By: Russ Goldman
The Patriots had beaten the Bills 15 times in a row going back to the 2003 opener against the Bills. The streak unfortunately ended Sunday, as the Bills beat the Patriots 34-31 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The Patriots built up a lead of 21-0 in the first half. However, they would see that lead disappear completely in the second half, and ultimately costly mistakes would lead them down the road to defeat. A Rian Lindell 28 yard field goal in the last seconds of the game would propel the Bills to their victory.
This was a loss where turnovers were a huge factor in this game. Tom Brady threw 4 interceptions that took potential points off the board for the Patriots, but also led to several scores for the Bills.
However, you cannot overlook the play of the defense, as at times they were effective, but huge passing plays, and a lack of pass rush really hurt the team as well. This was a complete team defeat.
So what did we learn from watching the game on Sunday?
Not even Tom Brady can overcome a 4 INT game and still win. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
The first thing we learned is that even when Tom Brady has 4 interceptions, you are probably going to lose. Every quarterback is going to make mistakes including Brady. Maybe only 2 of the interceptions were really his fault, but regardless they are huge factors in wins and losses.
Peyton Manning has had 5 games in his history that he has thrown 4 or more interceptions. Each time the Colts lost. Just keep that in mind when you look back at the significance of that huge amount of turnovers.
The second thing we learned is the defense is ultimately not getting the job done right now. They put very little pressure on the quarterback, and the cornerbacks were lit up like Christmas trees. If you are going to play man to man in the defensive backfield, you do need some pressure on the quarterback. They do go hand in hand. The Patriots defense did not pass the test against the Bills.
The third thing we learned is that so far this season including yesterday, the Patriots front seven are playing a mostly conservative “read and react” defense with very little blitzing. Right now what we saw in the pre-season from the defense, I have not seen at all in this game, or any other in the regular season. This front seven defense is not aggressive whatsoever.
Ultimately though you have to give credit to the Buffalo Bills for coming back in this game, and finding a way to win. I think they took a step forward in their progression as a team.
On offense, Ryan Fitzpatrick was not perfect, but he made huge plays down the field when he needed to. He was 27-40 for 369 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Fred Jackson showed he is a complete back combining 161 yards of total offense. At times the Patriots contained him, but it was only a matter of time before he would take advantage of the Patriots defense.
On defense, I wasn’t impressed with Bills. The Patriots moved the ball at will on them. Brady had all day to throw the ball. Their saving grace though were some nice plays to cause turnovers. That is a step in the right direction, but this defense has a way to go.
For the Patriots offense, for huge parts of this game, they looked as impressive as ever. However, the mistakes killed them, and really were a huge factor in the loss on Sunday. Brady was 30-45 for 387 yards and 4 touchdowns. However, you cannot forget the 4 interceptions that Brady threw.
On defense, the Patriots once again gave up huge amounts of yardage. The Bills had 448 total net yards. That is not what you are looking for. The one positive is they were better on third down with a 36% conversion rate. Overall, this defense needs to get better if the Patriots want to go far this season.
As I always do, I like to look back at my keys to victory to see what kind of role they played in the game. Below is my analysis of ” My Five Keys To Victory For the Patriots Against The Bills.”
1.The Patriots need to contain Fred Jackson. Well the Patriots could not control Jackson, and in the final drive of the game his catch and run put the Bills on the one yard line to ultimately kick the winning field goal. The Patriots defense did a poor job on tackling Jackson as he would often extend plays for extra yardage. The Patriots definitely failed in this key.
2. Jerod Mayo needs to be very active in this game. Mayo had five tackles and played is usual efficient game. However, the coaches did not let him loose like I was suggesting. I did not see him often if at all shooting gaps, or getting after the quarterback in blitzes. When will the Patriots let Mayo attack?
3. It is time for Devin McCourty to become the shut-down corner once again. The only word to describe the play of McCourty has to be horrible. He looks like he has very little confidence right now, and the receiver is constantly one step ahead of him. At this point, McCourty is in a sophomore slump, and the Patriots need him to get out of it soon.
4. Rob Gronkowski needs another big day in the red-zone. Gronkowski was definitely a positive for the Patriots as he dominated play in the red-zone. He scored 2 touchdowns, and continued to show what a constant threat he is on the field in general. He overall had 7 receptions for 109 yards.
5.Who will pick up the slack for Aaron Hernandez being out? Chad Ochocinco did not have a good game, and made two costly mistakes. Apparently, it looks like he did not make a strong route on the interception that was under-cut by Leodis McKelvin. He also dropped a sure touchdown pass from Brady on the Patriots drive. If he scores there, the Patriots score earlier, and maybe there is more time for Brady for one final drive at the end of the game.
Julian Edelman only had one reception, and overall was a non-factor in the game. The Patriots receivers did not pick up the slack for the loss of Hernandez.
So what did we learn from this game? I think the offense will be fine, but turnovers can still really change a game. The defense still deserves much more time to make any real judgement on. However, right now we are not seeing any progress in this unit.
In the large picture of the season, it is only one loss, and I don’t see it as a trend. There is much more football to come and I predict we will forget about this loss very soon.
What are your reactions to the game? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you thought of the Patriots 34-31 loss to the Bills.