FOXBOROUGH — With questions swirling around how the New England Patriots would respond to the loss of receiver Josh Gordon to a suspension, the team instead opted for a different approach on Sunday, running the ball right down Buffalo's throat.
The Patriots rushed for 273 yards on 47 carries, cruising to an easy — if somewhat ugly — 24-12 win over the Bills. The win clinched New England's 10th consecutive AFC East championship, ensuring the Patriots no worse than the No. 4 seed in the upcoming playoffs.
Sony Michel led the way on the ground, taking 18 carries for 116 yards and a touchdown. James White also had 41 yards rushing, including a 27-yard touchdown scamper, and Julian Edelman scored the dagger with a 32-yard touchdown catch on fourth down in which he rolled over a Buffalo tackler's body and kept running after the defender presumed he was down.
Cordarrelle Patterson also racked up a season-high 66 yards on four carries, primarily on jet sweeps, before leaving the game in the second half with a knee injury.
While the rushing offense was a highlight, the passing offense was nearly non-existent. Tom Brady was 13 for 24 with 126 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. His 48.3 rating was his lowest since 2006.
Edelman was also the only receiver to make any kind of impact. He made six catches on 10 targets for 70 yards. Patterson was the only other wide receiver to even receive a target, making one catch for three yards. Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett weren't targeted and Rob Gronkowski didn't catch either of the two balls thrown his way, letting one go straight through his hands and into a defender for an interception.
Defensively, the Patriots have now gone seven straight quarters without allowing a touchdown. The run defense in particular was much improved, allowing only 72 yards on 18 carries while largely containing mobile Buffalo rookie quarterback Josh Allen.