The Hot Read was created to offer immediate reactions to events taking place in sports, but Sunday's game between the Bills and Patriots didn't exactly qualify as breaking news. I could have started writing the "Hot Read" last week and inserted names, stats and score Sunday.
So how about the cold truth instead?
Buffalo remains a long, long way from staying with New England, and the playoff drought could very well be old enough to buy a pack of cigarettes after this season. They play Indianapolis next week before finishing the season with two games against the Dolphins and another on the road against the Pats.
New England didn't need Tom Brady at the top of his game Sunday to beat Buffalo, 23-3, in New Era Field. The Patriots made a commitment to the running game and executed as planned, rushing for 191 yards and two touchdowns from Rex Burkhead while Brady threw for 258 yards and no TDs.
Brady improved to 27-3 in his career against Buffalo, including 14-2 in games in Orchard Park. In other words, it was a game like many others between the two teams in which the Bills had a glimmer of hope before meeting the reality of the Patriots and losing again in the end.
If the script was altered Sunday, it was the Bills containing Brady in the first half and giving them hope going into the third. The Pats took a 16-3 lead after marching 70 yards on their first possession of the second half and a 23-3 lead when Rex Burkhead rumbled through the middle for a 14-yard TD.
At that point, Brady had 206 yards passing while New England had 183 yards rushing in a balanced attack. The Patriots had the ball for 10 minutes, 36 seconds in the third quarter while once again showing they can beat teams in numerous ways. Sunday's game was the eighth straight in which the Pats allowed 17 points or fewer.
The Bills fell to 6-6 record, enough to stay in the playoff race. If the Bills don't get their offense in order, and quick, they can kiss the postseason goodbye.
Rob Gronkowski inflicted his usual pain on the Bills with nine catches for 147 yards before unloading with a nasty hit on Tre'Davious White after the cornerback pushed off to intercept Brady in the fourth quarter. Gronk came from behind and delivered a shot to White's head, sending him to the locker room with an apparent concussion.
Buffalo's defensive front seven, which had numerous problems during three lopsided losses before gathering themselves against Kansas City, was able to get pressure on Brady in the first half. Brady was sacked three times and had only 96 yards passing and two field goals to show for the first two quarters.
Buffalo held New England to a field goal after Dion Lewis broke free on a 44-yard run in the second quarter before drawing within 6-3, with 3:05 remaining on Stephen Hauschka's 49-yarder that had just enough distance. It easily could have been a Patriots touchdown and the Bills falling short on offense.
Still, it seemed a matter of time before Gronk, who had 28 yards receiving at halftime, asserted himself. Brady found Gronk three times for 50 yards as they marched 70 yards for a touchdown to start the third quarter. If the Pats weren't in control in the first two quarters, they were with a 16-3 lead in the third.
The Bills couldn't have asked for a better start, but they managed to self-destruct as they have so many times over the years. This time, it was Taylor throwing the ball directly into the arms of Patriots defensive end Eric Lee for an interception. Yes, that's the same Eric Lee who was plucked from the Bills' practice squad.
Lee had a sack last week in his first game with New England. He had an interception and 1-1/2 sacks and batted down a pass against the Bills, the same team that couldn't find a place for him while they were giving up 35 points per game during a three-game losing streak. Like the result Sunday, none of this should be a surprise to long-suffering Buffalo fans.