Patriots-Bills Takeaways, Metrics: Trey Flowers, Stephon Gilmore Shine

Not to resort to Bill Belichick cliches, but the New England Patriots’ defense did its job against the Buffalo Bills on Monday night.
The Bills’ offense stinks. And the Patriots’ defense made them look appropriately bad. The Bills managed just two field goals in their 25-6 loss to the Patriots. The Bills averaged just 2.4 yards per carry, and while Derek Anderson threw for 290 yards, he managed just a 56.4 completion percentage with a 69.4 passer rating.
The Patriots’ defense played well. But they should have played well. So, we’ll make no overarching sweeping judgments based on Monday night’s performance.
Some players played exceptionally well, however. Let’s highlight those performances in this week’s takeaways and metrics. All stats via Pro Football Focus.
PASS RUSH
LB Kyle Van Noy: two sacks, QB hit, hurry
DE Trey Flowers: QB hit, two hurries
DE Adrian Clayborn: sack, hurry
LB Nicholas Grigsby: QB hit
LB Elandon Roberts: hurry
DT Lawrence Guy: hurry
FS Duron Harmon: hurry
— Van Noy had been held sackless through seven weeks then broke out in a big way despite receiving fewer pass-rush opportunities. In moving back from the edge to inside linebacker, Van Noy only rushed 13 times. That he brought pressure on 30.8 percent of those is mighty impressive.
— Flowers also batted a pass while pressuring Anderson. PFF graded him extremely well in pass rush.
— Among players with double-digit pass-rush opportunities, Deatrich Wise Jr., Adam Butler, Derek Rivers, Malcom Brown, Keionta Davis and Danny Shelton all didn’t record a single pressure.
PASS COVERAGE
LB Kyle Van Noy: four catches on four targets for 70 yards
CB Jason McCourty: 5-6, 57 yards, PBU
CB Stephon Gilmore: 2-7, 45 yards, two PBUs
CB JC Jackson: 2-4, 35 yards
CB Jonathan Jones: 2-2, 32 yards
SS Patrick Chung: 4-9, 28 yards, PBU
LB Elandon Roberts: 3-4, 28 yards, PBU
FS Devin McCourty: 2-2, 18 yards, INT
LB Nicholas Grigsby: 0-1
DE Trey Flowers: PBU
— Gilmore continued his impressive streak of performances Monday. Over the last five weeks, he’s allowed just eight catches on 25 targets for 96 yards. He has seven pass breakups during that stretch. He’s first in the NFL in cover snaps per reception, second in fewest yards per cover snap, 14th in cover snaps per target and first in pass rating allowed since Week 3.
— Gilmore also is now second in the NFL with 11 pass breakups on the season.
— Roberts’ pass breakup led to a punt. It was his second dropped interception in as many weeks, but it was a good play to get his hands on the ball.
— McCourty intercepted Anderson then returned the pick 84 yards for a touchdown. McCourty reached speeds of 22.05 mph. He’s the fastest clocked ball-carrier in the NFL this season.
— Chung had one of his better games in coverage this season.
RUN DEFENSE
DE Trey Flowers: five stops
DE Keionta Davis: two stops
LB Kyle Van Noy: two stops
DE John Simon: one stop
DT Malcom Brown: one stop
LB Nicholas Grigsby: one stop
LB Elandon Roberts: one stop
S Patrick Chung: one stop

