries, two stuffed runs and a knockdown that almost injured Tom Brady.
  2. Stephen Gostkowski, K: He missed two very makeable kicks, and I don’t think they were on the operation. Yes, holder Zoltan Mesko tilted the ball, but he always does that. I just think he missed.
  3. Patrick Chung, S: Had a couple of good plays, and the first Scott Chandler touchdown was a tough play, but the Donald Jones touchdown and a few other blown coverages were just inexcusable.
  4. Tavon Wilson, S: Had the gift-wrapped interception and a couple of nice plays early, but he really struggled in coverage at times. Not sure if it was just installed and hasn’t been repped, but the Patriots were running an inverted Cover 3 with Wilson in the middle and the Bills ate that up because Wilson was late.
  5. Sterling Moore, CB: He’s lucky the Patriots weren’t playing against a good quarterback, because he blew a few coverages.

The overriding thought, which I wrote about for Wednesday’s paper: Most of the Patriots’ team feels like it’s ready to explode and play really good football. But the secondary, outside of McCourty and Kyle Arrington, was rife with errors against the Bills. It needs to get cleaned up over the final 12 games.


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