Bills vs. Patriots: Live Grades and Analysis for New England

Sterling XieCorrespondent IIDecember 29, 2013

Brady and the Pats sealed up a first-round bye.
Brady and the Pats sealed up a first-round bye.Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The New England Patriots clinched a first-round bye with a win in their regular-season finale against the Buffalo Bills.

Check out final grades and analysis below.



Buffalo - 20

New England - 34

New England Patriots Grades
Position Unit1st Half GradeFinal Grade
Pass OffenseB-C+
Run OffenseAA+
Run DefenseB+B-
Pass DefenseBB-
Special TeamsAA
vs. Bills

Game Analysis for the New England Patriots

Pass Offense: Brady really didn’t look comfortable on any pass travelling further than 10 yards and was content to allow Edelman and the running backs to control the game. He did throw a touchdown to Shane Vereen in the flat for the second straight week. Brady’s pick was a result of Vereen bobbling a screen pass rather than a poor throw or decision.

Run Offense: This unit was quiet for most of the half but still racked up 269 yards. Blount finished with 334 all-purpose yards, setting a new team record. A Patriots team that has failed to pass its way to a championship in recent seasons looks like it might choose the ground route this year.

Run Defense: Buffalo had much more success against New England’s sub packages, particularly on halfback draws, and finished with 4.8 yards per carry. Fred Jackson in particular was a thorn in the Pats' side, accounting for 113 total yards and a touchdown.

Pass Defense: Buffalo made its fair share of big plays, as Lewis posted a solid 8.5 yards per attempt. The Pats did sack him three times, including on a late third down in the red zone. Lewis is not the type of quarterback New England will face in the playoffs, but the defense executed the game plan well enough to stop Buffalo from seriously threatening the result.

Special Teams: Blount can apparently do no wrong, as the league’s heftiest kick returner rumbled for 82- and 62-yard kick returns. Gostkowski also had a 35-yarder to make it a two-possession game late, and Nate Ebner recovered an onside kick to seal the game. On the minus side, Brady’s fun surprise punt only worked out to a 32-yard net.

Coaching: For the second straight week, the Patriots came out with a laser-like focus, though things were a bit dicier late today. Remember the midseason stretch when slow starts plagued the team? Looks like Belichick and Co. have gotten that rectified, and the Pats look ready for the postseason.


LeGarrette Blount ran wild all day.
LeGarrette Blount ran wild all day.Jim Rogash/Getty Images

First-Half Analysis for the New England Patriots

Pass Offense: The miserable conditions have made passing nearly impossible, and Tom Brady is just 10-of-17 for 93 yards. The passing game has consisted of a heavy dose of screens, mostly to Julian Edelman, who has caught seven of those 10 completions. A bit of a throwback to the early aughts' passing game today.

Run Offense: The Patriots’ power run-oriented game plan has produced spectacular results. New England, which averages 120 rushing yards per game, already has an eye-popping 173 yards. LeGarrette Blount continues his strong second half of the season, with 118 yards and 7.9 (!) per carry. Only demerit—Blount and Vereen each fumbled, though the Pats recovered both.

Run Defense: C.J. Spiller ripped off a 24-yard run on Buffalo’s first drive, but the Patriots have mostly done a good job of gap containment since. Minus that run, the Bills are averaging 3.6 yards per carry. Rob Ninkovich had the half’s key play, bursting into the backfield for a stop on 4th-and-1.

Pass Defense: Thad Lewis hit a couple of vertical passes early, but the Pats have mostly kept him under control. New England has tried to confuse the young quarterback by showing blitz looks and backing out at the last moment to clog the passing lanes. Buffalo is not really looking to pass except for on third down, so we’ll see if it challenges the Pats secondary more in the second half.

Special Teams: Stephen Gostkowski nailed three field goals, and Ryan Allen had a beautiful punt that pinned the Bills inside the 10. New England continues to receive stellar results from its kicking game, even in the wet weather.

Coaching: The offense is doing a nice job of mixing up the pace and committing to the run game. Having built a lead, the Patriots can continue bullying the Bills on the ground, while also forcing the inexperienced Lewis into passing downs. Good situation here for the Pats.