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Tom Brady’s surprisingly poor performance owed much to his offensive line against the Bills. The unit struggled throughout the contest, particularly on the interior, where Joe Thuney, Ted Karras and Shaq Mason all endured disappointing afternoons. Cohesion and communication were an issue, with stunts a primary source of pressure for the Bills.
New England’s desperation for another wide receiver is obvious. They lacked the personnel to break off big plays after the catch or beat the Bills’ corners when matched up man-to-man. In general, their wideouts struggled to hold onto passes in traffic. Julian Edelman had one egregious drop with a ton of yards after the catch on offer over the middle. Their only big play to speak of came on a controversial pick play, which could easily have been overturned on challenge.
Outside of some throws late in the game, the Patriots’ secondary had the Bills’ receivers locked down. The Bills struggled to get separation, which led to a handful of coverage sacks for the Patriots.
Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson had a game to remember. He made two tremendous interceptions and blocked a punt, which was returned for a touchdown in the first quarter. After his blocked punt, Jackson forced a promising Bills drive to stall with an interception of an underthrown pass by Josh Allen near the Patriots’ 10-yard line. His second pick came in the third frame when he made a leaping grab along the sideline.
The Bills’ defensive line is legit. It’s balanced, powerful and deep. Jerry Hughes and Trent Murphy offer significant threat as the speed rushers off the edge, Shaq Lawson brings the power and Star Lotuleilei and Ed Oliver eat space. Even that is a bit of a disservice because each has a diverse skillset that can impact the game in a number of ways.
Levi Wallace would have enjoyed one of the best statistical performances of any corner this season if he wasn’t tripped up on an uncalled pick play. Although he didn’t make many plays on the ball and won’t show up on any post-game highlight reels, his consistently tight coverage forced Brady into a number of errant throws. He must have been targeted on close to double figures during the game and gave up only a single catch.
Frank Gore appeared to have taken a drink from the Fountain of Youth before this game. The seasoned veteran was explosive, forcing several missed tackles while showing great burst. He would have had an even bigger day if the Bills didn’t have to sling it for most of the second half.
Josh Allen struggled heavily before he was knocked out of the game early in the fourth quarter. He was inaccurate on many of his throws and careless on several others. It also seemed as if he was also uncomfortable in the pocket, although the Patriots didn’t force too much pressure.