The Patriots are 4-0 and returned home with a hard-fought 16-10 win over the Bills in upstate New York. While they won’t get any style points for this one, a win is a win, and a division win on the road is always important.
At the quarter-point of the season the Patriots have a one-game lead over Buffalo and have already beaten all three teams in the division. They are also one of only three undefeated teams left. But this one wasn’t like any of the previous three wins, where they won in a cakewalk. This was one of those fingernails on the chalkboard kind of uncomfortable.
But first the good news. The defense continues its stellar play holding the Bills to just 10 points. The Bills had 200 net passing yards as the defense piled up five more sacks totaling 40 yards, and eight quarterback hits. They also intercepted four passes.
The front seven, despite missing Dont’a Hightower was very impressive again and today they were led by Kyle Van Noy, who was immense out on the field. Van Noy made eight tackles, including two for a loss, two sacks, and four QB hits. His final QB hit on Matt Barkley forced his pass to go straight up in the air and it was picked off by Jamie Collins to seal the victory.
J.C. Jackson also had quite a day, intercepting two passes and blocking a punt that was returned for a touchdown by Matthew Slater, his first in his NFL career. Devin McCourty had his fourth interception in as many games this season early in the game.
The defense had Josh Allen flummoxed badly in the first half, he was constantly trying to hit the homerun pass deep down the field that wasn’t there. His play was much to the chagrin on Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll, who was openly chastising him on the sideline after one interception.
But there were enough plays to give Bill Belichick plenty of fodder for the film room on Monday morning. On Frank Gore’s early 20-yard run, Ja’Whaun Bentley was in perfect position by overshot the gap and left the middle wide open, which the savvy veteran made them pay.
On Gore’s later 41-yard run, Jackson had a perfect opportunity to wrap up Gore after about a 2-3 yard gain. Instead, he tried to turn his shoulder and bump him down. He bounced off harmlessly and Gore quickly picked up steam and was off the races. Jackson also left his feet on a corner blitz, allowing Allen to easily sidestep him and hit Cole Beasley down inside the red zone.
However, overall the defense was outstanding again and was on the field an awful lot in the second half. Buffalo was just 2-13 on third down. The defense pulled out this win for the team today.
Now the not-so-good news… the offense was pretty much awful all day long. Give Buffalo’s defense a ton of credit, we stated in our pregame matchups that the Bills defense is legit. Their secondary is very good and they have a good front seven.
And once again, everything stems from the offensive line. Fans can clamor for the team to sit Sony Michel all they want, but until the offensive line begins getting a push up front, these issues will persist. The Bills front seven owned the line of scrimmage, far too often, as in the Jets game, they got zero push and frequently got pushed backward.
It isn’t just the tackles either it is the entire unit, including guards Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason. They are not off to a good start in 2019, and Dante Scarnecchia has some work to do with his group.
The Patriots running game had 74 yards on 23 carries which isn’t going to get it done. Now, Michel doesn’t seem to be hitting the line quickly enough, but that could be that there just isn’t anywhere for him to go. On the few times that they opened some holes he did seem to move much better.
Tom Brady had a pretty awful day as well, completing just 18-39 for 150 yards with no TDs and an interception. That one was a particularly bad decision. There was nowhere for him to throw and he tried to force into the corner of the end zone, where it was easily picked off by Matt Milano. It cost them points and gave Buffalo a huge lift in momentum.
Brady wasn’t helped by his wide receivers, who were mostly invisible and relegated to milk carton status. Josh Gordon, Phillip Dorsett, and Julian Edelman were targeted 23 times, they totaled nine catches for 86 yards. Dorsett, in particular, was having a rough afternoon. Targeted nine times he had two catches for 10 yards. That’s not helping your QB out…at all. Granted Edelman was far less than 100 percent.
The only bright spot in the passing game was James White who had eight catches for 57 yards. The offense generated 11 first downs….burn the tape.
And for the really not-so-good news, Stephen Gostkowski missed another extra point today…it is definitely in his head right now…oy vey.
And we can’t close without mentioning the injury that Josh Allen suffered, Bills fans and media were screaming that Jonathan Jones should have been ejected. First of all, Allen was still moving forward and trying to get the first down. What was Jones to do, let him pass? It was clear Jones turned his shoulder and attempted to tackle him short of the sticks. There was helmet-to-helmet contact, initiated by Allen. Watch the tape at full speed. It was unfortunate but Allen was hardly a “defenseless runner”. It is more sour grapes and something we’ve become very accustomed to around these parts.
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Posted Under: 2019 Patriots Regular season
Tags: Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Dont'a Hightower JC Jackson Jonathan Jones Josh Allen Julian Edelman Kyle Van Noy New England Patriots NFL Patriots Sony Michel Tom Brady