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— Flowers was all over the place on run defense. He had two tackles for loss as part of his five stops.
— Davis and Grigsby also had tackles for loss.
— Chung had an impressive three-plays stretch where he allowed catches of 2 yards no gain then stopped running back LeSean McCoy for a 2-yard rush on third-and-8.
— McCoy rushed for 12 yards on his first carry, a wildcat play. He then 1 yard on his next 11 carries.
PASS ACCURACY
— Of Tom Brady’s 16 incompletions, three were thrown away, one was dropped and one was spiked.
— Brady was 2-of-5 for 48 yards on deep passes.
— Wide receiver Josh Gordon had the lone drop on the night.
PASS PROTECTION
RG Shaq Mason: five hurries
RT LaAdrian Waddle: sack, QB hit, two hurries
LT Trent Brown: sack, QB hit, two hurries
FB James Develin: hurry
LB Joe Thuney: hurry
TE Rob Gronkowski: hurry
— Center David Andrews, right guard Ted Karras and running back James White were spotless in pass protection.
— Mason hurt his calf to put Karras into the game. He didn’t return.
— The Patriots should be getting starting right tackle Marcus Cannon back next week from a concussion, which would push Waddle back into a backup role.
RUSHING ATTACK
— Kenjon Barner and James White each averaged 1 yard after contact.
— Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson forced one missed tackle.
— The Patriots’ offensive issues — just one touchdown all game — were caused by their anemic rushing attack. The Patriots clearly missed rookie running back Sony Michel, who was out with a knee injury. He returned to practice Friday. so there’s hope he could play Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers.
For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, go to ProFootballFocus.com.

Patriots Bracing For Change, Uncertainty Ahead Of NFL Trade Deadline

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — After putting the finishing touches on a 25-6 win over the Buffalo Bills on Monday night, the New England Patriots’ players were faced with a harsh reality:
In all likelihood, the 53-man roster the Patriots carried into Monday’s game will not remain intact through Tuesday.
Tuesday marks the NFL trade deadline, ahead of which New England annually is one of the league’s most active teams. The Patriots have made at least one trade shortly before the deadline in five of the last six seasons — including major blockbusters in each of the last two — and head coach Bill Belichick has said they’re more than willing to deal again this year.
Because of this, deadline day is a surreal and stressful experience for many in the New England locker room, even those who aren’t personally fearful of being shipped out of town.
“It’s always a weird moment, because any time, you could get a new teammate, which would cause somebody to get cut or somebody to get traded,” safety Duron Harmon said after Monday’s game. “So it’s a tough moment, but it’s part of the business. And I know just being here for as long as I’ve been here and other guys being here, you just understand it.

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The Patriots currently have needs at defensive end and linebacker, and they reportedly are in the market for a top-flight wide receiver, as well. Wideouts Demaryius Thomas and Golden Tate are on their radar, according to reports, as is ex-Pats linebacker Jamie Collins, who’s been with the Cleveland Browns since New England sent him away in a deadline stunner two years ago.
Other candidates to change teams Tuesday who could interest the Patriots include receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, linebackers Bruce Irvin and Deone Bucannon, tight end Jared Cook and safety Karl Joseph. Belichick and his staff are casting a wide net, with Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston reporting the Patriots have “spoken to virtually every team in the league and had conversations on more than two dozen players in play at a variety of positions.”
The Patriots have landed a slew of impact players in deadline deals, including Aqib Talib, Kyle Van Noy and Akeem Ayers. They’ve also parted ways with some high-profile players at this time of year, most notably Collins in 2016 and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in 2017.
“It’s the business part of the NFL,” Harmon said. “Everything is not always good, but you learn to roll with it and continue to move on.”
This year’s deadline is 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

Patriots Notes: Julian Edelman, James White Carry Sluggish Offense In Win Over Bills

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Some notes and nuggets from the New England Patriots’ 25-6 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Monday night at New Era Field:
— Though the final score line seemed to indicate a relatively comfortable Patriots win, this one was a slog for Tom Brady and the New England offense, which struggled on third down (5-for-14) and in the red zone (1-for-3) and didn’t find the end zone until the fourth quarter.
After punting on their opening possession, the Patriots had their next four drives stall on Buffalo’s 7, 22, 20 and 32-yard lines, forcing them to settle for four field-goal attempts. Stephen Gostkowski made the first three before missing the fourth — a 50-yarder — in the closing seconds of the first half.
“We were just moving it down the field, and we got in the red area, and we just couldn’t get the ball in the end zone,” quarterback Tom Brady said. “Just not enough positive plays down there. We had a couple opportunities that we just didn’t take advantage of. I think if we score those touchdowns, we feel a lot better.”
Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was held to three catches on eight targets for 43 yards in the win, echoed his quarterback.
“We’ve got to put some touchdowns up,” Gronkowski said. “Can’t just come away with field goals all day. It just comes down to execution — getting more open and giving Tom more room to throw the ball. (We’ve) just got to execute down there better for sure.”
The Patriots got another field goal from Gostkowski in the third quarter before finally putting together a touchdown drive early in the fourth. Brady completed key passes to Julian Edelman (26 yards on third-and-6), James White (9 yards on third-and-8) and Chris Hogan (20 yards to the Buffalo 1-yard line) before handing off to White for a 1-yard score.
Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, who started the game at running back in place of an injured Sony Michel, also ripped off a 22-yard run during the scoring march.
— One silver lining for the Patriots: They finished a game with zero turnovers for the first time this season.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t do that well in the red area,” Edelman said. “We actually did terrible. But we took care of the ball. We didn’t turn it over, which was good against a defense that gets the ball out.”
— Edelman and White were the Patriots’ most reliable offensive players in the victory.

