Ten days after blowing out the Houston Texans on Thursday Night Football, the New England Patriots (3-1) found themselves on the receiving end of blowout of their own in a stunning loss to the Buffalo Bills. Having survived three weeks without Tom Brady and starting Jacoby Brissett for the second consecutive week, the Pats good fortune finally ran out and they fell to the visiting Bills.
New England Patriots Week Four Takeaways
No Brady (and no Garoppolo), Big Problem
For the last three weeks it seemed as if the Patriots would somehow, someway survive a Brady-less four game stretch. In fact, a lot of “experts” were saying that Brady succeeds because he was a ‘system quarterback’ due to how well Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett played. Those experts can be quiet now and reality has brought the Patriots back down to earth. Jacoby Brissett got exposed today as the rookie that he is. His final numbers (205 yards and no interceptions) don’t look technically bad on paper but what was evident in this game was just how confused the young quarterback was. Brissett missed wide open receivers, looked confused by the different looks that Buffalo’s defense presented him and coughed up the ball on one of the Pats few strong drives when he scrambled deep in Buffalo territory but did not go to the ground and took a hit causing him to fumble.
That’s not to say that the offensive struggles for the Patriots were solely about Brissett because, frankly, the entire offense stunk up the joint today in Foxboro. The offensive line was unable to protect Brissett (especially in the second half) as Jacoby took big hit after big hit by a Buffalo defense that did not let up. Receivers dropped passes on Jacoby and failed to help out the rookie. Rob Gronkowski was, yet again, a non factor completing just one catch. The running game, the strength of this team last week, failed the Patriots today with LeGarrette Blount totaling 54 yards on 13 carries for no touchdowns. The Patriots were rarely in Buffalo territory and the Bills were able to feast on their atrocious offense today. On the Patriots final drive, any sign of passion and fire had long since dissipated and it seemed as if the Pats were just trying to get out of this game.
Defense Starts Rocky, Finishes Flat
For the first three games of the year, the Patriots defense looked like they were a potentially dominating unit. Today Tyrod Taylor, the Bills offensive line, and LeSean McCoy exposed them. By halftime it was clear that the Bills had gassed the Patriots defense as they had already given up over 200 yards to the Bills offensive unit. Taylor looked poised with a mostly clean pocket and finished the day 27/39 for 246 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots defense would give up an additional 134 yards on the ground. Throughout the entire first half, the Patriots were having problems left and right tackling Bills receivers and rushers and were getting manhandled by the Bills offensive line. The only good thing to take away for the Pats defensive effort today is that while the defense gave up a touchdown early in the first quarter, they would not give up another one as the Bills would score their final nine points through the leg of kicker Dan Carpenter.
When it Rains it Pours
Seemingly nothing could go right for the Patriots today. The usually reliable Stephen Gostkowski? Well, he missed a field goal attempt that he usually makes. The Patriots reputation for being disciplined? Well, that eroded today. There were 15 accepted penalties in this game and the Patriots had nine of them for a total of 74 yards. The Bills also had some undisciplined moments (including before the game with a shove of Jacoby Brissett during pre-game warm ups) with their six accepted penalties for 60 yards. But, the officials did not have a good day either missing three blatant penalties committed by the Bills on the Patriots that hurt the Pats chances today.
The Patriots next take on the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland for Tom Brady’s first game back from his suspension. Tom Brady becomes officially eligible to play in less than 8 hours.