Patriots, Brady return to past success

AP Photo/Gary Wiepert

Tom Brady beat the Bills on the ground and in the air.

For about 30 minutes, it seemed a possibility that the Buffalo Bills would beat the New England Patriots for the second straight season.

That evaporated very quickly in the second half of a game for which the final score was a 52-28 rout.

This was a historically-significant win for the Patriots. Let’s take a closer look at what made it so noteworthy.

First time for everything

This marked the first time the Patriots scored 45 points in the second half of a game. It’s the first time any team scored 45 points or more in the second half since the 1972 Cincinnati Bengals did so against the Oilers .

And a second time for everything too …

Brandon Bolden (137 rush yds) and Stevan Ridley (106) are the first Patriots teammates with 100 rushing yards in a game since Nov. 23, 1980 (Don Calhoun & Vagas Ferguson).

Patriots Trailing Bills at Halftime
Past 5 Instances

This also marked the second straight week that the Patriots had a pair of 100-yard receivers (in this case: Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski).

We can combine the two notes and get the following stat, courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau.

The Patriots are the second team in NFL history with a pair of 100-yard rushers and a pair of 100-yard receivers in the same game. The other was the Green Bay Packers against the Detroit Lions in 2008.

The 52 points are also the second-most scored against the Bills at their home field.

The only other time in franchise history the Bills allowed 50-or-more points at home was Week 11 in 2007 (November 18) in a 56-10 loss to the Patriots.

Offensive Key to victory: Between the tackles

Ridley, Bolden and even Tom Brady on one play, shredded the Bills’ interior run defense.

The Patriots gained 200 of their 247 rushing yards between the tackles, the

third-highest yardage total of any team since the start of the 2008 season.

The Patriots 200 yards rushing inside the tackles was more than the Bills had allowed in their first three games of the season (166).

Offensive Key to Victory II: Brady’s deep touch

Brady found his range downfield in the second half. Brady threw two of his three touchdowns on passes at least 15 yards downfield. Both of Brady’s deep touchdowns came against five or more pass rushers.

Attempts of 15+ Yards Downfield
Tom Brady, 2012 Season

Brady had a much better time throwing the ball downfield than he did in the first three games of the season, as the chart on the right shows.

Last season, Brady had the third-highest completion rate on throws of 15-or-more yards (51 percent).

Brady also finished 3-for-4 for 61 yards when the Bills sent five or more rushers.

He has now thrown a touchdown in 36 straight games, tying Brett Favre for the third-longest streak in NFL history.

This just in if you wish to add it…

Brady completed 17-of-22 passes for 269 yards and accounted for three touchdowns when the score was tied or the Patriots were trailing on Sunday. He had a 99.3 Total QBR when the Patriots were trailing. His Total QBR when the Patriots trailed in their other three games this season was 65.3

Brady is now 19-2 all-time in his career against the Bills.

Defensive Key to Victory: Defending the empty backfield

Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had success passing with an empty backfield in the first 30 minutes, with five completions in nine attempts, but that fortune faded away in the second half. Fitzpatrick completed just 1-of-9 passes with an empty backfield in the final two quarters, threw two interceptions and was strip-sacked as well.

Fitzpatrick finished with a very unusual line- four touchdowns and four interceptions. He is the first quarterback in Bills history to post that line in a game and the first to ever post such a line against the Patriots.

Coincidentally, the last quarterback with a four-touchdown, four-interception game was Brady in the loss to the Bills last season.