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Plays That Defined 2021: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills in a wind storm

[Various wind noises]

Welcome to Plays That Defined 2021! This ain’t your usual game recap. Here’s what to do. Pretend you’ve just written a novel and it’s time to select the cover art. You want a single picture that tells the reader what it’s all about, right? That’s the deal here. Vote for the play that best tells the “story” of this game. Which GIF is the best “cover art” for...

Week 13: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills

OOOOOOoooooOOOOoooooOOOOOOOOOO! WHOOOOOOOSH! Those are the sounds of the Buffalo Bills losing in embarrassing fashion to the New England Patriots. While the Bills were happy to run the ball more than put it in the air the week before against the New Orleans Saints, for some reason they went back to the air when the air itself was the worst enemy. Mac Jones was trusted to throw less passes than Joe Webb did in the now infamous “Snowvertime” game. Remember that Webb played less than two quarters. Josh Allen on the other hand chucked it 30 times. Only eight less than all the QBs in the Snowvertime game combined. That game almost used an entire OT period.

What I’m getting at is that maybe Brian Daboll’s game plan wasn’t the best one.

Damien Harris’s touchdown (Q1, 5:28)

A favorite narrative of the day was how the Patriots “ran all over” the Bills. This play is the major driver of that perception. This play represents 29% of New England’s rushing total for the day. That said, even fluke plays count and this fluke play early in the game was a major determining factor in the outcome.

Gabriel Davis’s touchdown (Q1, 2:07)

Maybe this is where everything went wrong. After three mostly futile drives, the Bills got lucky when a punt bounced back into their hands, putting the ball where you see it here. This one-play scoring drive may have convinced Buffalo that a pass-heavy strategy was just fine.

Mac Jones throws a pass (Q1, 1:23)

How better to show the lack of passing by the Patriots than Mac Jones’s best pass of the day. He completed two of three. This 12-yarder accounted for 63% of his yardage. It also went so well that it scared off New England from calling any more passes until the middle of the fourth quarter.

Rhamondre Stevenson’s run (Q2, 15:00)

Getting run all over is a favorite narrative, but one that’s mostly fiction. Rhamondre Stevenson was the feature back for the Patriots, taking over half the rushes for the entire team. Stevenson averaged 3.25 yards per carry. Damien Harris was efficient (even excluding the long TD), but only carried the ball ten times. Remember that the Pats basically ignored passing. Of nine drives total where New England would have looked to score, they had the fluke TD and two sustained drives that resulted in field goals. They also had four three-and-outs, a drive of four plays, and one of five plays. Buffalo’s defense was overall quite effective, though we’d all certainly have liked to see some improvement (see above).

Josh Allen’s incomplete pass (Q4, 2:00)

Josh Allen had a lot of incomplete passes in this game. I’d give the exact number, but I don’t want to remember it all that precisely myself. I chose the final one as it expertly shows that the Bills stuck with the passing game until the bitter end. The team’s final drive featured eight passes to three runs. One of the runs was a scramble by Allen.

Let’s get this vote done and move on to better game


Which play best defines (illustrates) the shameful loss to New England?

This poll is closed

  • 63%
    Damien Harris TD
    (132 votes)
  • 0%
    Gabriel Davis TD
    (2 votes)
  • 5%
    Mac Jones pass
    (11 votes)
  • 5%
    Rhamondre Stevenson run
    (11 votes)
  • 24%
    Josh Allen incomplete
    (51 votes)
207 votes total Vote Now