Bills vs. Bill Belichick
Hallelujah, the Bills got the better of their all-time nemesis … for one day, at least. No, the game didn’t mean much. But Belichick usually beats the Bills in meaningless games. The victory was Buffalo’s fourth in 30 tries against Belichick’s Patriots. Belichick, 62, stands fourth all-time in coaching victories with a record of 230-118. No. 3 on the list is Tom Landry, at 270-178-6. If Tom Brady keeps playing at a reasonably high level, it’s possible Belichick could catch Landry in four years. Brady turns 38 in August. One more playoff victory will tie Belichick with Landry (20) for most ever. The Bills have had six head coaches during Belichick’s New England tenure. Not beating themselves is one of the hallmarks of Belichick-coached teams. Over the past 10 seasons, the Patriots are plus-116 in turnover margin. The Bills are minus-16 over the same stretch.
Bills offense vs. Pats in red zone
Red-zone offense has been a trouble area for the Bills all season, but they turned it around in their season finale by scoring on both of their trips inside New England’s 20-yard line. Buffalo’s offense entered the game ranked 31st in the NFL, scoring on only 40.8 percent of red-zone possessions. The Bills have ranked in the bottom half of the league in red-zone offense 11 of the past 12 seasons. Sunday they took advantage of a coverage mix-up by the Patriots to get a TD on the first drive of the game. Kyle Orton threw a 6-yard TD strike to Robert Woods. The second score was the result of strong running. After MarQuies Gray caught a 7-yard pass, Fred Jackson powered for two 4-yard gains. Then Anthony Dixon plowed over from the 1 to give Buffalo a 14-3 advantage.
Jim Schwartz vs. Pats backups
A cast of backups was no match for a Bills defense ranked fourth in the NFL in yards allowed and fifth in points allowed. Backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo never looked like he was threatening a comeback in relief of Tom Brady in the second half. The Bills held the Pats to 144 net passing yards to finish the season ranked third against the pass. Buffalo yielded only 205.8 yards a game. Credit the Bills’ secondary with a strong game without starter Stephon Gilmore in the lineup. Corey Graham, Nickell Robey and Aaron Williams were outstanding. It’s amazing fans talked so little about ex-Bill Jairus Byrd this season. Buffalo finished with 54 sacks, just three fewer than their franchise-record total of 57 last season. They allowed only 106 rushing yards a game, a big improvement over last season, when they yielded 129 a game.