The matchup between the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills showcased more offense than most people expected; however, the Patriots defense still did plenty enough to help secure the 24-17 win in Week 16.
The Bills did a tremendous job taking care of the ball, as they had zero turnovers in the game. Josh Allen and Cole Beasley also had big games, so it is evident that New England's defense didn't play superb. But being able to still win this game under those circumstances has to be a fantastic feeling for everyone in that locker room.
Here are the grades for some of the Patriots' most intriguing defensive performances.
Stephon Gilmore: B
Stephon Gilmore's job is to neutralize the opposing team's best player, and he did that for most of this game. Gilmore just had one mishap, as he lost Buffalo's John Brown on a 53-yard bomb from Allen. Although that was a major play, the Patriots were able to survive, in large part due to Gilmore keeping Brown quiet for the remainder of the game. Everyone, even Gilmore, gets beat from time to time. He will obsess over that film and be ready to lock down whoever comes next.
Lawrence Guy: A
Lawrence Guy was dominant in the run game with four run stuffs up front. He also added six total tackles and a sack. Guy played a major role in keeping Bills running back Devin Singletary in check, which seemed to be the main focus of New England's defense. If Buffalo was ever going to win that game, it would have been because Allen played out of his mind. That didn't happen.
Dont'a Hightower: A-
Dont'a Hightower finished with five tackles, including 1.5 sacks. Similar to Guy, Hightower's main focus was to stop the run, and although Allen got loose on a few plays, limiting Singletary proved to be a major factor in the outcome of this game. Hightower has struggled against the pass at times this season, so it was good to see him in a position to consistently have an impact on the run game.
JC Jackson: B
JC Jackson finished with six tackles and two pass deflections, but struggled a bit while covering Beasley. Jackson doesn’t work out of the slot often, so it is understandable why Beasley seemed so open at times. Jackson has made his mark covering the deep ball, but with the Bills having Brown and Beasley, two speedy receivers who can use the whole field, someone between Gilmore and Jackson on the field needed to play in some unfamiliar areas. Jackson did just enough to limit any major plays from happening.