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Week 4 Game Recap: New England Patriots 16, Buffalo Bills 10


What you need to know

New England Patriots

This is likely a blip on the offensive radar; the next few weeks present get-right spots.

Rex Burkhead only played 12 snaps and touched the ball once. Maybe this was because of his foot injury, but speaks to the unpredictability of touches for New England RBs.

The Patriots would be smart to utilize NíKeal Harry as soon as he is off IR. They could use the help.

Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills offense struggled against a strong New England Patriots defense on Sunday. Josh Allen was inaccurate and struggled with three interceptions, before exiting the game in the concussion protocol on a scary hit while scrambling. Frank Gore was the lead running back against the Patriots with Devin Singletary inactive with a hamstring injury and had consistent success on the interior of the offense. Cole Beasley and John Brown were targeted on 23 of Buffaloís 40 passing attempts but each were held without a touchdown.

New England Patriots

QB Tom Brady, 65 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 39 - 150 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - -3 - 0
Brate made a tough contested catch up the seam on the first drive of the game. He caught an out route for a solid gain late in the 3rd quarter. Brate found the end zone at the end of the same drive, running one of his signature seam routes and making a tough contested catch. Brate hasn't generated much in the way of stats, but he's found the end zone three times this season, which is three more than OJ Howard has accounted for.

RB Sony Michel, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 63 - 0
The Patriots made a concerted effort to try to get Sony Michel going, but funny enough, the bad passing game actually affected him negatively at times. While he looked better than in prior weeks, offensive line blocking was better in the run game, and he had his ups and downs, particularly in the vision area. With all that said, he didnít play himself out of a job like some suspected he would, especially against a defense of the Bills caliber. Michel will continue to be involved going forward, but will be game script and pace dependent.

RB James White, 34 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 1 - 0, Rec: 8 - 57 - 0 (10 targets)
James White was, for all intents and purposes, the Patriots offense when things needed to get done. There wasnít a huge play beyond his nice deep catch early in the game, but he made small plays here and there on his way to a very unsexy line. It also helped his cause that Rex Burkhead was likely injured in this game as he only played one snap. Still, games like this one are where he can do work, as Tom Brady was most effective when targeting White, even on dumpoffs and screens. Ugly game, but a win.

WR Julian Edelman, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 30 - 0 (7 targets)
Edelman didnít do much of anything against the Bills, but the same could be said for the entire offense. It wasnít clear if he was less effective because of his injury, but he wasnít the same Julian Edelman, especially since this was the type of slugfest that Edelman thrives in at times (i.e. the Rams Super Bowl). Tom Brady had to get the ball out quick often, but didnít look Edelmanís way as much as expected. Heíll be fine.

WR Phillip Dorsett, 40 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0, Rec: 2 - 10 - 0 (9 targets)
Tom Brady looked and threw Dorsettís way plenty, but Dorsett was unable to get separation on most of his targets, and many were questionable throws and decisions from his quarterback. This is one case where the stat sheet did the performance justice: 2 catches for 10 yards on 9 targets is wholly awful. Dorsettís depth of target was also in chunk areas, which meant Brady forced or was inaccurate on a lot of those throws thanks to pressure and generally great defense. Any game where Dorsett is the most targeted Patriot either means something went very wrong or there was nonexistent coverage. On the plus side, maybe this means more trust is being developed between QB and WR.

WR Josh Gordon, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 46 - 0 (7 targets)
Beyond a 31 yard catch and go on a pick play, Gordon didnít do much of anything, as the Bills smothered him in coverage and bothered Tom Brady all game. He did have a drop on a slant route, and some of his routes were odd considering the Pats didnít have a ton of time to throw. Julian Edelman was also playing injured, which meant more coverage could head Gordonís way. Either way, he was expected to be volatile in the stat column on a weekly basis, and it showed here.


