A friendly reminder that multiple statements can be true at the same time. For instance, statement one: “The Buffalo Bills’ defense has played better overall than the team’s offense in the last few weeks.” Now for statement two: “The Bills’ defense did not play well enough to win the game against the New England Patriots.” While I’ve personally defended the defense to a large degree in losses to the Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars, and a close game against the New York Giants, I want to keep things honest here.
The defense had plenty of opportunity to stop the Patriots at the end of the game. The reality was that arguably one of the worst offenses in the league faced unlikely odds going up against one of the best defenses in the NFL. Salt. Meet wounds. Let’s make it even worse.
This video is a bit longer than usual at about eight minutes. Each play of the series is covered by yours truly with an attempt not to dwell on the depressing details any longer than necessary.
On the first play of the drive, the Bills looked content to give up a small chunk of yards, which I think is a fine plan. If it works. Buffalo seemed unprepared for a screen pass to running back Rhamondre Stevenson. Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips missed a tackle that would have limited the gain.
Along the way to the end zone there were successes. Safety Jordan Poyer filled a gap to limit a Stevenson run to five yards (again, fine under the circumstances). Linebacker Tyrel Dodson covered up Stevenson and dropped him for a loss of three.
Unfortunately, my man Taron Johnson was then beat by tight end Hunter Henry cutting to the inside of the field for a gain of 14. Tyrel Dodson was beat in a similar way as Rhamondre Stevenson made a hard cut that Dodson couldn’t keep up with. In the video I highlight that quarterback Mac Jones saw it and made the easy decision.
Right after was a great throw by Jones to beat very tight coverage by cornerback Christian Benford — arguably illegally tight coverage as Benford was flagged on the play.
An incomplete pass to wide receiver Demario Douglas was the fault of an overthrow by Jones. Taron Johnson was beat for a second time on the drive as Douglas faked to the outside and made a hard cut inside.
The Patriots followed it up with a nearly identical play to tight end Mike Gesicki. Instead of a hard plant to fake out Johnson he used a stutter step... which also worked. In a very uncharacteristic performance, Johnson was repeatedly beat up by New England. This was the last time though as it was the game-winning touchdown.