Jerry Sullivan: Pats even poach from Bills' practice squad - The Buffalo News

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Jerry Sullivan: Pats even poach from Bills' practice squad

Column as I see 'em, Week 13:

Loathe him or hate him, you have to admit Bill Belichick has a gift for getting over on the Bills. It was bad enough that he poached Chris Hogan, Stephon Gilmore and Mike Gillislee in free agency. Now, the Patriots' hooded leader is poaching players off Buffalo's practice squad.

Last Tuesday, New England signed defensive end Eric Lee off the Bills' taxi squad. Yes, Lee wasn't good enough to play for a defense that had just finished the worst three-game stretch in franchise history, but he was good enough to play for Belichick five days later.

Lee, who was undrafted in 2016 out of South Florida, played 25 snaps in the Pats' 35-17 win over the Dolphins in his NFL debut Sunday. He had four tackles and a sack. Lee played in obvious passing situations, which gave him more snaps when the Pats jumped to an early lead.

In addition to his sack — one of seven by the Pats — Lee had a bull rush that led to another sack of Matt Moore by Trey Flowers. A few plays later, Gilmore, who has been actually earning his money lately, intercepted a Moore pass in the end zone.

Lee, a 6-3, 260-pound native of Daphne, Ala., was originally signed by the Texans in 2016 and spent the season on Houston's practice squad. He was released before the start of the regular season and signed by the Bills. Lee was activated in Week 4, but didn't play against the Falcons.

Of course, what Belichick does best against the Bills is beat them. The Pats are 28-4 against the Bills since Tom Brady took over for Drew Bledsoe as quarterback in 2001. Two of those wins came in a 2014 season finale when the Pats had nothing to gain and last year when Brady was on suspension.

Bucky Gleason: Bills enjoy win over Chiefs, quickly turn attention toward Pats

Over the last 16 years with Brady as the starter, the Pats were 103-25 in the second halves of seasons, or 80 percent. That was 10 games better than their overall record in first halves. They're at it again, with seven wins in a row and three straight since the midpoint.

"It's like this every time," safety Malcolm Butler told reporters after Sunday's win. "New pieces starting fitting in. We start the season slow, finish fast. We start peaking after Thanksgiving."

The Bills have never beaten the Pats in a game that mattered after early October in the Brady era. They'll try again on Sunday at New Era. It'll be a challenge for Tyrod Taylor against a Pats defense that has held opponents to 17 points or less in seven straight games.

As Butler said, new pieces are fitting in. The newest one came right off the Bills' practice squad, just in time for the trip to Buffalo.

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Remember when Denver came to New Era Field in the third week of the season, unbeaten after a 42-17 win over the Cowboys and being touted as a possible Super Bowl contender?

Well, the Broncos lost to the Bills that day and never recovered. They've lost seven in a row and eight of nine after Sunday's 21-14 loss to the Raiders. It's Denver's first seven-game losing streak since 1967, in the old AFL days.

Quarterback Trevor Siemian, flying high until the trip to Buffalo, was benched for Brock Osweiler after seven games. Osweiler, predictably terrible, gave way to second-year man Paxton Lynch, who left the Raiders game with an ankle injury and gave way to Siemian in the third quarter.

Last week, the Broncos fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. It didn't help as Denver failed to score 20 points for the eighth time in nine games. McCoy, of course, was Sean McDermott's choice to be the Bills' coordinator before he settled for Rick Dennison. Food for thought.

By the way, the coach for the Broncos when they suffered their last seven-game losing streak in their AFL days in 1967? Lou Saban. And where did they break the streak, which reached nine games? At War Memorial Stadium, in a 21-20 win over the Bills.

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Is He Owned? This week's featured fantasy find is Arizona rookie tight end Ricky Seals-Jones, who has caught three touchdown passes over the Cardinals' last two games after getting one snap in the first 10 weeks.

Seals-Jones, who is 6-5, 243 pounds, was undrafted last spring out of Texas A&M. The Cardinals signed him after the draft and switched him to tight end. The move is finally paying off.

The Sealy, Texas, native saw his first extended work two weeks ago, catching three passes for 54 yards and two touchdowns in a loss to Houston. On Sunday, he had four grabs for 72 yards and a touchdown in the Cardinals' 27-24 upset of Jacksonville.

Seals-Jones was a highly touted wide receiver for the Aggies, but never fulfilled expectations. He entered the draft after an unremarkable junior season, when he had 26 catches for 333 yards. He's the cousin of Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson.

Last week, he was still available in 98 percent of leagues. If your tight end is struggling (like mine), he's worth a pickup for the stretch.

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Stats Incredible: The Lions have gone 63 games without a 100-yard rusher since Reggie Bush did it four years ago Tuesday against the Vikings ... Amazing as it sounds, the Raiders intercepted their first pass of the season when the Broncos' Lynch threw a pick to NaVorro Bowman in the end zone ... Julio Jones had 253 yards receiving in Atlanta's 34-20 win over the Bucs. It was the third 200-yard day of his career. The Bills have five 200-yard receiving days in their history: Lee Evans (265), James Lofton (220), Jerry Butler (255), Glenn Bass (231) and Elbert Dubenion (218). Eric Moulds had 196 yards twice ... The Chiefs, who averaged 33 points a game in their 5-0 start, had nine points against a Giants team that had allowed 82 points in its previous two games, then 10 against the Bills, who had given up 101 in their last two ... Rob Gronkowski scored two touchdowns against Miami, giving him 16 career multiple-TD games to break a tie with Randy Moss for the franchise record. The Pats are 23-1 in the last 24 regular-season games when Gronk finds the end zone ...

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