3 Takeaways from Patriots' Week 13 Win
The New England Patriots executed their game plan to perfection on Monday night.
New England ran for a season high 222 yards and it made some history with its lack of a passing attack inside Highmark Stadium.
The Patriots set their franchise record for fewest passing attempts in a single game with three and tied the 1968 Kansas City Chiefs for the second-fewest passing attempts in a victory in NFL history, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Monday night's win established the Patriots as the team to beat in the AFC. They have a half-game lead over the three other divisional leaders heading into their Week 14 bye.
Run-Heavy Approach Was Perfectly Executed
The Patriots devised an offensive approach that put rookie quarterback Mac Jones at the least risk possible to make mistakes in poor conditions.
New England loaded up at the line of scrimmage and rode running backs Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson to victory.
Harris' 64-yard touchdown scamper in the first quarter set the tone for how dominant the Patriots could be on the interior. Harris' scoring run was the ninth play of the game from New England.
After that, the Patriots used an eight-play drive headlined by Stevenson to produce a field goal. That score countered the Bills' only touchdown of the night.
The AFC leader had two three-and-out drives for the rest of the contest. One came in the second quarter that was not answered by Buffalo and the other occurred in the fourth quarter.
Buffalo tried to take advantage of its stop in the middle of the fourth, but it failed to turn its next series into any points.
Harris finished with 10 carries for 111 yards and a score. He was not much of a factor in the second half after coming up with an injury.
Stevenson carried most of the load with 24 carries for 78 yards. Brandon Bolden also chipped in 28 yards on four carries.
The effective strategy proved that Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels can concoct a game plan that suits any type of weather and that should scare the rest of the AFC.
Myles Bryant Made Up for Penalty with 4th-Down Pass Breakup
Myles Bryant was at the center of two key plays in the second half.
The first one did not go his way as he was flagged for an unnecessary roughness foul as Josh Allen was running out of bounds in the third quarter.
The 15-yard penalty allowed the Bills to drive into field-goal range to set up Tyler Bass' 35-yard scoring play. Buffalo cut the deficit to one with that kick.
Bryant made up for his penalty on Buffalo's final offensive play. He stood in the middle of Allen's passing viewpoint and broke up a fourth-down throw.
Allen did not make the best decision on that play because he should have thrown inside to Cole Beasley, but his attempt to target Gabriel Davis might have resulted in a score if the ball got past Bryant.
Bryant's pass breakup effectively ended the game and secured the Patriots' ninth win of the season.
Thanks to Bryant and others, the Patriots can sit back during their Week 14 bye and not worry about losing the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
New England Controls the AFC
The AFC No. 1 seed is New England's to lose.
The Patriots are 1.5 games ahead of the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East with a head-to-head tiebreaker and a home game against the second-place team in the division in Week 16 in hand.
New England owns a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Tennessee Titans and it has the best AFC record of any team in the conference at 7-1.
The Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs and Titans all could move level with the Patriots on overall record in Week 14, but none of them will jump the AFC East leader in the standings.
Conference record is the second tiebreaker after head-to-head marks and the Patriots have a two-game edge in the loss column over Tennessee and a three-game lead in the loss column compared to Baltimore and Kansas City.
The Patriots face a potentially tricky test against the Indianapolis Colts out of their bye, but if they pass that test, they just need to win two of their final three games to feel safe about the No. 1 seed.
The Patriots have showed no signs of slowing down during their seven-game winning streak and they proved on Monday that they can win in any conditions.