The Patriots escaped with a hard-fought 23-21 win over the Bills Sunday despite a less-than-stellar performance from the offense and a few miscommunications on defense. But they also had a surprising number of solid performances on both sides of the football that should make Patriots fans a bit more optimistic for the rest of the season.
A breakdown of all three phases of the game after reviewing the TV tape and the coaches’ film:
When the Patriots had the ball . . .
■ Tom Brady needed 52 passes to get his 288 passing yards, but he was masterful when he had to be, particularly in the fourth quarter when he connected with Danny Amendola five times for 49 yards. His 9-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman in the first quarter had eyes, somehow squeezing right past Jim Leonhard and Kiko Alonso into the tightest of windows.
And the play of the game was Brady’s 10-yard pass to Amendola in blanket-tight coverage on third and 8 with 1:20 left in the fourth quarter. If Brady doesn’t thread that pass, and Amendola doesn’t make an incredibly tough catch in traffic, the comeback might not happen.
■ The Bills disguised their pressure really well with their zone blitzes, often showing big blitz but then rushing only four or five defenders. Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, listed at 331 pounds, was surprisingly nimble when dropping into coverage, and played the role of QB spy on a half-dozen snaps. They also showed a “sugar” rush on a handful of snaps, in which each player in the front seven began the play in a two-point stance, making it tough to determine who was rushing the quarterback.
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