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New England Patriots pull out on top in a defensive battle in Buffalo

On Sunday, Sept. 29, quarterback Tom Brady and the limping Patriots offense walked into Buffalo for a day-long struggle they almost weren’t prepared for. It was a day that Brady turned in his worst passer rating since 2006. That being said, the defense completely suffocated their opponents. The defensive crew put together another four-interception performance, including one from safety Devin McCourty, who is pacing the squad with an interception in every game to start the season, which also happens to lead the league. 

Who is directly behind McCourty? Fellow teammate and linebacker Jamie Collins, who hauled in the game-winning interception on a tipped ball late in the fourth quarter. Collins’ third pick of the season happened to be his second game sealer in this new season. It looks like Collins is looking to steal the “Closer” title away from safety Duron Harmon. In addition to the pick, Collins also got to the quarterback for a sack, as part of a five-sack performance from the Patriots defense. As incredible of a game as Collins put together yet again, it is still overshadowed by the performance of cornerback J.C. Jackson who had two interceptions and a blocked punt. The blocked punt was picked up and returned for a touchdown by special team’s expert Matthew Slater for his well deserved first career touchdown. 

The touchdown was one of two times the Patriots found the end zone in the first quarter. They were pretty much shut down afterward. One of the glaring ailments for the Patriots scoring ability has been kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who missed yet another point after attempt for the fourth time in as many games. His day was ended early against Buffalo, as he was limping on the sideline in the second half. Now that the news has come out that Gostkowski is done for the season, Belichick has signed kicker Mike Nugent to take over the kicking duties. Gostkowski goes onto the injured reserve, but if Nugent does well, will Gostkowski even be on the roster when February comes? It should be noted that Nugent has hit 100% of his field goals in the past two seasons, but added that he only had 10 attempts over that period.

Running back Sony Michel continues to struggle, but without multiple offensive line starters and stud fullback James Develin, Michel’s 2.8 yards-per-carry is almost impressive. 

Going into the season, it seemed as though for the first time in a long time the Patriots’ primary offensive identity was going to be their ability to run the ball. Since then, the Patriots have lost starting center David Andrews for the season, left tackle Isaiah Wynn and Develin have both been placed on the injured reserved list and have question marks on whether or not they will return and right tackle Marcus Cannon’s health remains questionable at times. The inability to consistently run the ball has not been much of an issue as Brady and the passing game have been fantastic, but Sunday’s game was far from perfect in terms of passing. 

Brady completed only 18/39 passes for 150 yards, with a brutal end zone pick and zero touchdowns. The Bills have an outstanding secondary and defense as a whole, and they were playing at home. It seems like the Bills just simply got the best of the Patriots on Sunday. If you are an optimistic person, you can say the Bills’ defense completely outplayed the Patriots offense and the Patriots still came away with the win. New England will be able to exhale in their week five contest against the Washington Redskins, with Colt McCoy being named the starter over their first-round pick, quarterback Dwayne Haskins out of Ohio State. 

In a highly questionable move for Redskins management, they allowed head coach Jay Gruden to throw Haskins into the fire, as he appeared completely overwhelmed against a weak New York Giants defense. New England’s opponents have passed for 181.8 yards per game while the Patriots have sacked the quarterback for an NFL leading 18 times, while also leading the league in interceptions with 10. As long as wide receivers Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and Philip Dorsett all stay healthy, the future looks bright for old man Brady.

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