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The former tallied nine catches on 10 targets for a game-high 104 yards in his best performance since returning from suspension in Week 5, and the latter continued to pile up numbers as a pass-catching back, finishing with 10 receptions on 13 targets for 79 yards to go along with his rushing touchdown.
“In tight games like this, somebody just has to find a way to make a play,” White said.
White’s stats this season are nothing short of fantastic. He has 55 catches for 459 yards and six touchdowns through eight games — leading the team in all three categories — is on pace for 110 receptions, which would be an NFL record for a running back.
“James is Mr. Do It Right,” Edelman said. “He’s accountable. You can trust him. He does his job. He’s a leader on this team. He goes out and performs like that every weekend. It’s been awesome to watch, and it’s been great to have.
— The Patriots’ defense, meanwhile, did a superb job of limiting Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy.
McCoy gained 12 yards on his first carry of the game, then totaled just 1 yard — yes, 1 yard — on his final 12 carries.
His final line: 12 carries, 13 yards. Woof.
“We couldn’t get him going,” Bills coach Sean McDermott acknowledged after the game.
— Patriots coach Bill Belichick opened his postgame news conference by saluting the Boston Red Sox, who had spent the previous 24 hours celebrating their World Series title.
“First of all, big congratulations to Dave (Dombrowski), Tony (LaRussa), Alex (Cora) and the Red Sox for a great season and a championship and just a fabulous year,” Belichick said. “They set the bar on top, and it was a good weekend for Boston.”

Kyle Van Noy Explodes For Big Game In New, Old Position For Patriots

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Kyle Van Noy has been bringing pressure for the New England Patriots all season, but he entered Week 8 sackless. That changed in a big way in the Patriots’ 25-6 win over the Buffalo Bills on Monday night.
Van Noy forced a turnover on his first sack of the season when he stripped Bills quarterback Derek Anderson late in the third quarter. Safety Patrick Chung scooped up the ball for the takeaway.
Van Noy recorded his second sack of the season after the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter.
“Felt good,” Van Noy said after the game. “Just knew it was coming. Put in a lot of film study, and everybody did their job. DBs did a good job holding up. Just luckily the ball came out and made a play.”
The Patriots have had trouble finishing pressures this season. They entered Week 8 31st in the NFL in sacks per game. Then they had three, including one by Adrian Clayborn, Monday night.
“I think it’s a little bit of everything,” Van Noy said. “I think it’s our tenacious style that we’re playing that we’ve been doing for the last couple weeks now. Sometimes the score hasn’t indicated that, been in tough situations, but we needed to do a better job of withstanding those, and we did that, holding them to field goals when we were put in tough situations. We did all right.”
The Patriots’ defense came up big Monday night, holding the Bills to two field goals and just 333 yards. The Bills gained just 46 yards on the ground for 2.4 yards per carry.

