Pats Fight Through Adversity to Beat Bills 25-6
Buffalo -- Someone convince me why the Pats need another receiver after Monday Night's 25-6 win over the Buffalo Bills when Julian Edelman had nine catches for 104 yards. There were reports prior to the game that the Pats were interested in Demaryius Thomas or Golden Tate. That might have been a logical thought when the Pats had only three receivers active in their two road losses in September. But now the Pats offense looks sharp.
Sure, it is disappointing that they were forced to kick four field goals. But the Buffalo defense played hard - trying to give its team respectability when the offense is struggling mightily with QB Derek Anderson who was not in the NFL more than a month ago.
"They played hard and they came hard. Covered hard, they brought game, they weren't backing down at all. When you've got players on the other side of the ball coming hard in the NFL it's always going to be a tough challenge," Rob Gronkowski said.
The Bills held Gronkowski to only three catches even though he was targeted eight times. Though, he did have a big sideline catch that only Gronkowski could make in the second half. With the Bills limiting Gronkowski, the Pats turned to Edelman, James White and Chris Hogan to make key plays. Edelman was effective with his signature 10-15 yard crossing route.
"Julian's done a great job. Really having fun, grinding every day. Our guys come to work every day extremely hard and I'm glad that everything came together for him in this game," said Josh Gordon who finished with four catches for 42 yards in spite reports that he had been tardy.
Stopping Edelman is only the beginning for any defense. White frustrates defenses perhaps more than any other Pats player because all the receivers can be covered and White can catch a five yard pass over the middle and make a lot of yards after the catch. White had 10 catches for 79 yards - just another pedestrian day for a running back who is a fan favorite with 55 catches for 459 yards this season. Maybe, White's biggest play was on third and seven on the fourth quarter drive that led to the Pats only offensive touchdown. Brady threw a check down that he caught and ran nine yards for the first down.
"It was a great play by James," Brady said. "We had something behind it and they kind got a little depth so I had some space to throw to him. But he is such a great space player. When he gets the ball in his hands to make a linebacker miss and get the yards was a huge play."
Chris Hogan also had two big catches. The first a 29-yard catch to begin the second quarter that put the Pats in Buffalo territory and ultimately led to a field goal that gave the Pats a 6-0 league. The second catch helped seal the game as Hogan caught a back shoulder throw from Tom Brady in the fourth quarter at the one yard line with the Pats leading 12-6.
"Hogan had a one on chance and I tried to put a little back shoulder on him and he made a great play," Brady said.
On the next play, the Pats sealed the game with a one-yard James White touchdown run who Brady referred to as sweet feet afterwards. At that point, the Pats led 18-6 and Devin McCourty‘s interception return for a touchdown would seal the victory to make the final score 25-6.
The thinking about acquiring a receiver is that Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Josh Gordon are all free agents at the end of the year. Julian Edelman will turn 33 in the offseason and Cordarrelle Patterson is a gadget player who was the Pats leading rusher Monday Night with 10 rushes for 38 yards. However, the offense has found its chemistry so it does not make sense at this point to trade a high draft pick for a receiver who could struggle to fit into the Pats offense.
The Pats clearly missed the consistent running attack that rookie RB Sony Michel provided in the Pats three game home stretch that led to three wins against the Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs. But the Pats offense has shown an ability to adjust when they are without one of their stars. Last week, the Pats beat the Bears without Gronkowski and Michel going down in the first half. That is what good teams do -win when you don't have your best players.
The Pats head into the second half of the season at 6-2 with a five-game winning streak that might have seemed improbable after a 1-2 start. The Pats have won five straight games. Bill Belichick was proud that his team fought through adversity to win Monday Night despite not having Michel and LB Dont'a Hightower.
"It's what a team does. A team responds. We're light at linebacker, we're light at running back. The guys that played stayed out there and played hard and they were good at those positions," Belichick said.