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Week 16 Game Recap: Buffalo Bills 16, New England Patriots 37


What you need to know

Buffalo Bills

Buffalo's offense started well early in the game, but stagnated later in the game. Buffalo set up misdirection to get plays for LeSean McCoy and Charles Clay, and were able to get Deonte Thompson deep for a chunk gain. Buffalo's offense got in bad spots with penalties and bad play calling in the second half, and their offense fell off New England's pace. Kelvin Benjamin had the best game of his time with Buffalo, beating Stephon Gilmore multiple times and showing a good rhythm with Tyrod Taylor for the first time.

New England Patriots

The New England Patriots struggled early against the Buffalo defense, but were able to wear the Buffalo's defense down in the second half. The focal point of the New England offense was Dion Lewis. Lewis ran well in the second half when he was elusive and forced missed tackles against a Buffalo defense that has struggled to tackle recently. Lewis scored both a running and a receiving touchdown while Mike Gillislee punched in a goal line score. Rob Gronkowski was the leading receiver, and scored a highlight touchdown on a back shoulder throw, and drew a defensive pass interference on a would be second touchdown.

Buffalo Bills

QB Tyrod Taylor, 70 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 38 - 281 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 16 - 0
Tyrod Taylor had an up and down day against New England. On the positive side, Taylor found his best success of the season with Kelvin Benjamin. Taylor found Benjamin on key perimeter routes, which is the first time the two had found a rhythm together this season. Taylor also threw a fade to Kelvin Benjamin for what was initially ruled a touchdown. The play was later overturned on replay as the NFL ruled Benjamin did not establish control of the ball with two feet in bounds, on a call that had tenuous video support at best. On the negative side, Taylor struggled with deep perimeter passes, including deep targets to Charles Clay and Deonte Thompson. He also was contained in the pocket as the Patriots were effective containing his rushing ability. Taylor was held scoreless after Benjamin's call was overturned, and was also hurt by an end zone drop by Charles Clay.

RB LeSean McCoy, 50 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 71 - 0, Rec: 5 - 76 - 0 (7 targets)
LeSean McCoy was an early focus of the Buffalo offense with runs of eight and nine yards on the first drive. McCoy found his best success up the middle and on the left side of the line. He was involved in the red zone, with carries in the red zone and a target, but was unable to score a touchdown. McCoy was elusive, including a 39-yard reception that showcased the best of McCoy's elusiveness. McCoy was spelled by Mike Tolbert in odd places, including a spread set where Tolbert recorded a drop at a key point in the second half. McCoy had conversions in key spots, but Buffalo did not get McCoy the ball enough in the most important spots of a key game.

RB Mike Tolbert, 15 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - -3 - 0, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (2 targets)
Mike Tolbert split time as LeSean McCoy's backup with Travaris Cadet. Tolbert was largely ineffective, recording a key drop, and lost three yards on three carries.

RB Travaris Cadet, 5 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0 (1 targets)
Travaris Cadet's day was cut short by a bad looking ankle injury on his only carry of the game. The injury was later reported as a dislocated ankle.

WR Kelvin Benjamin, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 70 - 0 (7 targets)
Kelvin Benjamin had his best day as a member of the Buffalo Bills. Benjamin saw a lot of coverage by Stephon Gilmore, and Benjamin had success against Gilmore. He was successful on the perimeter on curl, back-shoulder and comeback routes, and broke a big run after the catch for 35 yards against the Patriots. Benjamin was targeted on a fade in the corner of the end zone for what was initially ruled a touchdown. Benjamin bobbled the ball on the play, and the replay did not appear conclusive in anyway to overturn the call. However, the call was overturned and ruled an incomplete pass. Buffalo targeted Gilmore in Buffalo's first matchup against New England, but the targets were to Zay Jones and largely ineffective. Benjamin allowed Buffalo to expose what they saw as holes in Gilmore's game.

WR Deonte Thompson, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 91 - 0 (5 targets)
Deonte Thompson played well against New England. He was involved early on a flat pass where Thompson was shifty after the catch. Thompson also had a big corner route for 46 yards on a well set up play against under coverage. Thompson continued to be the primary deep target in the Buffalo offense.

WR Zay Jones, 53 offensive snaps (1 targets)
For the second consecutive week, Zay Jones had no impact on the Buffalo offense. He was held without a target and is behind Kelvin Benjamin, Deonte Thompson, LeSean McCoy and Charles Clay in the Buffalo passing game.

