Halftime: Patriots 21, Bills 10

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Halftime: Patriots 21, Bills 10

The formula worked so well last week, it appears the Bills are trying it again.

They played a miserable first half against the Raiders last Sunday, falling behind 21-3 before rallying for a 38-35 victory. And today, they replicated that start against the Patriots, falling behind 21-0 in the first 25 minutes.

But they showed signs of life with an efficient 7-play, 96-yard drive late in the second quarter and closed the gap to 21-7 on an 11-yard touchdown from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Stevie Johnson.

Then an interception by Bryan Scott on the Bills' 10-yard with a minute left in the half stopped a Patriots drive that seemed destined to produce yet another touchdown. And Buffalo sliced the Pats' defense with a near-perfect two-minute offense, going 66 yards in 10 plays and getting a 42-yard field goal from Rian Lindell with three seconds left.

So the half ended with the Bills facing a smaller deficit -- 21-10 -- than they erased last week against Oakland.

No one would have guessed the game would be in question after the first quarter-and-a-half, which was completely dominated by New England.

The Patriots offense got a pair of Tom Brady touchdown passes -- one of 14 yards to Wes Welker and the other of one yard to upstate New York native Rob Gronkowski -- and the Patriots defense got a pair of drive-killing interceptions by Kyle Arrington as New England jumped out a 14-0 lead after one quarter.

They made it 21-0 with six minutes to go in the second quarter when Brady hit Gronkowski for another TD, this one of 26 yards. It was set up by a 21-yard Brady-to-Gronkowski completion on the play before.

Sanu on Patriots' Super Bowl comeback: Lady Gaga's long halftime hurt Falcons

Sanu on Patriots' Super Bowl comeback: Lady Gaga's long halftime hurt Falcons

Three weeks removed from his team blowing a 25-point, second-half lead in the Super Bowl, Mohamed Sanu offered a possible explanation for the Atlanta Falcons losing their edge against the Patriots.

Lady Gaga.

More specifically, it was the half-hour-plus halftime show that interrupted the Falcons' rhythm, the receiver said Friday on the NFL Network's "Good Morning Football."

“Usually, halftime is only like 15 minutes, and when you’re not on the field for like an hour, it’s just like going to work out, like a great workout, and you go sit on the couch for an hour and then try to start working out again,” Sanu said.

Sanu was asked if the delay was something you can simulate in practice. 

"It's really the energy [you can't duplicate]," he said. "I don't know if you can simulate something like that. That was my first time experiencing something like that."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick did simulate it. In his Super Bowl practices, he had his team take long breaks in the middle.

Sanu also addressed the Falcons' pass-first play-calling that didn't eat up clock while the Patriots came back.

"The thought [that they weren't running the ball more] crossed your mind, but as a player, you're going to do what the coach [Dan Quinn] wants you to do." Sanu said. "He's called plays like that all the time."


 

It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

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It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

The Patriots received a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 from the Browns in return for Jamie Collins. That's how the trade was described on the league's transaction wire. 

The "condition" of that fourth-rounder? Well, if the Browns received a third-round compensatory pick in 2017, the Patriots would nab that pick instead. 

On Friday, the NFL announced that the Browns had in fact been awarded a third-round compensatory pick, which meant that almost three full weeks after Super Bowl LI, everything was still coming up Patriots.

In actuality, the odds were pretty good all along that the Patriots would get what they got

Cleveland lost Pro Bowl center Alex Mack in free agency last offseason when he opted to sign with the Falcons. Because compensatory picks are based on free agents lost and free agents acquired, and because the Browns did not sign any similarly-impactful free agents, there was a good chance Mack's departure would render a third-round comp pick that would be shipped to New England.

Had Mack suffered a significant injury that forced his play to drop off or limited his time on the field, a third-rounder may have been out of the question, but he played well (named a Pro Bowler and a Second Team All-Pro) and stayed healthy -- lucky for the Patriots -- missing just 17 total snaps in the regular season. 

The Browns comp pick that will be sent to New England is No. 103 overall. The Patriots were also awarded a fifth-round comp pick, No. 185 overall. That was a result of the league weighing the departures of Akiem Hicks and Tavon Wilson against the arrival of Shea McClellin.

The Patriots now have nine selections in this year's draft: One first-rounder; one second-rounder; two third-rounders; one fourth-rounder*; two fifth-rounders; two seventh-rounders.

The third-round compensatory pick acquired by the Patriots carries additional value this year in that it is the first year in which compensatory picks can be traded. A near top-100 overall selection may allow the Patriots to move up the draft board or build assets in the middle rounds should they be inclined to deal. And we know they oftentimes are. 

* The Patriots forfeited their highest fourth-round selection in this year's draft as part of their Deflategate punishment. They acquired a fourth-round pick from the Seahawks last year. Because that would have been the higher of their two selections, that's the one they'll lose. They will make their own fourth-round pick at No. 137 overall.