New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick didn't mince words following his team's ugly wild-card loss to the Buffalo Bills last Saturday. He simply told reporters that they couldn't keep up with their "well-coached" divisional rival, which scored 47 points and became the first NFL team in the Super Bowl era to score a touchdown on each of its first seven drives of a playoff game.
This was no ordinary loss for the Patriots under Belichick. The 47 points were the most ever allowed by a team of his during the playoffs, and the 30-point margin of defeat was the third-highest in franchise history. From the opening kickoff, the Patriots were non-competitive, and the result came as a shock to former NFL safety and current SiriusXM NFL analyst Solomon Wilcots.
"I got the sense that, after the Micah Hyde interception, it was as if the rest of this team wasn't interested in playing the way a Patriots team normally plays," Wilcots told The DA Show on Friday. "It sort of broke their spirits. This is what happens now when, even good teams, are having to rely on a quarterback -- a rookie quarterback, in this case. It got to a point where, I don't think they believed Mac Jones was going to deliver.
"And at that point, you could see the arrow begin to point down. That's what was surprising for me. It goes to show you the quarterback position is very important for the other 52 guys. They get to a point where, they don't think that guy can get you out of it, the dam is going to break... The confidence of the Patriots broke, and I never saw that happen to a Bill Belichick-led team."
Mac Jones, who was selected 15th overall by the Patriots in the 2021 draft, showed clear signs of a franchise quarterback during the regular season, as he led all qualified rookies in completions, passing yards, and touchdowns. Although he shouldered the blame for their wild-card loss, he wasn't given a chance to climb out of an early hole. Overall, Jones racked up 232 yards with a pair of touchdowns and interceptions -- stats that don't tell the entire story.
As for the Bills, their quarterback was flawless. Josh Allen completed 21 of 25 passes for 308 yards with five touchdowns, and became the very first signal-caller to have a playoff game with 300-plus passing yards, five-plus passing scores, and 60-plus rushing yards. With the blowout victory, Buffalo will visit the reigning AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round.
The entire NFL conversation between Wilcots and DA can be accessed in the audio player above.