TE Charles Clay, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 37 - 0 (10 targets)
Charles Clay was the most targeted receiver for Buffalo, but his day was largely a game of what might have been. He had two red zone targets, one a rushed throw by Taylor that was off target, and a second that was dropped. He also had a deep target along the perimeter that could have been a big play but the throw was wide and off target. He was also targeted on a deep corner route, but Taylor could not fit the ball into double coverage. Clay remained a crucial piece in the Buffalo offense, and saw expanded usage, including splitting out wide in the formation, something Clay has done little of this season.


New England Patriots

QB Tom Brady, 67 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 28 - 224 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 6 - 0
Tom Brady struggled for much of the game against Buffalo. Brady threw an interception intended for Kenny Britt that was undercut by Safety Jordan Poyer. Brady was late on the throw as he scanned back to the middle of the field off his first read, allowing Poyer to undercut the throw. Brady also missed a big play to Brandin Cooks on a go route. Cooks beat Tre'Davious White on a go route, and Brady overthrew him. He also threw behind Rob Gronkowski on a slant route. Brady was also to convert two touchdowns, the first a back-shoulder throw to Gronkowski who made a highlight catch, and the second, a screen to Dion Lewis. Both scores were more the work of his receivers than Brady himself. Brady could have had a third touchdown but Gronkowski was interfered with in the end zone, which set up a rushing touchdown.

RB Dion Lewis, 51 offensive snaps, Rush: 24 - 129 - 1, Rec: 5 - 24 - 1 (5 targets)
Dion Lewis got the start for the New England Patriots and was a focal point from the outset. Lewis did not find success early, but the cumulative effect of his touches paid off late in the game when Lewis gashed Buffalo for multiple chunk runs. Lewis ran on the interior and found success on the left side of the formation late in the game. Lewis scored a receiving touchdown on a well-run screen pass in the fourth quarter and later added a score on the ground. Lewis was shifty and committed in the running game, and his elusiveness paid off against a worn-down Buffalo defense. Lewis was the clear lead back with Rex Burkhead inactive. Mike Gillislee did get the opportunity for a goal line carry that he converted, but Lewis capitalized on his other red zone usage.

RB Mike Gillislee, 15 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 28 - 1, Rec: 1 - 15 - 0 (1 targets)
Gillislee was active for the first time in over a month as the clear second back behind Dion Lewis. Gillislee served as Dion Lewis's backup with Rex Burkhead injured, and was involved to spell Lewis. He converted on a goal line opportunity, and ran hard on his seven touches. Gillislee best showing was a screen pass which he caught and ran for 15 yards.

WR Danny Amendola, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 28 - 0 (3 targets)
Danny Amendola was limited to three targets on the game, all in the short and intermediate area of the field. Much of the passing game on the day ran through Dion Lewis and Rob Gronkowski, which left little for Amendola when New England only passed 28 times.

WR Brandin Cooks, 65 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0, Rec: 2 - 19 - 0 (5 targets)
Brandin Cooks was shadowed for a good portion of the game by Tre'Davious White and was limited to two short curl routes. Despite his poor box score numbers, Cooks could have had a much bigger day. He beat White on a go route that Tom Brady over threw Cooks on, and later drew a deep defensive pass interference against Micah Hyde.

WR Phillip Dorsett, 26 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 24 - 0 (1 targets)
Phillip Dorsett caught his lone target in the flat and flashed some agility making two defenders miss for a 24-yard gain. Dorsett was not otherwise involved the offense.

WR Kenny Britt, 9 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 16 - 0 (2 targets)
Kenny Britt was held to only one catch on an intermediate inbreaking route. Britt was the intended receiver on Tom Brady's interception, where Britt ran a slant. Brady was late throwing to Britt, but Britt did not have a good feel on how to react to Buffalo's zone coverage on the play.

TE Rob Gronkowski, 66 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 67 - 1 (7 targets)
Rob Gronkowski led the Patriots in receiving against the Buffalo Bills. Gronkowski was used up the seam and in the middle of the field frequently where he was able to expose a weak Buffalo linebacking corp. He scored a touchdown on a back-shoulder throw that he caught, and tip toed into the end zone along the sideline. Gronkowski's day could have been bigger, as he was interfered with on an end zone target. The pass interference set up a New England rushing touchdown.