The Buffalo Bills failed nearly every scoring chance gifted to them and spoiled the golden opportunity gifted to them in the form of a terrible Tom Brady performance, en route to a 24-12 loss against the New England Patriots in Foxboro.
The Bills’ offense could not gain traction throughout much of the game. Josh Allen’s best passing opportunity was a deep ball down the right sideline in the first quarter, but even though Robert Foster had cleanly beaten Stephon Gilmore, he lost the ball in the sun and couldn’t catch it. A drive that started at midfield from a fumble recovery ended with a missed 43-yard field goal. The Bills, chasing a 14-point deficit at the end of the first half, passed on a field goal for a fourth-down conversion attempt, and failed. An interception, deep in Patriots’ territory, was followed by a three-and-out with a field goal instead of a touchdown. A 26-yard pass, the longest play of the day, ended with Jason Croom stripped at the six-yard line. The Bills had opportunities to score dozens of points, but they finished with a mere six.
Legendary coach Bill Belichick has never lost a game against a rookie quarterback, and Josh Allen was the latest victim. Allen struggled to accurately place passes and read the defense all day. He finished 20-of-41 passing for 217 yards (5.2 YPA) with a garbage-time touchdown and two bad interceptions.
The Buffalo Bills’ defense managed to hold Tom Brady in check again, something Sean McDermott’s handled since becoming head coach. Brady was intercepted twice, held to fewer than two touchdowns for the fourth consecutive game against the Bills, and finished 13-of-24 for 126 yards. But Brady was never the focal point of this game plan, facing Buffalo’s top-ranked passing defense. Instead, the Patriots went all-in with their rushing attack. They ran 47 times for a whopping 273 yards and two touchdowns. Rookie Sony Michel was the focal point, but Cordarrelle Patterson, James White, and Rex Burkhead completed the four-headed assault. Without Matt Milano or Taron Johnson, and losing Julian Stanford before halftime, the Bills had no answer to the attack, until they adjusted with a more conservative scheme in the second half.
On special teams, returner Victor Bolden Jr. had no errors in his first appearance with the team, but the kicking and punting was dreadful. Stephen Hauschka missed a 43-yard field goal that bounced off the bottom of the uprights. He also couldn’t kick an extra point because Matt Darr botched the hold. Darr had a horrible day punting. He managed a 55-yard punt, but shanked several others and only averaged 35 yards on the remaining punts.
With this loss, the Bills drop to 5-10 and a clear third place in the AFC East. The Patriots rise to 10-5, playoff-bound once again.
- Linebacker Julian Stanford left with an ankle injury and did not return to the game.
- Wideout Isaiah McKenzie left the game with a head injury but was cleared to return.
- Wide receiver Deonte Thompson rolled his ankle when a defender committed pass interference, and was unable to return to the game.
- Tom Brady’s 126 passing yards was his lowest since 12/28/2014, when he split half the game with rookie Jimmy Garoppollo in a 17-6 loss to the Kyle Orton-led Bills.
- By hitting 10 losses, the Buffalo Bills have guaranteed that Sean McDermott will have accumulated a losing career record at the end of his second coaching season.
- Robert Foster spent much of the game matched up with Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore. He didn’t wilt with the opportunity. Foster caught four of seven targets for 52 yards, and narrowly missed two potential touchdowns.
- Zay Jones was completely silent for three quarters, but finally connected with Allen when the game was out of reach. He finished with 67 yards and a touchdown.
- Jordan Poyer had another great day, with a sack, an interception, and seven tackles.
- The defensive MVP might have been Lorenzo Alexander. He was asked to cover Julian Edelman several times, but succeeded often, led the team with 15 tackles, and intercepted Brady.
- Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The running game was lousy. Keith Ford and LeSean McCoy combined for 42 yards on 13 carries. And 33 of those yards were Ford.
- As much as the Bills love having McCoy on the team, he’s rushed for 488 yards at 3.2 YPC in 13 games. Is he worth the cap hit for next year’s team?
- Special teams had another terrible day. Danny Crossman has to be gone in the off-season, right?