Not to resort to Bill Belichick cliches, but the New England Patriots’ defense did its job against the Buffalo Bills on Monday night.
The Bills’ offense stinks, and the Patriots’ defense made it look appropriately bad. Buffalo managed just two field goals in its 25-6 loss to the Patriots. The Bills averaged just 2.4 yards per carry, and while Derek Anderson threw for 290 yards, he managed just a 56.4 completion percentage with a 69.4 passer rating.
New England’s defense played well. But it should have played well. So, we’ll make no sweeping judgments based on Monday night’s performance.
Some players played exceptionally well, however. Let’s highlight those performances in this week’s takeaways and metrics. (All stats via Pro Football Focus.)
LB Kyle Van Noy: two sacks, QB hit, hurry
DE Trey Flowers: QB hit, two hurries
DE Adrian Clayborn: sack, hurry
LB Nicholas Grigsby: QB hit
LB Elandon Roberts: hurry
DT Lawrence Guy: hurry
FS Duron Harmon: hurry
— Van Noy had been held sackless through seven weeks but broke out in a big way despite receiving fewer pass-rush opportunities. In moving back from the edge to inside linebacker, Van Noy only rushed 13 times. That he brought pressure on 30.8 percent of those rushes is mighty impressive.
— Flowers also batted a pass while pressuring Anderson. PFF graded him extremely well in the pass rush.
— Among players with double-digit pass-rush opportunities, Deatrich Wise Jr., Adam Butler, Derek Rivers, Malcom Brown, Keionta Davis and Danny Shelton all didn’t record a single pressure.
LB Kyle Van Noy: four catches on four targets for 70 yards
CB Jason McCourty: 5-6, 57 yards, PBU
CB Stephon Gilmore: 2-7, 45 yards, two PBUs
CB JC Jackson: 2-4, 35 yards
CB Jonathan Jones: 2-2, 32 yards
SS Patrick Chung: 4-9, 28 yards, PBU
LB Elandon Roberts: 3-4, 28 yards, PBU
FS Devin McCourty: 2-2, 18 yards, INT
LB Nicholas Grigsby: 0-1
DE Trey Flowers: PBU
— Gilmore continued his impressive streak of performances Monday. Over the last five weeks, he’s allowed just eight catches on 25 targets for 96 yards with seven pass breakups during that stretch. He ranks first in the NFL in cover snaps per reception, second in fewest yards per cover snap, 14th in cover snaps per target and first in pass rating allowed since Week 3.
— Gilmore also is second in the NFL with 11 pass breakups on the season.
— Roberts’ pass breakup led to a punt. It was his second dropped interception in as many weeks, but it was a good play to get his hands on the ball.
— McCourty intercepted Anderson and returned the pick 84 yards for a touchdown. McCourty reached speeds of 22.05 mph, making him fastest clocked ball-carrier in the NFL this season.
— Chung had one of his better games in coverage this season.
DE Trey Flowers: five stops
DE Keionta Davis: two stops
LB Kyle Van Noy: two stops
DE John Simon: one stop
DT Malcom Brown: one stop
LB Nicholas Grigsby: one stop
LB Elandon Roberts: one stop
S Patrick Chung: one stop
— Flowers was all over the place on run defense. He had two tackles for loss as part of his five stops.
— Davis and Grigsby also had tackles for loss.
— Chung had an impressive three-plays stretch where he allowed catches of 2 yards no gain then stopped running back LeSean McCoy for a 2-yard rush on third-and-8.
— McCoy rushed for 12 yards on his first carry, a wildcat play. He then 1 yard on his next 11 carries.
— Of Tom Brady’s 16 incompletions, three were thrown away, one was dropped and one was spiked.
— Brady was 2-of-5 for 48 yards on deep passes.
— Wide receiver Josh Gordon had the lone drop on the night.
RG Shaq Mason: five hurries
RT LaAdrian Waddle: sack, QB hit, two hurries
LT Trent Brown: sack, QB hit, two hurries
FB James Develin: hurry
LB Joe Thuney: hurry
TE Rob Gronkowski: hurry
— Center David Andrews, right guard Ted Karras and running back James White were spotless in pass protection.
— Mason hurt his calf to put Karras into the game. He didn’t return.
— The Patriots should be getting starting right tackle Marcus Cannon back next week from a concussion, which would push Waddle back into a backup role.
— Kenjon Barner and James White each averaged 1 yard after contact.
— Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson forced one missed tackle.
— The Patriots’ offensive issues — just one touchdown all game — were caused by their anemic rushing attack. New England clearly missed rookie running back Sony Michel, who was out with a knee injury. He returned to practice Friday. so there’s hope he could play Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers.
For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, go to ProFootballFocus.com.