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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — A few thoughts on the New England Patriots‘ 37-22 victory Sunday over the Buffalo Bills:

What it means: The Patriots showed exceptional mental toughness. Every step of the way teaches us about this football team, and what we learned Sunday about the 2014 Patriots is that from the coaching staff to the sideline, this is a group with a steely resolve. They had key players dropping like flies, were coming into a supercharged environment in which the Bills were celebrating the first game for new owners Terry and Kim Pegula, and they stood up to the physical and mental test.

Mayo likely lost for extended time with knee injury: This game cost the Patriots significantly personnel-wise. Defensive captain and signal-caller Jerod Mayo, the team’s “glue” linebacker, was carted off in the second quarter with what was announced as a knee injury. The severity of the injury was reflected in the fact that Bill Belichick came off the sideline to see Mayo, and players from both teams came over to him before he was carted off. Similar to last year, the Patriots don’t have a replacement for Mayo; it will have to be a committee-type approach. He’s that valuable.

Other injuries to monitor: In addition to Mayo, the Patriots also lost running back Stevan Ridley (knee) in the third quarter and guard Dan Connolly (head injury, presumably a concussion) in the second quarter, with both players not returning. Ridley was visibly upset on the sideline, bowing his head between his legs as players came over to console him.

Game ball: Tom Brady. There were a lot of good choices, but this was a vintage performance, capped off by a touchdown drive after the Bills closed to 30-22 and the defense looked cooked. No turnovers …read more