|Positional Unit||First Half Grades||Game Grades|
Game Analysis for the Buffalo Bills
Pass Offense: Lewis had some nice throws, but the story of the day was the drops on third down. Bills receivers dropped five surefire first downs, which made several drives stall out earlier than they should have. The Bills had no problem moving the ball against the Patriots' bend-but-don’t-break defense, but they could not keep their hands on the ball when they needed to make a play.
Run Offense: As the offense began to gain chunks of yardage through the air, both Spiller and Jackson were able to pick up long runs in the second half. The Bills are most productive on offense when they have a good balance of run versus pass plays. Buffalo found a good combination on Sunday and moved the ball well after a miserable first half.
Pass Defense: Tom Brady finished with fewer than 200 yards passing, as the Patriots relied on the legs of LeGarrette Blount to run out the clock. Still, the lack of passing attempts by Brady should not discount the effort displayed by the secondary. Catch-and-run plays were severely limited by the Bills, as they focused on not letting the Patriots’ shifty receivers get behind them.
Run Defense: Things did not get any better in the second half, as Blount continued to tear up the Bills defense from the inside out. The former Buc had more rushing yards (189) than he did all of last season (151), which is a testament to how bad the Bills were on Sunday afternoon.
Special Teams: Giving up one long return to the big-bodied Blount is inexcusable, but doing so on back-to-back kickoffs? Danny Crossman’s unit has been underwhelming all season, but they saved their ugliest performance for last—one that should have him lose his job this week.
Coaching: The coaching staff made some solid adjustments at halftime, especially on offense, but their inability to stop Blount was a glaring mistake and the sole reason for their double-digit loss. A bitter end to another fruitless season for the Bills franchise.
First-Half Analysis for the Buffalo Bills
Pass Offense: Aside from an early errant pass on a screen, Thad Lewis has looked sharp considering the weather conditions. Scott Chandler has to catch that easy pass from Lewis on the Bills’ second drive. The ball hit the tall tight end straight in the hands past the first-down sticks, which would have put the Bills in position for at least a tie ballgame at six points apiece. Chants for a first-round tight end will get louder as the Bills move into the offseason.
Run Offense: The holes have been there for the Bills, and for the most part they have taken advantage of them. Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller each have more than 40 yards on the ground in the first half, but the offense has sputtered in Patriots territory twice.
Pass Defense: Containing secret superstar Julian Edelman is no easy task, but the Bills have done a good job at limiting yards after the catch. The Patriots like to work the short to medium routes and turn them into big gains, but the Bills have kept the opposing receivers in front of them in the first half. A phantom holding call against Stephon Gilmore is about the only thing he did wrong in the first half.
Run Defense: Putrid. Can that be the only adjective necessary? Marcell Dareus was suspended for an entire half after missing the first quarter last week, each time for conduct detrimental to the team. The Bills were pounded by the Patriots rushing attack and Dareus remained on the sideline—at least Marrone is sticking to his laurels.
Special Teams: Dan Carpenter needs to be re-signed by the team in the offseason. Lewis lost 13 yards deep in Patriots territory, but Carpenter still nailed a 51-yard field goal to account for the Bills’ only point in the game. He’s a game-changer if the team starts becoming competitive.
Coaching: Out-coached across the board. The Bills looked flat from the opening series on both sides of the ball and the play never got any better.