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Van Noy rushed the quarterback just 13 times, but he came away with the two sacks, a quarterback hit and a hurry. He was forced to move back to inside linebacker with Dont’a Hightower inactive because of a knee injury. Van Noy has mostly played outside linebacker on the line of scrimmage as an edge defender this season. He said the inside role requires more communication.
“Any time it’s hard to replace somebody like that,” Van Noy said. “A little rusty, but just get a little rhythm of the game and the flow of the game. It’s like riding a bicycle.”
And he had some help from Hightower on the sideline.
“Oh yeah,” Van Noy said. “He’s a beast.”
Van Noy wouldn’t disclose what Hightower told him on the sideline.
“I can’t tell you,” Van Noy said. “That’s a secret.”

Cordarrelle Patterson Steps Up At Running Back For Shorthanded Patriots

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — When the New England Patriots took the field Monday night, it became clear why they didn’t feel the need to add another running back in the wake of Sony Michel’s knee injury.
As it turns out, they already had one. He just usually plays a different position.
With Michel unavailable, wide receiver/kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson — not James White or Kenjon Barner — started at running back against the Buffalo Bills, lining up in an I-formation behind quarterback James White and fullback James Develin on New England’s first offensive play.
Patterson wasn’t just a decoy, either. He carried the ball a career-high 10 times in the Patriots’ 25-6 victory at New Era Field, leading all Patriots rushers with 38 yards.
“CP is a great athlete, and he does a great job with the ball in his hands, so we were able to get it to him a few times,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said after the game. “He’s done a great job in the return game and on some other plays that he had the chance to run it. It looked like he had a couple of solid runs out there. We’re a little light at the running back position, so we needed him to step up, and he did.”
The running back position isn’t entirely new for Patterson, who often lined up there for the Oakland Raiders last season. He’d never carried the ball more than three times in a game before Monday, though, and had tallied just seven rushing attempts over the first seven weeks of this season, with most of those coming on end arounds and jet sweeps.
The supremely confident playmaker embraced the position change, saying he hopes to play an even larger role in the running game next Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.
“I’ve been playing every position my entire life,” said Patterson, who returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown in last week’s win over the Chicago Bears. “So when my number’s called, I’ll be ready. (Offensive coordinator) Josh (McDaniels) did a hell of a job putting me back there. He trusted me. I had 10 carries (Monday night), so I’m thankful for that. Next week, I hope I get like 25 carries.”

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Patterson’s biggest run of the night came early in the fourth quarter. With the Patriots clinging to a 12-6 lead, he took a handoff from Brady, followed Develin’s lead block and took off down the right sideline for a 22-yard gain.
Three plays later, White plunged into the end zone from 1 yard out for the Patriots’ only offensive touchdown of the game.
“He’s a big, fast, strong guy,” White said. “When you give him a lane, he can go. That guy can do a lot of things on the football field. He’s a special player. He helped us out for sure.”

Part returner, part WR, part… RUNNING [email protected] making a difference out of the backfield tonight. #NEvsBUF
: ESPN #GoPats pic.twitter.com/cuCcCASSIm
— NFL (@NFL) October 30, 2018

Despite Patterson’s best efforts, the Patriots’ rushing attack as a whole struggled without Michel, who did not make the trip after injuring his knee against Chicago. New England finished with a season-low 76 rushing yards on 25 carries, with White averaging just 1.8 yards per carry on eight attempts and Barner rushing just twice for 4 yards.
White was his usual productive self in the passing game, though, racking up a team-high 10 catches on 13 targets for 79 yards in the win.

Devin McCourty Disproves Critics With Blazing Fast Patriots Pick-Six

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Fickle New England Patriots fans and pundits were ready to give up on safety Devin McCourty two short weeks ago.
After giving up four touchdowns in two weeks against the Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs in man coverage, he had “lost a step” in their eyes.
“Oh, he did?” linebacker Kyle Van Noy asked Monday night after the Patriots toppled the Bills 25-6 in Buffalo. “Who said that?”
Not me.
“OK, I was about to say you’re an idiot,” Van Noy said.
That’s because McCourty was clocked at 22.05 mph on an 84-yard pick-six Monday night. He’s now the fastest clocked ball-carrier in the NFL this season, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.

