NFL News & Analysis

NE-BUF grades: Tom Brady continues elite-level pace against Bills

BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 30: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots stiff arms Stephon Gilmore #24 of the Buffalo Bills during the second half at New Era Field on October 30, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

New England Patriots 41, Buffalo Bills 25

Here are the top-graded players and biggest storylines from New England’s Week 8 divisional win over Buffalo. 

New England Patriots

Quarterback grade: Tom Brady, 90.0

Brady continues incredible pace

Tom Brady continues to impress, as he finished off a dominant October with possibly his best performance of the season. When faced with a clean pocket (as he was on 26 of 38 dropbacks), Brady was almost perfect, as he completed 21 of 25 tosses for 296 yards, four touchdowns, and posted a QB rating of 155.6. While he failed to connect on all three deep shots to the right of the numbers, his other two shots to the left and middle of the field were both 53-yard touchdown passes—the first to WR Chris Hogan, the second to TE Rob Gronkowski.

Brady vs pressure

Top offensive grades:

QB Tom Brady, 90.0

TE Rob Gronkowski, 89.5

WR Julian Edelman, 77.2

RG Shaquille Mason, 73.5

TE Martellus Bennett, 73.0

Usual suspects come through in big way for Patriots

Five New England receivers caught at least three balls on Sunday, but as is typically the case, it was Gronkowski and Edelman leading the way. Edelman caught Brady’s final touchdown pass of the game to give the Patriots a 21-point lead early in the third quarter, and was effective on underneath routes. Gronkowski was the field-stretcher, as three of his five grabs went for at least 18 yards, including the aforementioned 53-yard score. The New England offensive line struggled with Buffalo’s front on both run and pass plays, giving up five sacks and 17 total pressures against the Bills’ pass rush.

Top defensive grades:

LB Dont'a Hightower, 89.5

CB Malcolm Butler, 82.9

S Devin McCourty, 79.6

CB Logan Ryan, 78.8

DT Alan Branch, 75.1

Secondary has its way with Buffalo’s fill-in skill players

With WR Sammy Watkins on IR and WR Robert Woods and TE Charles Clay both trying to play injured, the Patriots for the most part had strong showings in the secondary. They were led by CB Malcolm Butler, who was targeted eight times but yielded just two catches for 15 yards. Buffalo did have success targeting CB Eric Rowe, as he gave up a 35-yard reception and took three penalties in coverage. Elsewhere, LB Dont'a Hightower had an excellent game in all three facets, as he posted a sack and five total pressures, had three defensive stops, and gave up just one 2-yard reception in coverage.

Buffalo Bills

Quarterback grade: Tyrod Taylor, 81.0

Taylor impresses with legs, but accuracy an issue

Taylor’s strong grade is more reflective of his running, as he forced four missed tackles on four scrambles and ran in for a score from 26 yards out. While his backfield and receiving corps were certainly short-handed, he did not help his skill players with his accuracy problems. He connected on just one of seven deep shots (throws that travel at least 20 yards through the air from the line of scrimmage), and also completed just two of seven throws in the intermediate 10-to-19-yard range.

Tyrod Taylor vs pressure

Top offensive grades:

LT Cordy Glenn, 82.2

RB Mike Gillislee, 81.8

QB Tyrod Taylor, 81.0

LG Richie Incognito, 78.5

WR Walt Powell, 70.7

Gillislee fills in nicely for the injured McCoy

Although the game script limited him to just 12 carries, Gillislee made the most of his opportunities by rushing for 85 yards (7.1 average) and forcing three missed tackles. The offensive line generally performed well (outside of C Eric Wood, who posted a 42.3 overall grade); although three players gave up at least three hurries, the unit did not give up a sack and yielded just one hit.

Top defensive grades:  

DT Kyle Williams, 83.3

S Corey Graham, 81.1

DT Marcell Dareus, 81.0

CB Ronald Darby, 79.8

DE Adolphus Washington, 78.4

Inability to stop big plays dooms Buffalo defense

CB Stephon Gilmore reverted back to the form he displayed way back in Week 2 against the Jets, as he gave up catches on four of five targets for 105 yards. Two of them were game-changing plays as well, as he was responsible for Hogan’s long touchdown grab and a 33-yard gain by Gronkowski. He also took two penalties in coverage and missed a tackle. DT Kyle Williams was clearly the best player on the Bills’ defense on Sunday, as he posted a sack, three hits, and a hurry, and also tallied a run stop.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Patriots QB Tom Brady

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.


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