What an ass-kicking.
The Bills dominated the Patriots in every facet of the game Saturday night en route to a 47-17 win on Wild Card Weekend.
Going into the game all the talk was about the weather and how that would help the Patriots, but the game-time temperature of seven degrees with wind chills below zero did not hurt Buffalo in any way.
Josh Allen had another terrific performance against the Patriots and New England continued its trend of self-induced mistakes leading to a blowout loss. Allen finished 21-of-25 passing for 308 yards and five touchdowns, while adding 66 yards rushing.
Here are 10 quick thoughts on the game.
1. There’s no way around it, this was an embarrassing performance for the Patriots. Observing pregame warmups, it was an indication of what was coming. Despite the frigid temperatures, Buffalo came out with tons of energy and were dancing around all over the place. Meanwhile, the Patriots lacked energy and looked like they wanted to be back inside. This translated to the start of the game and it was over from there.
2. The Patriots deferred after winning the coin toss, and while many wanted them to take the ball, this did not change anything. The only thing it did was change the order of events. This feels like an excuse for the continued trend of getting off to bad starts. Taking away the Jacksonville game, the Patriots have been outscored 49-0 in the first quarter during their last four games.
3. Buffalo scored touchdowns on all four of its first half possessions. How bad was that? It was the first time in the Bill Belichick era where the Patriots allowed a touchdown on the first four drives of a game. Buffalo scored touchdowns on all seven of its meaningful possessions, not punting once. The 24-point halftime deficit tied the biggest for the Patriots under Belichick.
4. Even before the game got out of hand, the Patriots seemed to let Mac Jones throw more than usual. Jones was moving the ball on the first drive of the game before Micah Hyde made a terrific interception on a deep-ball thrown to the end zone. The rookie finished 23-for-37 with 232 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
5. It’s clear the Patriots lack speed on defense, as they were exposed at all three levels. This needs to be a priority this offseason and obviously that starts with adding some new players, but they may need to make some tough decisions with some of their veteran leaders on that side of the ball.
6. Speaking of the defense, this is the unit that is supposed to carry the team and make plays, but it will finish the season with forcing only four turnovers the last five games of their season, and that includes three against the Jaguars. Buffalo went 19 straight drives against the Patriots without punting dating back to the Monday night game in early December.
7. The uncharacteristic mistakes continued for the Patriots with bad penalties, including too many men in the huddle, and then more issues on special teams. It feels a lot of this falls on the coaching staff and some experienced additions may be needed this offseason.
8. Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson combined for just 57 yards rushing. Obviously, the score forced the Patriots into passing the ball, but this shows how important establishing the run has been for the team all year long. Buffalo's defense controlled the line of scrimmage, which is surprising based on what happened in the first meeting this year.
9. Kendrick Bourne (two touchdowns) has been a nice story for the team this season, showing he can have a role for the future. While he’s not a No. 1 receiver, he showed he can be a dependable No. 2-3 receiver and has the ability to make plays on jet-sweeps with his speed.
10. Much of the next few days will be discussing if this was a successful season or not for the Patriots. The fact of the matter is they made the playoffs with a rookie quarterback and improved on their 7-9 season from a year ago. It takes a few years to totally retool a team, and this was a solid first step. Still, there's a lot of work to be done to compete with the Bills, who are still well ahead of them.
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