Pats Turn it On Late, Spoil Buffalo’s Christmas
It was close until the fourth quarter, but just as many had expected the Patriots played Santa Claus for all of New England, Sunday, delivering a dominating, 37-16, Christmas Eve win over the Buffalo Bills.
D-Lew Dominates- With his top two backfield mates, Rex Burkhead and James White, inactive due to injuries, Patriots running back Dion Lewis was expected to carry even more of the load than usual on Sunday. The diminutive back did just that, playing a season-high in offensive snaps and carrying the ball a season-high 24 times as well. Not only did Lewis see more action, but he delivered dominant performance. Lewis rushed for a career-high 129 yards and a score, as he averaged 5.4 yards per carry and paced the offense all day long. His quick burst speed, strength and toughness has made him a difference maker all season long for the New England offense.
Stepping Up In The Second Half- After a somewhat tough-to-watch first half of play for Tom Brady, who struggled to find a rhythm early on, the 40-year-old turned it on in the second half. A 12-19 start, which included a pick-6, gave way to a strong second half of play in which the future Hall-of-Famer went a perfect 9-9 for 105 yards. Overall, Brady completed 21 of 28 pass attempts for 224 yards and two scores. His second half play helped spur the 24-point output by the Patriot offense.
24-3- At the half, the game was knotted at a 13-13 tie, but, over the last two quarters, the Pats separated thing, by a lot. In the second half, New England outscored the Bills 24-3. Buffalo scored on their first drive of the second half, kicking a field goal, so in actuality the Pats outscored the Bills 24-0 from the 10:21 mark of the third quarter through the final whistle.
Gronk Stays Safe, Plays Big- The best news coming out of this game, aside from the fact that the Pats won, is that tight end Rob Gronkowski made it unscathed throughout the game. There was concern, going in, that the Bills might try to retaliate for Gronk's cheap shot on cornerback Tre'Davious White at the end of the first meeting between the two teams. Instead of taking a dirty hit, Gronkowski made big plays for the Patriot offense, catching five of the seven balls thrown his way for 67 yards. He also scored a touchdown on a tremendous, one-handed catch that took a lot more skill than most tight ends possess to complete.
So, the Pats are in the driver's seat of the AFC, now sitting at 12-3 overall. With a win next Sunday they will officially finish with the top spot in the AFC. The team's final two quarters of play were strong and the win was dominant.