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Other Week 13 Game Recaps

Week 13 Game Recap: New England Patriots 23, Buffalo Bills 3

What you need to know

New England Patriots

-Gronk's situation bears watching, as it will have ramifications across the whole offense. He will be suspended for one game. -Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis look to be in a timeshare for running back touches, though Burkhead has seen more red zone volume the last few weeks.

Buffalo Bills

Buffalo's offense was able to move the ball against New England's defense, but stalled out at key points in the game. Tyrod Taylor threw an interception in the red zone and Nathan Peterman was unable to convert on four plays on his red zone trip. Buffalo was able to create running room for LeSean McCoy but was unable to sustain consistent volume as Buffalo fell behind. The Buffalo passing offense struggled, particularly with Zay Jones struggling to create separation against Stephon Gilmore in the red zone. Joe Webb was used in the wildcat formation which created running opportunities and just missed a touchdown on a deep throw to Travaris Cadet.

New England Patriots

QB Tom Brady, 68 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 30 - 258 - 0 TD / 1 INT
In what you could call a rarity, Tom Brady didn't need to do much against the Bills. That is because the run game and defense dominated the day. In fact, Brady didn't throw a single touchdown, and beyond his connection with Gronk, most passes were shorter gains. The two plays that will stick out from this game for most people were lowlights for Brady. One, he missed Brandin Cooks on a deep throw, but had other receivers open. That resulted in a screaming match on the sideline between Brady and his offensive coordinator, but that doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things. Brady's interception was the other big play, as he underthrew Gronk on a deeper route. However, Gronk delivered a late hit to the defender after the play, and there's a chance he's suspended for the shot. Beyond that, protection was adequate against Buffalo, and Brady may have bigger days going forward.

RB Dion Lewis, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 15 - 92 - 0
Dion Lewis helped pave the way for the offense along with Rex Burkhead, as the running game and defense led the way against the Bills. Lewis routinely ripped off positive gains, including a few chunk plays. His biggest play of the day was a 44 yard scamper up the gut, which he cut to the sideline and shed a couple tacklers. He then danced his way up the sideline, displaying tremendous balance as he continued to gain yards. Lewis also had a 15 yard gain to the one yard line, but Rex Burkhead nabbed the touchdown. Lewis has been a key cog in the run game over the past month, and should continue to be so.

RB Rex Burkhead, 22 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 78 - 2, Rec: 3 - 25 - 0 (4 targets)
Along with Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead helped pave the way for the run game, dominating the Bills on the ground. Burkhead scored two touchdowns, one being of the short 1 yard variety. The other was a nice 14 yard burst up the middle, cutting back and fighting defenders to barely score a touchdown. Burkhead also had a nice 30+ yard gain from the shotgun formation, displaying a one cut and go move with some decent speed to boot. Burkhead has been integrated fully into the offense since coming back from injury in multiple game phases.

RB James White, 28 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 18 - 0, Rec: 4 - 32 - 0 (6 targets)
With the run game and defense dominating the Bills, James White wasn't needed much, as the passing game was not the focal point on the day. Given that Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis can play the passing game if needed, White's role looks to be a bit one beyond obvious passing scenarios.

WR Brandin Cooks, 68 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0, Rec: 2 - 17 - 0 (3 targets)
Cooks had a fairly quiet day, as the passing game ran through Rob Gronkowski against the Bills. He was missed on a couple deep connections, but didn't see his typical volume due to game script. Better days will be ahead.

WR Danny Amendola, 32 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 34 - 0 (4 targets)
Beyond a nice 27 yard gain to start the day along the sideline, Amendola was fairly quiet, as the passing game took a backseat to the run game.

TE Rob Gronkowski, 65 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 147 - 0 (11 targets)
Gronk had a big day against the Bills, routinely ripping off chunk gains and big plays. Even when double covered, he was still targeted relentlessly, and it paid off. However, all that paled in comparison to the cheap shot he laid on a Bills defender who intercepted a pass. The defender was blatantly interfering with Gronk and it wasn't called, so the hit was likely from frustration. Still, it was something that wasn't necessary, and there may be a big fine or even suspension coming.

