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New England Patriots: 3 things we learned in Week 11

By The Sports Xchange
New England Patriots: 3 things we learned in Week 11
New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola (80) dodges a tackle by Buffalo Bills safety Duke Williams (27) on a 41-yard reception in the third quarter at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts on November 23, 2015. The Patriots defeated the Bills 20-13. Photo by Matthew Healey/ UPI | License Photo

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The injuries keep piling up for the New England Patriots.

But so do the wins.

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The undefeated defending NFL champions scratched and clawed their way to a 20-13 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Monday night but suffered more manpower problems with a game at Denver coming up on Sunday night.

Danny Amendola, who replaced injured Julian Edelman as the primary possession receiver and caught nine passes for 117 yards, suffered a knee injury in the third quarter after fellow receiver Aaron Dobson went out with an ankle injury. Amendola was hurt when he was back to return a punt and the ball bounced without him fielding it.

So the Patriots (10-0) finished the tough, physical battle with two wide receivers and one of them, Chris Harper, was just brought back from the practice squad.

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It led to an uneven win.

"I don't think that's an excuse. I think we can play better," quarterback Tom Brady said after his 25th win in 28 starts against the Bills. "I think some of the things that we didn't do well had nothing to do with missing some of the guys. We've just gotta do things better if we want to score more points."

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James White, who has gone from inactive to replacing injured Dion Lewis as the third-down back, scored the first two touchdowns of his NFL career, one of a nifty pass catch-and-run, and Stephen Gostkowski kicked two field goals as the Patriots won their 13th straight dating to the 2014 postseason.

"We'll take it and move on to Denver," coach Bill Belichick said.

Amendola made it off the field on his own and never left the sideline. Dobson was helped off the field and was taken the rest of the way to the locker room on a cart.

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Brady, pressured and hit throughout, threw one touchdown pass and his third interception of the season, finishing 20 of 39 for 277 yards. He is 26-3 lifetime against Buffalo, including 2-0 this season.

New England scored in the first three quarters but came up empty in the fourth, ending a run of an NFL-record 38 straight quarters with points since being blanked in the first quarter of the season.

The officials had a terrible night, often appearing as if they had no idea what was going on.

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A bizarre play in the third quarter may well have taken seven points away from New England. Brady scrambled to his right and, as he was nearing the sideline, threw 14 yards to an open Amendola, who had only one opposing player between himself and a touchdown.

But a whistle blew and, after a long meeting, the play was blown dead after 14 yards -- and Ryan got a sideline penalty for 15 more yards. With the crowd booing, the Patriots kept moving and Gostkowski missed wide right from 54 yards -- ending his streak of 31 straight field goals overall and 52 at home.

What we learned about the Patriots:

1. Take away Julian Edelman? No big deal. Take away Danny Amendola, the guy who took his place? Now that could be a problem. Amendola ran the Bills ragged to the tune of nine catches for 117 yards but suffered a knee injury not fielding a punt return. In addition, Aaron Dobson, doubtful for the game with a back injury, injured an ankle during the game. No word on either after the game.

2. The Patriots can win even on nights Tom Brady isn't at his best. Brady was chased and hit from the first snap on Monday and finished just 20 of 39 for 277 yards, a touchdown and his third interception of the year. But he had enough to increase his record against Buffalo to 25-3.

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3. The Patriots are the fourth Super Bowl champion to start the next season with 10 straight wins and have reached double figures in victories for the 13th straight season. The other three Super Bowl champs to start at least 10-0 were the 2011 Green Bay Packers (13-0), the 1998 Denver Broncos (13-0) and 1990 San Francisco 49ers (10-0).

Etc.

--QB Tom Brady improved his career record as a starter against the Buffalo Bills to 25-3 with Monday night's win. The 25 wins are the second most in NFL history by any quarterback against any team. Brett Favre's 26 victories against the Detroit Lions represents the NFL record. He has thrown 62 touchdown passes against Buffalo, also second most all time. Dan Marino had 72 against the New York Jets to set the record. Brady is also 41-12 in November, the fourth-best percentage (at least 20 starts).

--Rookie C David Andrews had played every snap of the season because of injuries to the offensive front. Andrews was guilty of a penalty on the first series Monday night and was replaced by Bryan Stork, the center who missed the first seven games. Later, Stork moved to guard and Andrews came back into the game.

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--K Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 35-yard field goal for the first points of the game, his 31st straight without a miss overall and his 52nd in a row at home. He then missed wide right on a 54-yarder to end the streaks before kicking another 35-yarder in the third quarter.

--RB James White scored the first two touchdowns of his NFL career in the win. He caught a 10-yard pass from Tom Brady at the 10, broke a Corey Graham tackle and scored in the first half. He also ran 6 yards for a score in the second. "Anything I can do to help this team win, I'm going to try and do it and it felt good to put some points on the board," he said.

--WR Danny Amendola caught nine passes for 117 yards in his first game as the primary possession target with Julian Edelman gone with a broken foot. But the seventh 100-yard game of Amendola's career ended early when he left with a knee injury. He didn't leave the bench area but didn't return to the game. "We'll see what the situation is," said coach Bill Belichick, who also has to deal with an ankle injury to Aaron Dobson and was down to two wide receivers in the second half - and also lost Amendola from the punt return team.

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