[email protected] | #NEvsBUF | #GoPats pic.twitter.com/sdklTG23UX
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 30, 2018

“You see those high knees?” Van Noy asked. “He had perfect form. I mean, what a ballplayer he is. I think a lot of people don’t understand what he does for a team, his leadership on and off the field. And just as a player, his being able to do so much and take on so much volume that’s thrown at him is pretty insane. To be able to have a player like that and a leader like that, I’m humbled to play with him. I hope he gets that (Patriots Hall of Fame) red coat. I call him Red Coat all the time. He deserves it.”
McCourty has now put together two stellar performances in a row. He let up two catches for 18 yards with the interception Monday night. Last week, he was targeted just once and didn’t allow a catch.

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“I guess I gained a step back tonight,” McCourty said. “That was just cool because once I got back to the sideline, all the guys were all over it, telling me about it. I’m not really worried about me losing a step, just go out there and play. Today I got to showcase a little bit of the speed. So, 31, hopefully, I can hold on to my speed a little bit longer.”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said McCourty “looked fast to me” and that “Devin can run.” Safety Duron Harmon was a bit more expansive.
“As soon as something doesn’t go perfect up here, then people are always going to say, ‘Oh, he lost a step. He’s slow,’” Harmon said. “People who said Dev has lost a step obviously haven’t really been watching the tape. Each and every week, he’s running down somebody, and he’s usually looking like the fastest man on the field. So, they can take that.”
McCourty’s twin, Jason, is convinced he was running even faster than 22.05 mph as he sprinted to celebrate with his brother.
“I want to see what they got my time because I was chasing him to celebrate so I might have been 22 point something,” Jason McCourty said. “I want to get our strength coach Moses (Cabrera) and find out what I was running on that.”
Devin engaged in the friendly banter between brothers.
“I highly doubt it,” he said. “We’ll check. Moses will have that for us tomorrow.”
Then Jason got serious.
“If I wasn’t behind him, then I might have beat him into the end zone, but man, that was a huge play,” he said. “At that point in the game, to get a pick and then to take it a distance, I think that’s what we rely on him for. Obviously, some of the games, giving up some plays then he’s just been steady. Continuing to be a leader, hasn’t flinched, hasn’t got down on himself. Just continued to work, continued to push everybody, so for him to make that play obviously I’m excited for him, but the whole team, that’s what we expect out of him in the game like that in prime time, so that was a huge, I think, dagger for them.”
After Devin scored, he made Jason take his spot on the kickoff team. Harmon said that was Devin throwing his weight around as the older brother (by 27 minutes).

Bill Belichick Dismisses Report On Josh Gordon Discipline After Patriots Beat Bills

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Those in attendance at Monday night’s New England Patriots-Buffalo Bills game were surprised to see Josh Gordon trot onto the field for the Patriots’ first offensive snap.
NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport had reported hours before kickoff that Gordon would be benched for New England’s first few series as punishment for tardiness this week. That punishment never was handed down, however.
Gordon started the game and played 64 of a possible 76 offensive snaps — second-most among Patriots wide receivers behind Julian Edelman — in the Patriots’ 25-6 victory at New Era Field.
Asked about the report after the game, Patriots coach Bill Belichick replied: “You’d have to ask whoever wrote that. I have no idea.”

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Gordon, who finished with four catches on six targets for 42 yards, also had little to say on the matter.
“That’s going to be a question you have to ask Coach about,” he said in his postgame news conference. “But as it relates to the game, I was available, so that’s a plus.”
He later added: “I’ve got to check on everything. I’m not too sure about what’s out there myself. I couldn’t even give you an answer.”
Gordon has played in five games since being traded to the Patriots from the Cleveland Browns in mid-September, catching 17 passes for 266 yards and one touchdown.

Watch Devin McCourty Seal Patriots’ Win Vs. Bills With 85-Yard Pick Six

The New England Patriots didn’t put on their best showing Monday against the Buffalo Bills, but it was capped in exciting fashion.
With just over six minutes to play and the Pats ahead 18-6, Bills quarterback Derek Anderson tried to throw a pass into the middle of the field. Patriots safety Devin McCourty was a step ahead, however, picking the pass off at the 25-yard line and running it all the way back, burning a few would-be tacklers in the process.
Take a look:

HOUSE CALL

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Devin McCourty takes an INT back 85 YARDS! #NEvsBUF
: ESPN #GoPats pic.twitter.com/cO8BbMW4OA
— NFL (@NFL) October 30, 2018

The touchdown proved to be the final scoring either side would do for the remainder of the game as New England climbed to 6-2 after eight weeks of action.

