Tom Brady and the New England Patriots continued their dominance over the Buffalo Bills.
Rex Burkhead ran for two touchdowns and former Bills defensive end Eric Lee had 1.5 sacks and an interception in the Patriots' 23-3 win Sunday against the Bills.
The Bills' day could be summed up by the opening drive. The offense had its longest drive of the season and were in position to get at least a field goal when quarterback Tyrod Taylor faced pressure and threw a terrible pass right to Lee.
Brady didn't throw for a touchdown, but his rushing attack picked up the slack. The Patriots had 191 rushing yards against the Bills. Dion Lewis led the team with 92 yards on the ground. Burkhead, who had the two scores, added 78 yards.
The Bills spoiled a good defensive performance against the Patriots. Brady was sacked three times and Tre'Davious White had an interception in the fourth quarter. But it wasn't enough to overcome the offensive woes.
Taylor was injured in the fourth quarter and could miss time, which means Nathan Peterman may become the team's starting quarterback next week against the Indianapolis Colts.
The Bills are now 6-6 this season. With the win, the Patriots improve to 10-2.
Here is the Buffalo Bills Week 13 report card:
GRADING THE UNITS
Quarterbacks - F
It wasn't a good day for the Bills' quarterbacks. Tyrod Taylor, who was injured in the fourth quarter, finished with 9 completions on 18 attempts for 65 yards. He was more effective as a runner — three carries for 32 yards — than he was as a passer. This is the Bills' biggest flaw as a team. As much as Taylor is a dynamic athlete, he is an inconsistent quarterback. The Bills need much more out of the position than they're getting. After Taylor left the game, Nathan Peterman entered and wasn't much better. He was 6-15 for 50 yards. He did lead the Bills down to the Patriots' 1-yard-line, but a questionable play call — a fade pass on fourth and goal — failed. Peterman could be the guy next week against the Colts.
Running backs - B+
The Bills' rushing attack had a good game. The team combined for 26 carries for 183 yards — an average of 7 yards per carry. LeSean McCoy had 15 carries for 93 yards to lead the team. He had some good runs against this stingy Patriots defense. Travaris Cadet chipped in with four carries for 22 yards.
Receivers - F
You can blame the quarterback. You can credit the defense. Either way, the Bills' receivers didn't contribute much in this game. The leading receiver in terms of yardage: Zay Jones, with 22. The Bills had no aerial attack against the Patriots. It's a big reason why they lost this game.
Offensive line - B
Tyrod Taylor was sacked three times and Nathan Peterman was sacked once, but those were mostly coverage sacks. Overall, the offensive line was effective. Dion Dawkins is clearly the best player on the line right now. He's a solid run blocker and a good pass blocker. A penalty against Eric Wood wiped out a long gain.
Defensive line - B+
This was one of the defensive line's better games of the season. Shaq Lawson, Adolphus Washington and Kyle Williams had sacks in the losing effort. Washington had six total tackles (four solo) and a tackle for a loss. The defensive line applied more pressure on Brady than they have most quarterbacks this season. Brady isn't the most mobile quarterback in the league, so that helped too.
Linebackers - D
It's clear what the Bills' weakness is on defense. If you can get by the front four, these linebackers aren't going to stop you. Preston Brown is athletic, but too often on running plays he lets the play get behind him. Either he's not in position or he misses a hole. The same is true for other linebackers. Matt Milano should be getting more playing time. He's a better player than Reggie Humber. The linebackers need to be better. You can't give up 191 rushing yards and expect to win a lot of games.
Defensive backs - B+
Tom Brady didn't light up the Bills' defense this time around. The Patriots had some good plays through the air, but the secondary did a nice job against this potent offense. One play that will get overlooked is the interception by Tre'Davious White. What happened after the play (Rob Gronkowski's cheap shot on White) is getting more attention. But White battled Gronkowski and got in position to grab Brady's pass. Micah Hyde led the Bills with 12 tackles (10 solo) in the loss.
Good kick coverage once again for the Bills, even though the Patriots didn't have a lot of opportunities to run the ball back. The Patriots had three combined returns for 28 yards against the Bills.
Brandon Tate wasn't a big factor as a returner. He had three kickoff returns for 68 yards. The Patriots punted the ball three times, but kept the ball away from Tate.
It's difficult to say the Bills were out-coached in this game. They weren't. The Patriots' offense struggled in the first half and the Bills moved the ball with ease on the opening possession. The Bills came prepared. The problem? The defense played the full 60 minutes. The offense sputtered after the opening drive, which ended with an interception.
OVERALL TEAM PERFORMANCE
The grade may surprise you, but the real story was the Bills' offensive woes. They didn't produce on offense and that was the difference in this game. The defense did a good job limiting the Patriots' opportunities. If the offense was more consistent, the result could have been different.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
OFFENSE: Joe Webb. You laugh, but Webb was one of the few bright spots. He had the longest run of the day (22 yards) and threw a beautiful pass down the seam to Travaris Cadet. It may have been an inch too far for Cadet, but it was still a nice play. The Patriots weren't ready for it, that's for sure.
DEFENSE: Adolphus Washington. A good line for Washington: Six tackles (four solo), a sack and two tackles for a loss. That's a good showing for a guy who needs to step in after the Bills traded Marcell Dareus to the Jacksonville Jaguars. This is a chance for Washington to shine.
Quarterback play. The Bills' quarterback situation has received a lot of attention lately. As we saw against the Patriots, there is a reason why Sean McDermott went to Nathan Peterman a couple weeks ago. Taylor, as a passer, just isn't consistent enough and doesn't look down the field enough to give this offense the extra bump it needs to move the ball, especially against great teams like the Patriots. The Bills' defense was good Sunday, but the offense didn't help. Taylor was a big reason why. It's tough to blame the offensive line for a sack when the quarterback holds the ball too long. Taylor's injury could give Peterman another shot as the starter.
STAT OF THE GAME
183. This may surprise you: The Bills had 183 rushing yards against the Patriots — and lost. LeSean McCoy had 15 carries for 93 yards to lead the team. Joe Webb, a backup quarterback and special teams player, took some snaps out of the wildcat formation. He had a team-best 22-yard run. The Bills moved the ball well on the ground and threw some different looks at the Patriots.
STAT OF THE GAME II
3. Three more sacks for the Bills' defensive line. That's five sacks in two weeks for the Bills. That's improved production for a team that hasn't produced a lot of pressure on the quarterback throughout the season. It has been one of the knocks on this team.
Rob Gronkowski should receive additional discipline for his cheap shot on Tre'Davious White. It initially looked as if Gronkowski didn't see that White was already touched down after the interception. But Gronkowski not only saw the play as it happened, he went after White's head. That wasn't a football play. That was a dirty hit. It shouldn't be tolerated by the NFL.
The Bills (6-6) will play at 1 p.m. Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. The game will be televised on CBS.