Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots: Risers and Fallers

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

A look back at the Buffalo Bills’ Week 16 loss to the New England Patriots.

The Buffalo Bills’ Week 16 was a tough pill to swallow for a number of reasons.

With the Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Chargers getting wins, Buffalo’s path to the playoffs only got tougher in Week 17.

The Bills were leading in the third quarter. Oh, and there was this call that changed the dynamic of the game before halftime, too.

But now that’s all history. And the only thing that matters is what’s on tap this weekend.

The Bills are playing on the final weekend of the regular season with a chance to make the playoffs.

You know the drill, this column profiles the players who took steps forward and also regressed each week. Welcome to Risers and Fallers.


Kelvin Benjamin

Overturned touchdown aside, Kelvin Benjamin proved why the Bills traded for him at the deadline.

Benjamin only finished with five catches for 70 yards, but if that touchdown hadn’t been overturned, his outing would have looked much different.

Either way, Benjamin came up with big catch after big catch, including a pair of third-down receptions that would lead to two field goals.

There was also the 35-yard reception that Benjamin mossed Stephon Gilmore.

And remember, Benjamin was able to do all of this on one leg. Imagine what he’ll do for the Buffalo offense when he’s healthy next year.

Jordan Poyer

Jordan Poyer made a play that he’ll likely never forget – a Tom Brady pick six.

According to Pro Football Focus, the talented safety was Buffalo’s top defender against the Patriots. Poyer registered an 82.3, which ranked second only behind LeSean McCoy.

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Overall, Poyer was targeted four times and allowed three receptions for 32 yards. He also finished with a pass defense to pair with his interception and six tackles.

LeSean McCoy

LeSean McCoy was once again the focal point of the offense.

The Pro Bowl running back finished with 22 touches for 147 yards.

McCoy’s biggest impact came in the passing game, when he “averaged 2.71 yards per route run and Tyrod Taylor had a passer rating of 106.8 when targeting the star running back,” according to PFF.


Mike Tolbert

Why Mike Tolbert continues to touch the ball is beyond me.

The fact that he’s an alternate for the Pro Bowl is likely concerning for anyone who enjoys the all-star game.

While he didn’t touch the ball often on Sunday, Tolbert often had a negative impact when the ball was in his hands. He finished with three carries for minus-three yards and one reception for 11 yards.

Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills /

Buffalo Bills

When Tolbert is in the game, it often means LeSean McCoy is off of the field. Tolbert stops drives.

With Travaris Cadet on the injured reserve, it’s a little concerning what Tolbert’s role will be Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. If anything, it should be nothing more than a short-yardage back, and that might not even be a good fit.

Tyrod Taylor

This past Sunday’s performance was one of those games where you say to yourself, “Hmm, I understand why Sean McDermott benched Tyrod Taylor for Nathan Peterman.”

Once again, the Bills didn’t score an offensive touchdown against New England.

While that isn’t completely Taylor’s fault – he had a touchdown pass questionably overturned – he needed to be much, much better.

Taylor was responsible for four of the six times he was sacked and only registered 6.7 net yards per attempt while under pressure according to Pro Football Focus.

Leonard Johnson

Leonard Johnson has often been reliable in the slot of Buffalo this season. However, that wasn’t the case against the a Patriots.

Johnson allowed five receptions for 61 yards on the five times he was targeted. Forty one of those yards came after contact due to three missed tackles.

Next: How Buffalo can sneak into the playoffs

Buffalo’s going to need a better showing out of Johnson on Sunday, facing the talented Jarvis Landry.