Buffalo Bills

QB Tyrod Taylor, 46 offensive snaps, Pass: 9 - 18 - 65 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 32 - 0
Tyrod Taylor appeared to injure his knee on the first play from scrimmage, a scramble where he was tackled along the sideline. Taylor hobbled for the next few plays, but remained in the game for three quarters. Taylor was largely ineffective throwing the ball, showing inaccuracy when he was able to throw the ball down the field. Taylor's offensive weapons did not create much space, and Taylor does not show comfort throwing the ball into tight windows. In addition, Taylor too frequently throws the ball under the yard to gain on third down and his receivers are not a dynamic enough to create yards after the catch necessary to move the chains. Taylor was held without a score and threw an interception at the end of the first drive. The throw was as bad of a throw Taylor made all year. The formation was empty with LeSean McCoy and Charles Clay running inbreaking routes. Taylor held onto the ball too long on the route, then was hit when he let it go. The ball came out of his hand poorly, and was intercepted by New England. Taylor was effective running he ball, scrambling for multiple first downs, including an 18-yard run on third and 11 that could have been an even bigger play, but Taylor just stepped out of bounds. Taylor's accuracy was harmed by the fact he was not healthy during the game, and Taylor was finally forced from the game with a knee injury after successive hits at the beginning of the fourth quarter with a knee injury.

QB Nathan Peterman, 21 offensive snaps, Pass: 6 - 15 - 50 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0
Nathan Peterman came in to the game in the fourth quarter in relief of an injured Tyrod Taylor. Peterman made more decisive throws than Tyrod Taylor but multiple were nearly intercepted. Peterman was wild, missing multiple throws high and wide of receivers. Peterman did manage to lead a drive down to the red zone where he targeted Zay Jones in the end zone three times against CB Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore broke up two of the balls and the third was over the head of Zay Jones. Peterman continued a season long trend of Buffalo quarterbacks by throwing under the yardage to gain on third and fourth down, including a check down to Travaris Cadet on 4th and 15 which resulted in a turnover on downs.

RB LeSean McCoy, 41 offensive snaps, Rush: 15 - 93 - 0, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (5 targets)
LeSean McCoy was the early beneficiary of running room against New England's defense, particularly in runs up the middle. McCoy had 10 of his 15 carries in the first half, and Buffalo was able to get a rhythm going early while maintaining run favorable game script. McCoy was less used in the second half as New England scored at the end of the second quarter and early in the third quarter to put Buffalo behind. McCoy did have a drop in the passing game, and was targeted near the goal line on a ball he caught but could not extend across the line to gain. The running game was non-existent on Buffalo's goal line opportunities. McCoy did cede more work to Travaris Cadet than he previously lost to Mike Tolbert, both in the passing and running game, but McCoy remained a high usage player in the offense.

RB Travaris Cadet, 28 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 22 - 0, Rec: 3 - 19 - 0 (5 targets)
Travaris Cadet continued to be the primary backup to LeSean McCoy against the Patriots. Cadet has seen an expanded role than Mike Tolbert was used prior to his injury. He was used in both the running and the passing game in substitution for McCoy. Cadet dropped a pass on a check down and could have scored a touchdown on a gadget play, but he was overthrown down the seam by wildcat QB Joe Webb. Cadet is a pedestrian physical talent who cuts into McCoy's role more than he operates as a stand alone back in the Buffalo offense.

WR Deonte Thompson, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (8 targets)
Despite leading the team in targets, Deonte Thompson did little against the New England Patriots. He was targeted along the deep perimeter but overthrown by Tyrod Taylor and later overthrown in the end zone by Nathan Peterman. Thompson's two catches short receptions of 12 and 9 yards.

WR Zay Jones, 65 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 22 - 0 (7 targets)
Zay Jones struggled to separate, despite high level usage. Jones was targeted unsuccessfully three times in the end zone by Nathan Peterman on a late drive. Two of the targets were fade routes that were broken up by CB Stephon Gilmore, and the other was a dig along the back of the end zone that was overthrown by Peterman. Jones also had a ball broken up on a crossing route. Jones continued a recent trend of being treated like a number one receiver in the Buffalo offense, but is unable to fill the role. When Jones was covered by Gillmore he was thoroughly overmatched.

WR Jordan Matthews, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 14 - 0 (3 targets)
Jordan Matthews continued what has been a frustrating season, finishing the day with only one catch on a dig route for 14 yards. Matthews has struggled to get open consistently and is a poor fit for Tyrod Taylor who struggles throwing the ball in tight windows.

TE Charles Clay, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 20 - 0 (3 targets)
Charles Clay had three catches on the day, but offered little in terms of explosiveness. One of the catches was on a shovel pass, and the other two were routes on the perimeter. His lone big play was a deep corner route that was called back by penalty. Clay looks back to health after missing games earlier in the season.