The Buffalo Bills rolled into Gillette Stadium on Monday and thoroughly embarrassed the New England Patriots, winning 38-9 in a game that probably could have been even more lopsided. The Bills did that thing that all elite teams do, which is score at the end of the first half and then on their first drive to begin the second half. That took a 17-9 game and turned it into a 31-9 laugher before the Patriots could do anything about it in the second half.
New England’s key players were all held in check, as the Patriots managed just 201 net yards while allowing 474 net yards to the Bills. One of those players we watched actually had a solid game, but the game script kept the Pats from more effectively using him.
Here’s how our opponents to watch fared on Monday night.
QB Cam Newton
Big yikes. I wrote that it wouldn’t surprise me if the Patriots turned to Jarrett Stidham this week, and that’s exactly what happened midway through the third quarter. Newton made one impressive play, eluding Mario Addison (who, it appears, was being held by left tackle Justin Herron) on his way to a nine-yard touchdown run. Newton’s second-best play of the night was a pass that hit wide receiver Damiere Byrd in the facemask on New England’s first drive. That throw came off a well-executed trick play, and had Byrd caught it, he would have walked into the end zone. Instead, it was just another incompletion on a night where Newton was just 5-of-10 for 34 yards. He also took two sacks and totaled 24 rushing yards and the aforementioned touchdown on four carries. It’s not like Stidham was better—the backup was 4-for-11 for 44 yards—so it seems pretty clear that the Patriots need a new quarterback heading into 2021.
RB Sony Michel
The third-year man ripped off some big runs early, as he handled seven carries for 61 yards on New England’s first three drives. After Buffalo scored a touchdown to make it 17-9, though, the Patriots inexplicably came out and threw it three straight times, leading to a quick three-and-out. Michel ended the game with ten carries for 69 yards, and while the game script certainly contributed to that, there were opportunities to give him more touches that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels passed up for some reason.
WR Jakobi Meyers
Meyers was targeted more than any New England wideout, as he was thrown to six times on the night. He made four catches for 45 yards to lead New England, including a 22-yard catch-and-run in the third quarter for Stidham’s first completion of the night. As has been the case for much of the year, though, New England’s passing game never did enough to sustain any sort of consistent threat. Meyers has some ability, and he’ll be a valuable piece for the Pats moving forward.
CB J.C. Jackson
Early on in the game, Jackson seemed to be doing a great job handling Stefon Diggs. He was right in Diggs’s shirt, sticking with him on the underneath routes Buffalo loves to hit, but he was also all over Diggs on a deep ball, as well. The Monday Night Football cameras caught Jackson and Diggs jawing at each other a bit, and Diggs pointed at his fellow Maryland Terrapin, seemingly telling Jackson that he would eventually beat him. Boy, was Diggs ever right. A 50-yard touchdown came when Diggs beat Jackson over the middle, then Diggs caught another touchdown in between two players, then Diggs beat Jackson in the back of the end zone for the hat trick. If Jackson’s job was to shut down the best wideout on the other team in Stephon Gilmore’s absence, Jackson failed, as Diggs caught nine passes for 145 yards and three touchdowns.
S Adrian Phillips
The veteran did his job well enough, coming up in run support and laying some big hits on wideouts and tight ends who came over the middle. All told, Phillips was second only to Jonathan Jones in tackles, as the veteran had seven combined tackles on the night. Phillips did not have any pass breakups, though, as Josh Allen and the Bills threw for well over 300 yards.