WR Aaron Dobson plays arguably his best game as a Patriot

Patriots receiver Aaron Dobson had one of his best games of his three-year career Sunday at Buffalo. Kevin Hoffman/Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- When New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady analyzed Sunday's 40-32 victory over the Buffalo Bills, he touched on the contributions of many. Among the group was a player who hasn't always been in that discussion.

"Aaron Dobson stepped up," he said.

Dobson, the 2013 second-round draft choice out of Marshall, turned in arguably the best game of his career in finishing with seven catches for 87 yards. The seven catches tied a career high (vs. Tampa, Sept. 22, 2013), while the 87 yards were his second highest total (130 vs. Pittsburgh, Nov. 3, 2013).

Developing a rapport with Brady has been a work in progress for the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Dobson.

As a rookie, he played in 12 games with nine starts, totaling 37 receptions for 519 yards and four touchdowns. But after undergoing surgery on his foot in the offseason leading into his second season, Dobson didn't build on that momentum in 2014. He finished last season with three catches for 38 yards, landing on injured reserve in early December (hamstring) as Brandon LaFell decisively took over his role as the top outside receiver.

With LaFell currently on the physically unable to perform list, Dobson has re-emerged.

Of the Patriots' 86 total offensive plays against the Bills, he was on for 70 of them, playing in the two-receiver set opposite Julian Edelman and naturally staying on in the three-receiver package.

His work was one of the things that stood out most in this week's snap-count analysis:

Total offensive plays: 86

Total defensive plays: 72


Julian Edelman 75

Aaron Dobson 70

Danny Amendola 36

Matthew Slater 4

Notes: Dobson played 57 snaps all last season, so he eclipsed that total in one game Sunday. In the opener against Pittsburgh, he had played 30 snaps and had one catch for nine yards. ...Amendola had just one catch, but it was a beauty -- a 29-yarder in the fourth quarter in which he ran a seam route and said he was mostly battling the sun as he made the leaping, diving grab.


C David Andrews 86

G Josh Kline 86

LT Nate Solder 78

LG Shaq Mason 57

OT Marcus Cannon 50

RT Sebastian Vollmer 49

RG Tre' Jackson 27

Notes: Andrews has played every snap through the first two games and held his ground. He played at a high level of competition in the SEC while at Georgia but said after the game, "Hostile environments are hostile environments, but [this is] a lot different level of competition." ...When Jackson entered the game for Mason, he was inserted at right guard and Kline flipped to the left side. ...Cannon, the top swing tackle, had a high total as part of a natural rotation and also because he filled in when Vollmer took an extended break with a finger injury.


Rob Gronkowski 81

Scott Chandler 43

Michael Williams 21

Michael Hoomanawanui 10

Notes: When the Patriots scored three straight touchdowns to go ahead 21-7 in the first half, they ran 11 of their 12 plays over that stretch with two or more tight ends on the field. Gronkowski's 2-yard touchdown reception, for example, came out of the four-TE grouping.


Tom Brady 86

Notes: Brady's 59 pass attempts were the second highest of his career, behind only his 65 against San Francisco in the 2012 season.


Dion Lewis 73

LeGarrette Blount 7

Brandon Bolden 5

Travaris Cadet 3

Notes: The plan called for spreading the field and throwing, which meant it was a game for the top "passing back" to lead the way, and that is Lewis. He was often split out wide as a receiver. Cadet was active over James White, in part because he adds more value on special teams, serving as a gunner on the punt coverage unit.


Sealver Siliga 44

Alan Branch 25

Malcom Brown 21

Geneo Grissom 10

Notes: Grissom came on as an interior rusher in the dime. ...Brown, the first-round pick out of Texas, got pushed back on Karlos Williams' 2-yard touchdown run, but nicely held his ground on a tackle late in the first quarter on a 2-yard run late that same quarter.


Rob Ninkovich 63

Chandler Jones 62

Jabaal Sheard 45

Rufus Johnson 13

Notes: Ninkovich and Jones worked through some initial struggles on the edge in the run game to have production games. Sheard's presence as a third man in the rotation is giving them a breather at times that they haven't had in recent years. ... Johnson was part of the dime package as an interior rusher and appeared to stay disciplined in his rush lane, a key assignment against a running quarterback such as Tyrod Taylor.


Jamie Collins 72

Dont'a Hightower 69

Jerod Mayo 16

Jonathan Freeny 2

Notes: The only time Hightower came off the field was in the dime package. ...Mayo played only in the base defense and is also part of the punt coverage team as he was earlier in his career.


Malcolm Butler 72

Tarell Brown 53

Logan Ryan 50

Bradley Fletcher 19

Notes: Ryan bumped up from the No. 4 to No. 3 spot over Fletcher, which was a change from Week 1. ...Fletcher came on for Brown, the starter on the right side, for a stretch in the first half when Brown appeared to be working through something health-related.


Devin McCourty 72

Patrick Chung 61

Duron Harmon 22

Tavon Wilson 1

Notes: With a focus more on defending the run game, Chung played more than Harmon. That flipped the script from the opening week against the Steelers, when the Patriots were mostly in sub packages and Harmon had more snaps than Chung.