ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Some notes and nuggets from the New England Patriots’ 23-3 beatdown of the Buffalo Bills on Sunday at New Era Field:
— Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead shredded the Bills’ defense, teaming up for 170 yards on 17 carries on another highly productive day for the Patriots’ running game.
Lewis fell just shy of notching his second consecutive 100-yard game, finishing with 92 yards on 15 carries, while Burkhead rushed 12 times for 78 yards and scored the Patriots’ only two touchdowns on the day.
Burkhead’s scores gave New England some much-needed insurance after it managed just three field goals in the first half and took a 9-3 lead into the break. He now has five touchdowns in the Patriots’ last four games (three rushing, two receiving).
“We didn’t start off fast, and we made plays that kind of ended our drives early,” Burkhead said after the game. “The second half, we got it going, and the offensive line did its job up front all day. They opened up some holes and just gave us some opportunities.”
Though the Patriots’ O-line struggled at times in pass protection — left guard Joe Thuney allowed two red-zone sacks — it was able to clear several massive holes for Lewis and Burkhead. That blocking allowed Lewis to rip off a 44-yard run and Burkhead to record a 31-yarder — the two longest rushing plays by the Patriots this season.
“It all starts with them,” Burkhead said.
New England finished with 191 rushing yards as a team after torching the Miami Dolphins for a season-high 196 last week.
— That work on the ground allowed the Patriots to coast to an easy win despite a relatively quiet performance from quarterback Tom Brady, who did not throw a touchdown pass for just the second time this season.
Brady did have great success when targeting Rob Gronkowski, however, connecting with the big tight end nine times on 11 targets for 147 yards. Gronkowski’s grab over Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White was one of the best catches by any Patriots player this season, though it was overshadowed by his cheap shot on White later in the game.
— The Patriots’ defense seems to get better every week.
Even with injured defensive end Trey Flowers sitting out and linebacker Kyle Van Noy playing limited snaps, New England still managed to keep the Bills out of the end zone. The Patriots have not allowed an opponent to score more than 17 points during their current eight-game win streak.
— Safety Patrick Chung injured his hand during the game. He plans to treat it with a few cold ones.
— Even before Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor left the game with a knee injury, Buffalo called an unusually high number of plays for third-string QB Joe Webb.
Webb, who had played just three snaps all season, ran the ball three times for 27 yards in the first half and also threw it once, missing former Patriots running back Travaris Cadet on what would have been an easy touchdown. He also played on the Bills’ kick coverage team.