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Third-quarter analysis: Defense holding steady against Brady-less Patriots

The New England Patriots went into full "preseason" mode in the third quarter of Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium.

Rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo replaced Tom Brady in the New England lineup to start the second half. With the Patriots having already locked up the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs, they sat out or limited the playing time of several starters.

The Bills' defense, just like it did in the first half against Brady, held steady against Garoppolo. New England managed just a 35-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski.

New England went for it on fourth and 1 from the Bills' 13-yard line, but Garoppolo was stopped by Bills cornerback Ron Brooks.

Return troubles: The Bills let up a pair of good punt returns by New England's Danny Amendola in the third quarter, for 15 and 26 yards, respectively. The first was erased by a penalty, but the second set up Gostkowski's field goal.

Not yet: Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes came into the game with 9.5 sacks. He looked to get into double digits in the third quarter when he brought down Garoppolo but the play was negated by a holding penalty called against Bills cornerback Corey Graham.


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