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Bills Suffer Predictable 37-16 Loss In New England
Valant effort deflated by controversial calls.
by Steve Saslow
Week 16
Bills  16
Patriots  37
Gameday Grades
The Skinny:
In a game of controversial calls the Patriots waited the Bills out and took control of the game in the 2nd half enroute to a 37-16 win in a game that was much closer than the final score indicates. The loss means the Bills need to beat the Dolphins next week and have Tennesee and the Chargers lose or a Baltimore loss to end the playoff drought. The Bills started strong and took a 10-3 lead when Jordan Poyer picked off Tom Brady and returned it for a touchdown. The Bills thought they recaptured the lead just before halftime when Kelvin Benjamin made a nice catch in the corner of the end zone but after a very lengthy review, the league office called it incomplete while everyone else thought it was a good catch. The Bills took a 16-13 lead early in the fourth quarter as the offense couldn't turn field goals into touchdowns. The Patriots took over from there scoring 24 unanswered points getting touchdowns from Rob Gronkowski, Mike Gillislee, and two late scores from Dion Lewis They were helped along the way with a couple of pass interference penalties to take control of the game.

The Turning Point:
Pass Interference In End Zone: Micah Hyde left the game when he was shaken up and Trae Elston replaced him. Brady went after him and threw deep to Gronkowski in the end zone and Elston was called for the penalty setting up New England's go ahead touchdown.

The Big Drive:
Third Quarter TD: The Patriots went 65 yards in just four plays to Gillislee's one yard scoring jaunt. It was setup by the pass interference against Elston.

Stat I Did Like:
Third Down Defense:

Stat I Didn't Like:
Red Zone Offense: The Bills were 0 for 4 in the red zone as they got stopped on downs once and kicked three field goals.

Scene Setters:
- The Bills wore their white jerseys with blue pants for this game.
- Tre'Davious White got into it with some fans before the game who were calling him a baby for wanting a flag on the Gronk hit.
- The Bills won the toss and gambled by deferring which put Brady on the field first but the Pats went three and out.
- Rick Dennison mixed things up by being on the sidelines this week instead of the coaches booth.
- Inactive for the Bills were John Miller, E.J. Gaines, Andre Holmes, Conor McDermott, Logan Thomas, Breon Border, and Brandon Reilly.

Key Matchup Results:
The winners of the battles highlighted in our preview article:
LB Preston Brown vs. RB Dion Lewis: Winner: Lewis. He had some big runs to put the game away.
DB Tre'Davious White vs. TE Rob Gronkowski: Winner: Gronkowski. He had a touchdown and drew a penalty to setup another.
RG Vlad Ducasse vs. LB Kyle Van Noy: Winner: Ducasse. He has played well lately.
LT Dion Dawkins vs. DE Trey Flowers: Winner: Flowers. Flowers had 2½ sacks.

Keys To The Game Results:
How the keys highlighted in our preview article turned out:
1. Get Offense Moving: Failure! They moved the ball at times but couldn't put it in the end zone.
2. Pressure Brady: Failure! Besides the Kyle Williams sack he had all day to throw.
3. Force Turnovers: Success! Their only touchdown came on a pick six.

My Take:
The Bills came to play and fought the Patriots hard but you can't win against the mighty Patriots when the have the league office in their pockets. They have now had very controversial touchdowns called back against the Bills, Steelers, Texans, and Jets this year. Would they have won if the Benjamin touchdown counted? Maybe not but it would have been nice to see how it turned out. Nothing has come easy in this playoff drought so getting there won't be either. They need to win next week and get some help. Can they do it? History tells me it won't happen even if they take care of their own business next week.

What's Ahead:
The Bills close out the regular season against the Dolphins next week. They are alive for a playoff spot in the final week of the season for only the second time since the drought continued.

  • LeSean McCoy - He had 147 total yards rushing and receiving.
  • Kelvin Benjamin - He had five catches for 70 yards but had a touchdown stolen from him by the replay officials.
  • Jordan Poyer - He scored the only touchdown for the Bills.
  • Deonte Thompson - He had four catches for 91 yards.

  • Goats
  • Mike Tolbert - He is just awful, he had two carries for losses and dropped a pass.
  • Charles Clay - If he finishes the process on the catch in the end zone then the Benjamin controversial play doesn't happen.

  • Player Of The Week
  • LeSean McCoy - He is their only real star on offense.

  • Positional Breakdown and Grades Gamebook
    Patriots Game Preview
    Gameday Homepage

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