Around the NFL  


Lewis' big day puts Bills' playoff hopes in jeopardy


Dion Lewis churned out a career-high 153 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 29 touches to lead the (12-3) New England Patriots to a 37-16 victory over the (8-7) Buffalo Bills in Week 16. Here's what we learned in Sunday's NFC East tilt:

1. Losing 16-13 early in the third quarter, New England reeled off 24 unanswered points to put Buffalo's postseason livelihood in jeopardy. Tyrod Taylor absorbed five sacks, failing to lead a touchdown drive against the Patriots for the second time this season. The Bills will need to win at Miami and hope for an improbable confluence of upsets to befall the Ravens, Chargers and Titans in the regular-season finale.

2. One of the reasons Taylor failed to lead a touchdown drive? The NFL's labyrinthine "process of the catch" rule reared its ugly head once again, this time in a two-play sequence that cost Buffalo a crucial touchdown to close out the first half. In a play eerily similar to Jesse James' controversial non-catch in Week 15, tight end Charles Clay corralled the ball in the end zone only to lose control as he made contact with the ground. One play later, Kelvin Benjamin's spectacular catch was overturned on a protracted replay-review session that failed to show incontrovertible evidence in either direction. We shall commence our annual plea for the Competition Committee to head back to the drawing board in determined search of a fix to the convoluted catch rule that leaves coaches, players, analysts and fans scratching their heads on a weekly basis.

3. With both Rex Burkhead and James White sidelined, offseason acquisition Mike Gillislee resurfaced for his first reception of the season as well as his first touchdown since Week 2. The former Bills back touched the ball just seven times, though, while Lewis and All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski carried a Patriots attack that hasn't come close to clicking on all cylinders in over a month. Gronkowski had a bigger impact than the box score might suggest, pulling off a spectacular one-handed touchdown over Micah Hyde and drawing a 29-yard pass interference penalty to set up Gillislee's 1-yard score. If not for the penalty and a trio of first-half Tom Brady misfires in his direction, Gronkowski would have cleared the century mark for his third consecutive game.

4. Directing a disjointed first-half aerial attack that included a pick-six to Jordan Poyer, Brady found himself with a five-game interception streak for the first time in 15 years. The prospective 2017 MVP regrouped in the second half, however, connecting on his first nine pass attempts to put the game out of reach. If the Pats take care of business against Bryce Petty and the Jets next week, they will clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. How important is the No. 1 seed? The AFC's top-seeded team has advanced to the Super Bowl in each of the past four seasons. Brady's Patriots have enjoyed home-field advantage in five of their seven Super Bowl runs.


Fan Discussion