The New England Patriots won an ugly game on the road against the Buffalo Bills almost solely on the strength of their defense and special teams.
A win’s a win.
That’s surely what the New England Patriots players and coaches must be saying to themselves as they head back to Foxborough, one of three remaining undefeated teams in the NFL after Week 4. The defending champs will now have a chance to push their record to 5-0 next Sunday when they travel to take on the 0-4 Washington Redskins.
Winning this week though against the Buffalo Bills was anything but easy… at least for Tom Brady and the offense, that was. Brady finished the day with a dismal 45.9 quarterback rating after completing less than half of his passes, throwing for exactly 150 yards, being held out of the end zone, and tossing his first interception of the season.
Things weren’t much better for his weapons, either. After New England’s receivers collectively posted some of the best marks in the NFL through the first three weeks of the season, the wideouts were far from even adequate in Buffalo. Only running back James White was anything close to reliable in the passing game, securing eight of 10 targets for 57 yards after missing last week’s game to attend the birth of his son.
Every other receiving option for the Pats had numerous drops or gaffes, especially Julian Edelman, who managed to play through a painful chest injury that had threatened his status for the game. Josh Gordon caught less than half his targets and was held under 50 yards, the previously red-hot Phillip Dorsett caught just two balls for 10 yards (on nine targets!), and Jakobi Meyers logged neither a catch nor a target even.
Sony Michel upped his rushing average for the season just a bit, but he still was held under four yards per carry in this contest against Buffalo’s eighth-ranked rushing defense. Michel finished the game with 63 yards on the ground from 17 carries; he did manage to finally break free for a run of longer than 12 yards, though it only went for 15.
New England’s only offensive score of the game came on a four-yard Brandon Bolden run early in the first quarter. The rest of the points for the Patriots came courtesy of a Stephen Gostkowski field goal and a Matthew Slater blocked punt return for a touchdown (J.C. Jackson had the block).
It was a career day for Jackson, who also had two interceptions off of Bills quarterback Josh Allen. Devin McCourty also got an interception off of Allen – extending his impressive streak of picking off a pass in every game the Patriots have played so far this season – and Jamie Collins Sr. essentially ended the game with a pick off backup QB Matt Barkley after Allen had to leave the game with a head injury.
While the New England defense did finally surrender a touchdown – their first of the season on a one-yard Allen dive in the third quarter – Bill Belichick’s unit maintained its strong start to the season, turning in another supremely impressive performance against a talented Bills squad in a hostile environment.
The Patriots held the Bills to just 10 points on the day, and that proved a low enough sum for the team overall to escape with a win after scoring 16 points collectively.
Though Buffalo will get a chance to even the season series in Week 16 up in Foxborough, the Patriots are now 3-0 against their division rivals, and as expected… remain firmly in the driver’s seat for another AFC East crown at the quarter-mark of the 2019 season.