The Buffalo Bills could not get any footing on offense, defense, or special teams Sunday. They were beaten soundly by a vulnerable New England Patriots team in all three phases. With one game left in the season, the coaching staff has a lot of evaluating to do as they enter Week 17.
Here are our five takeaways from the game:
Bills were out-coached
The Patriots kept attacking Buffalo’s inexperienced linebackers by keeping their heavy units on the field. They were able to run the ball down the Bills’ collective throats and influence the need for Lorenzo Alexander to cover Julian Edelman. On defense, the Patriots put Pro Bowler Stephon Gilmore on Robert Foster and then dared Josh Allen to pass the ball. He had opportunities but New England made the Bills make plays—and so many drops doomed the Bills.
Bills rushing defense remains a concern
After their second touchdown, the Patriots were averaging 8.4 yards per rush while Tom Brady was having a pedestrian day. New England had 179 yards rushing before halftime. With 20 minutes left in the game, New England already had passed the Indianapolis Colts for most rushing yards against the Bills in a game this season. With 273 yards on the ground, it was tied for the seventh-most allowed since 2000. Missed tackles, the defensive line not settling into their lanes, and sub-par linebacker play all led to the problem. In four games against New England, Sean McDermott’s defense has allowed more than 190 yards on the ground three times. They entered the game allowing only 105 yards per game but they have had some hiccups this year.
Josh Allen didn’t play well*
Bill Belichick* is pretty darn good at home against rookie quarterbacks. It was a story line going into this week, but it came true in spades. Belichick spied Allen with a cornerback and other defensive backs on multiple plays. They converted 9% of their third downs. Allen threw two picks and was 14-for-33 for just 148 yards. He had five rushes for 30 yards and was sacked a few times. Allen had several very good passes, for sure, and he was able to settle in more as the game wore on, but they couldn’t get anything going when it mattered.
Convert some freaking turnovers
The Bills forced three turnovers in Patriots territory and were only able to convert three points. The opening drive of the third quarter got the Bills on the board, down 14-3, but the Bills turned it over on downs in the second quarter and Stephen Hauschka bounced off the crossbar from 43 yards out in the first quarter. Not exactly how you defeat the Patriots.
Special teams (again)
Holy cow. That onside kick was pathetic. The Patriots blocked an extra point (kind of but not really). It was abysmal and it’s not the first time we’ve called for coordinator Danny Crossman to be fired. Let’s do it again anyway: Danny Crossman should be fired.
Send your questions to me for the Buffalo Rumblings Mailbag: 716-508-0405. It was a talk-able Bills game, for sure.