Written By Shannon MacDevine
The Patriots move to 4 and 0 after their shaky 16 to 10 win against the Buffalo Bills today. While New England maintains their winning streak, this week showed some signs of struggle that are concerning for Pats Nation.
Once again Tom Brady and Co have outwitted the opponent on the road. Unfortunately, there were some raised brows at how the team performed; especially where the offense was concerned.
QB Tom Brady struggled to move the ball downfield, but he was not the only player to struggle. For the first time this season, Brady did not have a hand in a touchdown. With 39 pass attempts and 18 completions for a total of 150 yards, things did not look good. This was even more apparent when Brady threw an interception during the second quarter originally intended for Edleman
For the majority of the game, Brady definitely felt the pressure and spent a lot of time throwing the ball away. This is in large part due to the Bill’s defense which anticipated almost every play the Pats offense had up their sleeve.
It was not only Brady who struggled, though. The rushing and passing game also suffered under the Bill’s defense strategy. Gordon caught the longest pass of the day with a 31-yard reception. White and Edleman seemed to be the only other two receivers on the field with an unimpressive 8 receptions for 57 yards for White and 4 receptions for 30 yards for Edleman.
The rushing game was not any better. Sony Michele had one decent rush with a 15-yard run and a grand total of 63 yards for the entire 4 quarters. Dorsett, who had the next best rushing game, came in with a total of 9 yards. It was perhaps Bolden, who could be considered the offensive VIP of the day with 4 whole yards rushing, had the only offensive TD of the game for the Pat’s.
While the Bill’s defense definitely gave the Pats a run for their money, the lackluster performance can also be attributed to the number of injuries the Patriots are dealing with. Edleman, Bennett, Burkhead, and LaCosse were all on the questionable list for today’s game with various injuries.
To add insult to the offense, Gostkowski missed yet another extra point after Bolden’s TD. Though he later made up for it with a 23-yard field goal, it is no wonder the team is starting to lose trust in his abilities. This was most apparent when Brady and the offense went for it on a 4th down; though it was not necessary at the time.
While the offense struggled to find their rhythm today, the defense danced around the Bills offense. With 5 sacks (two from Van Noy alone) 2 interceptions from Jackson and an interception apiece for McCourty and Collins the defense was looking as good as ever.
It was also the Pat’s defense that caused the Bill’s QB to leave the game with a possible concussion. In the second half, Bill’s quarterback Allen, and Patriots cornerback Jones, connected helmet to helmet leaving Allen (what looked to be) unconscious. Though he walked off the field after several moments, he was not allowed to return to the game due to concussion protocol.
On a brighter note, Matthew Slater scored the first touch down of his career. As the Bills punted the ball, it was blocked by Jackson and recovered by Slater who then ran it in for a TD. It was due to this touchdown that gave the Patriots their victory. Without this special team’s score, the final may have looked more like 9 to 10.
Obviously, there needs to be some major improvement from the Patriot’s offense moving forward. With only 11 first downs; compared to the 23 the Bill’s accomplished, there is no time to wait. There was also an exceptional amount of penalties for both teams. The Pat’s racked up a shocking 8 flags for a total of 58 yards while the bills tied us with 8 flags as well but had us beat at 76 yards.
To leave things off on a good note, the Patriots have had a rather easy schedule up until now. Playing the Bills in Buffalo today may have been the fuel and motivation they need to keep on top of their craft. Though today’s win may have been tough, there is a lot more season for the Pat’s than just this one game.
Until next week.