Ugly wins nevertheless show up in the win column all the same.
Which is fortunate for the New England Patriots after an 25-6 road victory over the Buffalo Bills on Monday night, because Bill Belichick is going to want to burn the game tape from this one.
The Patriots didn’t score a touchdown until the 9:58 to go mark of the fourth quarter, when James White ran in behind a James Develin block to end what had been a kicking duel between Stephen Gostkowski and Bills’ kicker Steven Hauschka. It was the first time New England didn’t score a touchdown until the fourth quarter of a game since Sept. 16, 2012, when the Patriots lost to the Arizona Cardinals.
New England's offense, which was averaging over 39 points per game over the last four weeks, never fully hit its stride with Sony Michel out of the lineup. Marcus Cannon was inactive at right tackle and Shaq Mason missed snaps for the first time all season, leaving Tom Brady behind a makeshift offensive line. Buffalo's sneaky-not-terrible defense sacked Brady twice, but he was still able to throw for 324 yards through the air while completing 29 of his 45 passes.
Devin McCourty put the game on ice with an 84-yard interception return for a touchdown off Derek Anderson with 5:54 left. It was the first defensive touchdown for McCourty in the NFL, now in his ninth season. He had a kick return for a score in 2012.
Anderson, somehow the best option available for the Bills with rookie Josh Allen out with an elbow injury, completed 22 of 39 passes for 290 yards -- many of his numbers coming in garbage time. He turned the ball over twice, losing a fumble after Kyle Van Noy knocked the ball out of Anderson’s grasp and Patrick Chung swooped in to fall on it. Anderson was knocked out of the game on the final drive after Van Noy got to him for a sack.
At the end of the night, it’s the fifth win in a row for New England, now 6-2 at the halfway mark of the season for the second year in a row. As expected, the rest of the AFC East is fading fast into the rearview mirror, with only the 4-4 Dolphins even at .500.
Reports surfaced late this afternoon that Josh Gordon would be disciplined by New England for tardiness, perhaps in the form of a benching to begin the game. He was on the field for the first play and remained in action throughout the contest, however, hauling in four catches for 42 yards.
Julian Edelman had nine catches for 104 yards while James White finished with 10 catches for 79 yards. White is now on pace to finish the season with 110 catches; the NFL record for most receptions in a season by a running back is 102.
Cordarrelle Patterson was unleashed as a threat in the running game for the Patriots, carrying the ball 10 times for 38 yards with a long run of 22 yards.
The Patriots welcome in Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers to Gillette Stadium this week for Sunday Night Football at 8:20 p.m. on NBC10 Boston. It will be the first career start for Rodgers in Foxboro.