By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Patriots hit the halfway mark of the 2018 season at 6-2. You know, the usual. It hasn’t been perfect and it certainly wasn’t perfect on Monday night in Buffalo, but it was still a hard-earned win that should help the Patriots be more battle-tested moving forward.
Here are some quick-hit thoughts on a bit of a strange night at New Era Field, but not with a strange result.
— Patriots offense does just enough. It felt like a terrible night for the Patriots offense for most of the game. It certainly was in the red zone, where the Pats stalled out on multiple occasions in the first three quarters. But Tom Brady still moved the ball well between the 20s, connecting especially well with Julian Edelman (nine catches for 104 yards) and James White (10 catches for 79 yards). It was a matter of time before the Patriots pulled away, which they did with White’s rushing TD in the fourth.
— Defense does what it was supposed to do. The Bills made some plays on offense, despite employing Derek Anderson at quarterback. They came within an end zone drop of scoring a touchdown. But in the end, Anderson wasn’t going to have enough to keep up with Brady. The Patriots defense swarmed up front for much of the night, including a very disruptive night for Trey Flowers (six tackles, two tackles for loss, two QB hits, one pass breakup). Kyle Van Noy made one of the big plays of the night with a strip-sack that Patrick Chung recovered. And Devin McCourty delivered the final dagger with his 85-yard pick-six in the fourth quarter.
— Bills defense gives a superb overall effort. Only 18 points allowed for this impressive group, which finally broke to allow a touchdown after losing promising rookie linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. But for about three and a half quarters, this game was competitive thanks to the Bills D, specifically the pressure they often brought up front. Edmunds played well patrolling the middle of the field while he was out there. They were most impressive in the red zone, where they clamped down for much of the game after Brady and the Patriots moved the ball well early in drives. If the Bills had a better quarterback/offense, the Pats could’ve been in serious trouble in this game.
— Patriots need Sony Michel back. Or just a real running back. There’s no way they can play the next two games handing the ball off to Cordarrelle Patterson. It’s a plan that’s bound to backfire, using a gadget wide receiver as a running back. But against the Bills, they can get away with something like that. The Patriots insisted on running the ball, though, and it was mostly quiet with 76 yards on 25 carries, albeit including White’s touchdown at the goal line. The Patriots’ ground game on Monday night showed A) how little they want to run it with White or Kenjon Barner, and B) how valuable Michel really is to this team right now.
Next quick-hit thoughts come next Sunday night, after the Patriots take on the Green Bay Packers in a potentially exciting Sunday Night Football matchup.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.