Who Helped Patriots Most In Slightly Sluggish Blowout Win Over Bills?

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — We expected the New England Patriots to annihilate the Buffalo Bills on Monday night. Hands up. We were wrong, even if the score indicates we were, in fact, right.
The Patriots beat the Bills 25-6, but for much of the game, it was a grind for New England’s offense. The Patriots had no semblance of a rushing attack, and quarterback Tom Brady was having trouble finding consistency as he went 29-of-45 for 324 yards.
The Patriots’ defense won this one for the team with two big turnovers forced by safety Devin McCourty and linebacker Kyle Van Noy.
Here’s who helped the Patriots most:
FS DEVIN MCCOURTY
McCourty delivered the dagger with an 84-yard pick six. He jumped a route, snagged the ball out of the air and went untouched as he raced for the end zone.

[email protected] | #NEvsBUF | #GoPats pic.twitter.com/sdklTG23UX
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 30, 2018

So much for McCourty losing a step this season.

Devin McCourty reached a top speed of 22.05 MPH on his 84-yard INT return TD, the fastest speed reached by a ball carrier this season.
McCourty is the first ball carrier this season to reach 22+ MPH.#NEvsBUF #GoPats pic.twitter.com/lwWE5o8U4W
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) October 30, 2018

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LB KYLE VAN NOY
Van Noy recorded his first sack of the season, and it was a biggie. He strip-sacked Bills quarterback Derek Anderson and the ball was recovered by safety Patrick Chung.

Watch out for @KVN_03.#NEvsBUF | #GoPats pic.twitter.com/mZ9L47f7aK
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 30, 2018

Van Noy had eight tackles and two sacks on the game. He typically plays on the edge, but was forced into duty at inside linebacker with Dont’a Hightower inactive with a knee injury. He had a stellar performance.
DE TREY FLOWERS
Flowers was a disruptive presence on the edge, recording two 3-yard tackles for loss, a batted pass and two quarterback hits. He helped the Patriots let up just 2.6 yards per carry to the Bills.

@iii_flowers | #NEvsBUF | #GoPats pic.twitter.com/OTORYCn1gJ
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 30, 2018

WR JULIAN EDELMAN
Edelman had his best game of the season. He caught nine passes on 10 targets for 104 yards and carried the ball twice for 13 yards. The Patriots were taking anything they could get out of the ground game with Sony Michel out.
SS PATRICK CHUNG
Chung recovered Van Noy’s strip sack and was dominant in pass coverage. He allowed just three catches on seven targets for 10 yards with a pass breakup. He also provided a run stuff, stopping running back LeSean McCoy for just a 2-yard gain on third-and-8.
RB JAMES WHITE
The Touchdown Machine got on the board again Monday night with a 1-yard rushing touchdown. He couldn’t get much going on the ground, carrying the ball eight times for 15 yards, but he caught 10 passes on 13 targets for 79 yards.
CB STEPHON GILMORE
Gilmore allowed a 40-yard catch to Kelvin Benjamin in the second quarter (through some possible help of a push off), but otherwise locked down the field. He let up two catches on six targets for 45 yards with two pass breakups while following Benjamin around the field. Gilmore now has 11 pass breakups on the season.

Red Sox President Sam Kennedy Has Extremely High Praise For 2018 Squad

After landing back in Boston following the World Series victory, Boston Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy exclaimed that this team will go down as the “greatest Red Sox team in history.”
Kennedy’s lofty praise isn’t without warrant, as this team did set the record for most wins in team history, sent five players to the All-Star game and feature Most Valuable Player and Cy Young candidates in Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez and Chris Sale.

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The Sox have featured many historic teams, but Kennedy may very well be right.
To hear what Kennedy had to say, check out the video above from “NESN Sports Today,” presented by People’s United Bank.