ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It’s safe to say the New England Patriots reinforced their status as the class of the AFC East on Sunday.
The Patriots beat the Buffalo Bills 41-25 in the Week 8 divisional matchup at New Era Field. In what should be frightening news for the rest of the AFC, New England can be even better. It didn’t force any turnovers, and the team actually was penalized for more yards than the heavily flagged Bills.
The Patriots’ defense once again didn’t pass the eye test, but they allowed just 17 points until a garbage time touchdown and two-point conversion by the Bills. They’ve allowed 16.5 points per game this season and let up 20 points or more for the first time since Week 2. It isn’t always pretty, but the Pats are getting the job done on the way to a 7-1 record.
Here are New England’s stars of the game.
QB TOM BRADY
Brady has been laughably good this season. He completed 22 of 33 passes for 315 yards with four touchdowns. He has yet to throw an interception this season and has managed to improve his deep ball and mobility. Brady had a 15-yard run and threw deep touchdowns to Chris Hogan and Rob Gronkowski.
WR CHRIS HOGAN
Hogan had a big day in his return to Buffalo, making the Bills look dumb for letting him walk as a restricted free agent this offseason. Hogan caught four passes on four targets for 91 yards and a touchdown and drew a holding penalty.
TE ROB GRONKOWSKI
Gronkowski broke the franchise record for touchdowns with the 69th of his career. He caught five passes on seven targets for 109 yards and a score in front of his hometown crowd.
CB MALCOLM BUTLER
Butler continues to solidify himself as one of the NFL’s elite cornerbacks. He allowed two catches on six targets for just 15 yards against the Bills. He also was flagged for illegal hands to the face.
Butler and Logan Ryan were solid in coverage, while Eric Rowe and Justin Coleman each drew costly penalties. Ryan replaced Rowe as the Patriots’ No. 2 cornerback at the end of the first half.
FS DEVIN MCCOURTY
McCourty blanked the Bills in coverage, allowing zero catches on three targets. McCourty had two pass breakups and had an interception called back because of a penalty. He was dominant in man coverage and at free safety, protecting the deep half of the field.
K STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI
Gostkowski was perfect on the day, hitting 51- and 32-yard field goals and going 5-of-5 on extra points.
He was 9 of 12 on field goals and 19 of 21 on extra points heading into Week 8, so it’s worth mentioning when he’s had a solid day at the office.
It’s also worth noting he grazed the upright on his 51-yard field goal. But that can be excused as long as he’s making them.
Thumbnail photo via Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY Sports Images