by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
Going up to Buffalo, the Patriots looked primed for an upset. They carried with them an allegedly treacherous receiver (Randy Moss) and a lack of defensive linemen (Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren injured). Plus, they didn’t exactly scare anyone with their 1-5 record away from home.
Despite all that, New England managed a 14-3 halftime lead over the Bills and hung on for a 17-10 win. With losses by the Dolphins and Jets, the Pats now sit two games in front of the AFC East race with two to play.
A few notes…
Colossus Of Road: Behold, ladies and gentlemen! One of the Seven Wonders of the World – a Patriots road victory! A fluke, or a sign of good things to come? Stay tuned.
An A-Paul-ling First Quarter: Not a great game for Tom Brady, who got intercepted by linebacker Paul Posluszny when he threw the ball into coverage thicker than Posluszny’s neck (my God, just look at that thing). Brady hit on fewer than half of his passes (11 for 23) for only 115 yards.
The good news? Moss had five catches for 70 yards and a sweet toe-tapping touchdown in the back of the end zone. Not a bad week for a guy accused of shutting it down for the season.
The Penalty’s Mightier: Though pass completions proved hard to come by, pass interference yardage abounded, as yellow flags in the second quarter set up New England’s two TDs. For the game, Buffalo got penalized 11 times for 124 yards, more than the Pats’ ground game (109 yards) and passing game (115).
When Do You Get Your Brace Off: Tough start for rookie defensive tackle Ron Brace, who got pushed around during Buffalo’s opening drive, then got called for a facemask penalty in the fourth that negated a sack. To his credit, Brace did tally four tackles.
Get Up, Stand Up: On passing downs, New England employed the ol’ cocktail party formation, i.e., a bunch of guys milling around the line of scrimmage. This confusing defense led to six sacks, three by Tully Banta-Cain and one each by Derrick Burgess, Gary Guyton and Mike Wright.
Speaking of the latter…
All Wright Already: Great overall game by defensive lineman Wright, who fought for six tackles, including the aforementioned sack and an impressive hustle play where he caught receiver Josh Reed downfield late in the fourth.
Rushin’ Rule It: Though he averaged less that 3.5 yards per carry, Laurence Maroney (23 rushes, 81 yards, one TD) fought hard for every inch and showed consistency in finding the open gap.
Barely Koppen: It seemed that whenever Maroney got stopped behind the line of scrimmage, center Dan Koppen was standing looking toward the play. Never a good sign.
Up Against The Vollmer: Watching the play of rookie offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer, all we can say is that it feels good to have the right tackle position solidified.
Next week, the Pats finish up their home regular-season schedule with Jacksonville, coming off a tough loss to the Colts. A win, and New England takes the AFC East. Let’s not think about the alternative right now.
Email Chris Warner at firstname.lastname@example.org