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MORSE: Observations From the Patriots’ Week 18 Season Finale Loss to Buffalo Bills

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
4 weeks ago at 6:00 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

MORSE: Observations From the Patriots’ Week 18 Season Finale Loss to Buffalo BillsJan 8, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) prepares to throw a pass as New England Patriots defensive tackle Christian Barmore (90) closes in during the second quarter at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The tumultuous 2022 season comes to an end in Orchard Park.  I expected the Bills to come out on fire with all the hype about Damar Hamlin’s recovery.  They didn’t disappoint.  What was disappointing is that the Patriots gave up the opening kickoff return for a TD.   The Patriots were down their leading tackler Brenden Schooler (inactive) on Special Teams.  During the game, they lost two other contributors in Demarcus Mitchell and Jabrill Peppers.  I would have fired Patriots Special Teams coach Cam Achord immediately after the game.

I must admit that Mac Jones and the Offense played perhaps their best game of the year.  The Defense held Buffalo in check midway through the third quarter.

Next week I will do an analysis of the season but today will concentrate on the game itself.

These were some of my observations:

  • I didn’t like the officiating. They blew an obvious offside against the Bills on the 1st drive which changed what should have been 1st and 5 to 2nd and 17.  Later they missed two pass interference calls on the Bills which would have changed the game. One was matt Milano trailing the play and went through Meyers before the ball arrived.  They made an Offensive pass interference call on Hunter Henry and there was no extending his arms.  He ran upfield and the DB held him up.  Henry never extended his arms to create space.
  • DaVante Parker had his best game as a Patriot. He had 6 catches on 7 targets.  He also had two TDs.  The second against 1st round pick Kaiir Elam was a slightly underthrown 50/50 ball.  Where was that kind of play all year from Parker?
  • Nelson Agholor was a complete bust of a Free Agency signing. He was upheld downfield (should have been an illegal contact call) and never fought to get back into the play.  The result from a Mac Jones INT.  That was his only target of the day.
  • Jones had three Interceptions and only the one to Henry was his fault. Jones was 26 of 40 for 143 yards 3 TDs and 3 INTs.  He completed 65% of his passes.  Miami blitzed frequently, yet Jones was only sacked once.  Often Jones picked up the blitz and burned them on Parker’s 2nd   On one play, Jakobi Meyers didn’t read the same thing that Jones did and Miami blitzed.  Meyers should have been the hot receiver as the blitz was coming from his man.
  • If this was the last game for Devin McCourty, then he went out with style. He had his 35th career INT, a Fumble recovery, 3 pass breakups, one that broke up a TD, and 5 tackles.  McCourty stated, “I still enjoy football, but you’re not going to do it forever”.
  • Matt Slater looked like a player that had just played his last game. He will be automatically selected for the Patriots Hall of Fame and has a chance at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Christian Fauria made a great point in the post-game show stating that Bill Belichick will keep a veteran player around the team just for the leadership.   He would sign Slater to a vet minimum and he would come down with the Foxboro flu and be put on IR. This is just to have him around the team and work with the young players  I would offer him the Special Teams coordinator job right away.  I think Slater wants to stay in the area and be close to the community.
  • Rhamondre Stevenson with his 54 yards rushing pushed him over 1000 yards for the season. He is the 1st running back since 2017 to eclipse the 100-yard mark.  He also added 5 catches as well.
  • Damien Harris had a good game in what may be his last game as a Patriot. I thought his blitz pickup was excellent.
  • Kendrick Bourne was good again today. He had 4 catches in 5 targets (a pass he should have caught) for 45 yards.
  • Josh Allen didn’t have a great game. He was 26 of 40 for 243 yards, 3 TDs, and an INT.  His bomb to Stefon Diggs was beautiful.  Jones was on the right hash mark and threw it across the field and led Diggs perfectly.  Diggs did an out-and-up double move on Jonathan Jones who had an otherwise good day.
  • In my preview of the Bills, I had the Bills Kickoff Team as unranked. Nyheim Hines hadn’t returned enough Kickoffs to qualify.  I also mentioned that I thought Buffalo got the best of the Moss / Hines trade.  That was an understatement.
  • Patriots had 2nd worst DVOA in Special Teams
  • Matt Judon faded again this year in the second half of the season. Despite the team regulating his minutes, Judon faded at the end of the year.  I liked some of his plays and other I didn’t.  On one play, he holds the edge and drops Allen for a 6-yard loss.  In the same play earlier, he gets sucked in and leaves the edge open for a big run.

Bailey and Jones Suspended

In a strange turn of events, the team put both jake Bailey and Jack Jones on the Suspended /IR list.  This was retroactive to Dec 31st.  This means both players lose two paychecks.  Bailey, through his agent, has made it known that he is challenging the suspension with the Payers Union.  According to Mike Reiss, Bailey stated that he wasn’t ready to play when the Patriots’ medical team examined his x-rays and stated he should be ok to pay.  This has been going on for three weeks.  The punting and kickoff (2 TDs) have been putrid since he has been out.  It is Reiss’ understanding that Bailey won’t make some performance incentives.  That means his contract is not guaranteed for next year, making it more likely he will be cut.  Jack Jones was late to the rehab sessions several times for which he was fined in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement.  Finally, when Jack Jones missed a session altogether, he was suspended.  This might be the case that Bill Belichick is trying to re-establishing his dominance on the team.  I liked what I saw from Jack Jones, but Bill Belichick won’t put up with this.


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