With veteran quarterback Tom Brady struggling to find his mar, the New England Patriots defense stepped up and carried the team to a hard-earned 16-10 win over a tough Buffalo Bills side on Sunday at New Era Field. With the win, the Patriots took top spot in the AFC East with an unblemished 4-0 mark while handing the Bills (3-1) their first loss of the season. The Patriots defense picked off starting quarterback Josh Allen three times and backup Matt Barkley once while the special teams had a crucial role as well when it blocked a punt that Matthew Slater returned for his first career NFL touchdown.

“I felt like we played really good,” Kyle Van Noy said about the Patriots’ defense after the win, adding that it created a lot of turnovers that helped the win clinch another win in Buffalo. Linebacker Jamie Collins sealed the win when he picked off Barkley’s pass on third down near midfield before Brady ran out the clock to keep the Patriots’ unbeaten slate. “When Jamie picked that ball off, I thought, ‘Now we can get some rest,” Slater said. The Patriots, who entered the match as a 7-point favorite, failed to cover the spread for the second time this season.

Patriots defense stifles Allen

The Patriots’ defense also stifled the usually mobile Allen, who completed just 13 of 28 passes for 153 yards and no touchdown with three interceptions for a rating of 24.0.

However, the defense gave up its first touchdown of the season when Allen ran for a one-yard score in the third period. The Patriots defense also survived the absence of linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who was declared out before the game due to a shoulder injury. According to reports, Hightower was spotted doing pregame sprints but didn’t ass his pregame test.

Without Hightower, the defense played along just fine as JC Jackson tallied two picks while safety Devin McCourty and Collins had one interception each.

Bad outing for Brady

The Patriots notched the win despite a bad outing from Brady, who completed 18 of 39 passes (46.2 percent) for 150 yards, zero touchdowns and an interception in the red zone en route to a quarterback rating of 45.9, the worst rating that he’s had in his career.

Despite this, Brady improved his record against the Bills to 31-3, the most wins that he’s had against one team. After a disappointing start to the season, second-year rusher Sony Michel carried the ball 17 times for 63 yards, James White had eight receptions for 57 yards while Josh Gordon caught three passes for 46 yards for the Patriots. Julian Edelman, whose status was questionable before the game, had four catches for 30 yards. Devin McCourty also tied a team record after making his fourth straight game with an interception, joining Mike Haynes, who achieved the milestone back in 1976. According to Field Yates of ESPN, McCourty is the first player to tally a pick in each of the first four games of a season since Brian Russell did it with the Minnesota Vikings in 2003.