Former Buffalo Bills coach Chuck Knox would have been proud of the way Bill Belichick passed him on the NFL's all-time coaching victory list on Sunday.
Belichick earned his 194th career win by channeling Knox's "Ground Chuck" mentality. The Patriots pounded the ball down the throat of the Bills' defense en route to a 52-28 victory.
New England's dynamic running back duo of Brandon Bolden and Stevan Ridley - you could almost hear the crowd of 70,684 at Ralph Wilson Stadium asking, mous win in San Francisco in 1992.
It was a schematic and physical beatdown by the Pats.
The Bills chose to stay in their nickel defense almost the whole game, with Scott and Nick Barnett at linebacker and five defensive backs in the secondary. New England countered by using its two-tight end formation almost 40 percent of its plays.
Why stay in the nickel? One reason is the Bills were so worried about defending All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski in the pass game. Another, perhaps, was the Pats ran plays at a fast pace, whether they were in no-huddle mode or not. But the Pats teamed the 265-pound "Gronk" with 265-pound tight end Daniel Fells and shoved the Bills around.
"I think they were really challenging us to run the ball," Brady said. "They had some little guys on the field with our big personnel groupings, so at that point you have to try and take advantage of it. You can't just keep throwing into a heavy pass defense, so we ran it."
"At the end of the day, we tried to match up with their double tight end set and tried to play more nickel against it to try to match up with the passing threats of their receivers and Gronkowski," safety George Wilson said. "As a result they chose to run the ball primarily in those sets. That's the adjustment they made."
By unofficial count, the Pats rushed for 168 of their yards out of their two-tight end formation.
"They will take what you give 'em," Williams said. "They've been that way ever since I've been here. If it sets up for them where they can run, they'll run. . He doesn't press or force anything. He won't throw the ball downfield if he doesn't have to. He'll get rid of the ball and let guys make plays with their feet. He did that today."
The Patriot onslaught started four minutes into the third quarter. Brady marched them 80 yards in eight plays, capped by a 17-yard TD pass to Danny Woodhead. The Bills flushed Brady from the pocket on the play but gave him too much time to find an open man. That pulled the Pats within 21-14.
The next march went 85 yards in eight plays, with Brady scoring on a 4-yard run to tie it.
The next march went 63 yards in five plays, with Brady hitting a wide-open Gronkowski over the middle for a 28-yard score on the first play of the fourth quarter.
"That was really on us because that was a miscommunication," Scott said. "And broken coverages will beat you every time. You can't afford to do that."
Down 28-21, the Bills still were in the game. But Pats linebacker Brandon Spikes put a big hit on Fred Jackson to force a fumble the Pats recovered at the Buffalo 42.
The Pats took the field with four wideouts. The Bills countered with the nickel defense. After a first-down incompletion, the Pats brought on Fells for the two-TE set. The next three plays were runs of 13, 13 and 14 yards. Two plays later Ridley scored from the 2.
"The most discouraging thing about it is they literally ran maybe three running plays," Williams said. "They ran the same thing over and over and over."
"They have what's called a linebacker trap," Williams said. "They'll block back on the nose [Marcell Dareus]. They'll double the 3 [Williams], and pull the guy around. And they ran what's called a kick play. Double the two inside guys and run the ball to the perimeter, either cut back in or back out. I might have gotten three or four different run blocks all game. [They ran] a few stretch plays. ... It was disappointing how we handled that."
"We did different things on defense," Williams said. "We ran different plays. We got in different fronts. But it had more to do with fits. It wasn't about not adjusting. We didn't fit those runs up very well, no matter what we played."
Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had a bad underthrow of a long pass for T.J. Graham that was intercepted in the second quarter. It didn't lead to a Pats score. Other than that, Fitzpatrick was pretty good for the first three quarters. He had TD strikes of 24 and 20 yards to Scott Chandler and a 68-yard TD to Donald Jones, who ran 50 after the catch.
"It was a quick slant," Jones said. "It was press coverage. He had been playing me a certain way in the first half. I came in and told the coaches how he was playing me and they called that play."
But turnovers foiled the Bills, too. C.J. Spiller fumbled on the Pats' 1 just before halftime when the Bills could have stretched the lead to 28-7 and perhaps taken the Pats out of the run game. Fitzpatrick threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter when the rout was on.
Next up for the Bills (2-2) is a tough road trip to San Francisco. New England (2-2) plays host to Denver.