Pick Six:  Observations from Game Fifteen

The Patriots got past the Buffalo Bills 24-12 at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. It was sloppy game for the passing offenses, but New England’s rushing offense got the better of the Buffalo defense to secure the win. The win snapped a rare two-game losing streak in December and put New England in a position to earn a first round bye in the playoffs.

Six Observations from Game Fifteen

1. Tom Brady had twelve pass plays that ended in an incompletion, interception, or sack. On half of those plays an observer could make an argument that it was not the quarterback’s fault, but five failed pass plays look really bad on Brady. The first scenario we saw possible quarterback mistakes was on third down and medium distance, when the Bills got pressure on Brady and the quarterback threw the ball short to targets on the left sideline (Cordarrelle Patterson in the 2nd and Rob Gronkowski in the 4th). On that miss fire to Gronkowski, receiver Chris Hogan was wide open on a crossing route about five yards down field.

2. The other scenario that seemed to give Tom Brady problems was on play action passes. Brady would turn his back to the defense for the fake toss and then seemed to rush his decision making once he got the defense back in sight. In the 1st he didn’t notice that linebacker Tremaine Edmunds had dropped out of his “blitz” look and was lurking around the line of scrimmage for the pass knock down. Also in the 1st, defensive lineman Harrison Phillips got past the offensive line so Brady essentially threw the ball away in the direction of Rob Gronkowski. A second look at the play shows receiver Cordarrelle Patterson had gotten between defenders on an in-cut about 20 yards down field. In the 3rd, Brady was setting up a screen pass, but seemed surprised to see defensive end Shaq Lawson closing in on him, so he threw the ball away at James Develin’s feet.

3. New England had an impressive ten running plays that gained 10 or more yards, and most of the big gains came on two play concepts. The first was with Sony Michel’s gains of 19, 12, 12, and 17 yards on plays designed to go right up the middle of the line behind fullback James Develin. Two of those runs also had tight end Dwayne Allen motion into the backfield to essentially become a second fullback. On one run Develin trap blocked defensive tackle Star Lotulelei to allow center David Andrews and guard Shaq Mason to release to the second level.

4. The second play concept that saw big gains on the ground took the fullback off the field and used a single back, three receivers, and one tight end grouping. Cordarrelle Patterson had runs of 12, 15, and 27 yards – while Phillip Dorsett also had a 17 yard run – on jet sweeps away from the motion of the offensive line and running back. James White also scored his 27 yard touchdown on a similar looking play: Patterson was in motion behind the quarterback but the handoff went to White right up the middle.

5. It was a good day for the Patriots’ special teams, as punter Ryan Allen and the coverage team downed three punts inside the Bill’s 20 yard line. On the other side, Patriot Matthew Slater tipped a Matt Darr punt resulting in a net-10 yard kick. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski made all four of his scoring kicks, and Buffalo’s average starting field position on his five kickoffs was their 27 yard line.

6. Buffalo rookie quarterback Josh Allen – who had a total of 21 incompletions and interceptions – saw his receivers drop five passes, including three by Isaiah McKenzie. Robert Foster had cornerback Stephon Gilmore beaten up the right sideline for a long pass play in the 1st quarter, but seemed to lose the ball in the sun shine. New England cornerback Jonathan Jones appeared to get away with pass interference on a 3rd quarter ball thrown to Isaiah McKenzie in the end zone. The Bills were fortunate to not get called for an offensive pick on cornerback Jason McCourty on their touchdown pass late in the 4th.

Originally posted on PatsPulplit.com

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