New England’s 37-16 Week 16 victory over the Buffalo Bills was just about the most Patriots win you could possibly see.
It had everything:
— It wound up in a blowout that negative fans and media types can say was “closer than the final score appears.”
— A slow start by the defense that had those same people FREAKING OUT midway through the second quarter.
— Calls that went by the NFL rules benefitted the Patriots and will have the national media telling you the league favors New England for the next week.
— The Patriots allowing first down after first down then locking down the Bills once Buffalo got inside the red zone.
The Patriots rank fifth in the NFL in points allowed after the win. They just need to beat the New York Jets at home in Week 17 to lock up the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
Here are this week’s takeaways.
— Tom Brady went 21 of 28 for 224 yards with two touchdowns and an interception and all of his incompletions were inaccurate, meaning he had no dropped passes, no throwaways, no passes batted at the line, no spikes and no incompletions while he was hit while throwing, according to Pro Football Focus.
— Brady was 0-for-3 on passes that traveled 20 yards or more.
— Brady threw an interception for the fifth straight week, which is something he hasn’t done since 2002. This one was his first pick-six since Super Bowl LI. The pick put a damper on what otherwise was a solid Brady performance. He was 9-of-9 in the second half.
— Brady picked up an additional 73 yards on defensive pass interference penalties.
— Dion Lewis forced one missed tackle on 29 touches, while Mike Gillislee forced one missed tackle on seven touches.
— Lewis had the most productive game of his career, picking up 153 yards on 29 offensive touches with two touchdowns.
LT Nate Solder: one sack, one hurry
C David Andrews: one hurry
— Right tackle Cameron Fleming and guards Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason didn’t allow any pressures. Neither did running backs Lewis and Gillislee, fullback James Develin and tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen.
LB Marquis Flowers: 2.5 sacks, two hurries
DE Deatrich Wise Jr.: 1.5 sacks, two hurries
DT Lawrence Guy: one QB hit, three hurries
DE Trey Flowers: QB hit, two hurries
DT Malcom Brown: sack, hurry
DE Eric Lee: two hurries
DT Adam Butler: two hurries
CB Malcolm Butler: sack
SS Patrick Chung: QB hit
FS Devin McCourty: hurry
— Even the most prescient Patriots fans couldn’t have predicted Marquis Flowers, not Trey, leading the team with five pressures in a meaningful Week 16 game. He only was supposed to contribute on special teams. He’s become the Patriots’ best healthy linebacker in pass defense.
— Wise had three sacks in the Patriots’ first five games and two in their last two. He had none from Week 6 to Week 14.
— No one is going to confuse Guy or Brown with an interior pass rusher like J.J. Watt or Aaron Donald, but the Patriots have received valuable pass-rush production out of those 300-pounders.
CB Malcolm Butler: 3-4, 83 yards, PBU
CB Stephon Gilmore: 5-7, 70 yards
LB Elandon Roberts: 3-3, 30 yards
SS Patrick Chung: 3-9, 27 yards, two PBUs
CB Eric Rowe: 2-3, 25 yards
DE Eric Lee: 1-1, 17 yards
SS Jordan Richards: 2-2, 16 yards
LB Marquis Flowers: 1-3, 11 yards
FS Devin McCourty: 1-4, 2 yards
— In a game in which Butler and Gilmore struggled, Chung and McCourty were a steady presence. Safety has been a strength and consistent position for the Patriots all season. Duron Harmon, who was not targeted, should be included in that sentiment. It’s amazing to think how long McCourty and Chung have been getting it done in the Patriots’ defense at this point.
— Butler struggled more than Gilmore, though neither player was great. Gilmore had a tough matchup against Bills massive wideout Kelvin Benjamin. Butler had an easier one against Deonte Thompson.
Trey Flowers: four stops
Malcom Brown: three stops
Marquis Flowers: three stops
Ricky Jean Francois: one stop
Lawrence Guy: one stop
Elandon Roberts: one stop
Patrick Chung: one stop
— Marquis Flowers had his best game as a run defender in a Patriots uniform. The Patriots are at the point where he should probably receive No. 2 linebacker snaps when Kyle Van Noy returns from a calf injury.
— Brown deserves mention when talking about the Patriots’ most consistent defenders.
Stats via Pro Football Focus Elite
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images