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Bills pass rush came to play vs. Tom Brady

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Buffalo’s ability to pressure Brady was impressive

New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

When the Buffalo Bills (6-6) were mired in a three-game losing streak, the lack of a pass rush was a major reason for the defense’s slide, as opposing quarterbacks had all day to find open receivers downfield.

The Bills took one step forward in the pass rushing department during the 16-10 road win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 12. While the Bills suffered another in a long line of disappointing losses to the New England Patriots in Week 13, at least defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier’s unit did a decent job applying pressure to surefire Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady.

During Sunday’s 23-3 setback to the Patriots, the Bills managed to sack Brady three times for a loss of 14 yards. Buffalo’s front four generated a sack on 9.09% of New England’s passing plays, the seventh-highest mark during Week 13. Buffalo’s ability to generate pressure on Brady was one reason why Brady struggled in the passing game in the first half.

Brady was held out of the end zone on all four first-half drives, as Buffalo became the first defense this year to hold the Patriots to 13 or fewer points in a half. Brady did not throw a touchdown pass in the win, just the third time in 30 career starts against Buffalo that he was held without a passing touchdown. It was also the third time in his career against Buffalo that Brady threw more interceptions (one) than touchdowns (zero).

Shaq Lawson, Adolphus Washington, and Kyle Williams each managed to bring down Brady, and the Bills managed to hit him five times on the day. Washington enjoyed arguably the best game of his brief NFL career, logging six tackles (four solo stops) with one sack and 2.5 tackles for a loss.

Despite the recent pass rush success, Buffalo is still 30th in the NFL with 20 sacks, tied with the Indianapolis Colts and ahead of only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (17 sacks) for the most inept pass rush in the league.

Last season, the Bills generated a sack on 7.09% of all their passing-down plays, good for the 4th-highest rate in the league. This season, Buffalo only has sacks on 4.44% of drop-backs by opposing quarterbacks, which is 31st. The net drop of 2.65% is the largest such reduction of sack percentage in the league this season.