Buffalo Bills

QB Josh Allen, 59 offensive snaps, Pass: 13 - 28 - 153 - 0 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 5 - 26 - 1
Josh Allen left the game against the New England Patriots after a hit to his head on a scramble. Before the injury, Allen struggled mightily with his accuracy, consistently missing open targets. Allen threw three bad interceptions. His first was a post to John Brown in double coverage. He then threw two targeting Zay Jones, the first off his back foot and the second on a scramble where he threw the ball across his body into traffic on a scramble. Allen performed better in the second half helping the Bills move the ball including finishing off a drive with a quarterback plunge over the line of scrimmage at the goal line. The Patriots deployed a defensive scheme intending to keep gap integrity in their pass rush which kept Allen in the pocket and did not allow him to create plays with his legs. Allen will look to return from the concussion protocol in a tough matchup at Tennessee. If he is held out of the game, he will have a bye week before facing Miami in week seven.

QB Matt Barkley, 24 offensive snaps, Pass: 9 - 16 - 127 - 0 TD / 1 INT
Matt Barkley replaced an injured Josh Allen in the second half against the Patriots. Barkley entered while trailing in a tough spot, but threw a strike to John Brown down the field for a big third down conversion on his first throw. Barkley had an opportunity to lead a comeback attempt but attempted a throw to Zay Jones in the end zone that bounced off his hands. Barkley later had a ball deflected for an easy interception that ended the game. Barkley is a competent backup but will face a tough test at Tennessee next week if Josh Allen is unable to return.

RB Frank Gore, 38 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 109 - 0 (1 targets)
Frank Gore was the starting running back for the Buffalo Bills against the New England Patriots. Gore was the lone running back to carry the ball with Devin Singletary missing his second consecutive game and T.J. Yeldonís work coming exclusively in the passing game. Gore had good success on the ground and he repeatedly got interior running lanes including big gains of 28 and 41 yards. Gore was less active in the second half, with T.J. Yeldon getting extensive work in the passing game. Gore got multiple cracks at a short touchdown but was stopped at the goal line by the New England defense. He will face a tough test against the Titans next week and Singletaryís status is important to monitor as a gauge of Goreís volume.

RB T.J. Yeldon, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 68 - 0 (4 targets)
T.J. Yeldon was limited in the first half against the New England Patriots but got good passing game work in the second half. Yeldon had four receptions including a catch in the intermediate middle of the field. He was targeted on a trick play at the goal line but was unable to secure a catch in tight coverage. Yeldonís role has been nearly exclusively in the passing game with Devin Singletary missing his second consecutive week with a hamstring injury. Yeldon will face the Titans in week five.

WR Cole Beasley, 71 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 75 - 0 (12 targets)
Cole Beasley was the leading target in the Buffalo offense in a loss to the Patriots. He was the target of multiple errant throws from Josh Allen early in the game, including a deep corner route and a deep route where a low pass went off his fingers. Beasley had some success when Allen settled down, including catches on RPOs and two catches on the final drive of the game with Matt Barkley at quarterback. Beasley will face a good Titans defense in week five.

WR John Brown, 77 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 69 - 0 (11 targets)
John Brown had a solid game against the New England Patriots on Sunday. Brown saw a lot of coverage from Stephon Gilmore and managed to beat him down the perimeter on a third and long reception. Brown had more success in the middle of the field, including a slant and an intermediate crossing route. He had two deeper targets, one an interception in double coverage that should not have been thrown, and a second a deep pass that was overthrown in good coverage. He also had the opportunity to throw a touchdown pass on a trick play, but T.J. Yeldon was unable to make a contested catch on the play. Brown will face the Titans in week five with questions about the health of Josh Allen.

TE Dawson Knox, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 58 - 0 (3 targets)
Dawson Knox continued his strong play against the New England Patriots in week four. Knox made a strong catch along the sideline and added two other catches that had strong run after the catch efforts. Knox will face a tough Tennessee defense next week.