The Buffalo Bills couldn't stop New England running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead because they couldn't contend with the Patriots' blocking scheme.
New England's offensive line and tight ends Algie Crumpler and Rob Gronkowski were outstanding during Sunday's 34-3 victory. The holes they opened paved the way for Green-Ellis and Woodhead to combine for 197 of the Patriots' 217 rushing yards.
"Those guys did a good job of getting us moving one way and allowing the backs to cut back off that," said Bills nose tackle Kyle Williams.
Williams was the focus of the Patriots' game plan. They felt if they could control him, it would allow offensive linemen a chance to get to the Bills' linebackers at the second level of the defense.
Good blocking on the right side allowed Green-Ellis to gain 10 yards on third-and-two from the Patriots' 31. Tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Algie Crumpler got kick-out blocks on defensive end Chris Kelsay and cornerback Leodis McKelvin and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer drove back Bryan Scott, who was playing nickel linebacker. Green-Ellis ran through Marcus Stroud's clutches at the 34, absorbed a blow from strong safety Donte Whitner at the 38 and kept driving forward before going down at the 43.
It was Woodhead's turn on New England's next drive, scoring on a 29-yard run. The Patriots used a four-receiver shotgun formation to get the Bills in their nickel package. It was almost a carbon copy of his 22-yard touchdown in the first meeting. Gronkowski began to slide from the left side to the right before the snap and delivered a perfect trap block on backup nose tackle Torell Troup. Mankins released outside and blocked Kelsay. Koppen and right guard Ryan Wendell controlled Stroud with a double team. Woodhead hit the hole, cut off left tackle Matt Light's block on Paul Posluszny. Kelsay spun off Mankins' block too late as Woodhead ran by and outraced free safety Jairus Byrd to the end zone.
One of the best runs of the day was a 6-yard gain by Woodhead in the third quarter. Crumpler started in motion and got a stalemate with Williams at the line of scrimmage. Woodhead cut off the block to his left, where Mankins and Light got blocks on Kelsay and Johnson and Koppen moved to the second level and got Posluszny. The 5-foot-6 Woodhead then showed some power by lowering his shoulder and knocked Whitner backwards. Whitner held on long enough for Posluszny to assist on the tackle.
"He's a really shifty guy and a tough guy also," Whitner said of Woodhead.
-- Allen Wilson