Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots' 37-31 win over the Buffalo Bills
Boy oh boy do I hate being right.
I knew that there was absolutely no way that the Patriots were going to blow the Bills out of the water yesterday; the teams always just play each other too tough and there was just too much confidence all over the place that the Pats were going to run away with this one for it to be anything other than an extremely close game that once again took ten years off my life and drenched my recliner right through to the floor. If New England had dropped that one, I'm not quite sure what would have happened to me.
It was all right there, too. Porous defense. Drops. Key penalties at terrible times. A 4th quarter collapse. A late drive with the chance to score and pull out the win. But at the end of the day, the Buffalo Bills are still the Buffalo Bills and they managed to throw away a game that they probably should have won. Patriots fans are once again left shaking their heads, cursing their defense, and grateful that the Patriots escaped with one at home.
On the plus side, I'm not nearly as upset with this win as I was with the win over the Jets; in that game, I thought that what we saw from the Patriots was pretty much what we were going to get from here on out. With this game, we saw a horrendous defensive performance coupled with good, but flawed, offensive production, which explains why this game was so close. Another 4th quarter stinker is cause for serious concern, but overall I'm going to file this game neatly into the "a win is a win" category and move on with my life.
Let's get to the notes while I'm still sane.
- The amount of jinxing stats they frontloaded for this one was mind boggling. Brady undefeated at home against the Bills. Jarius Byrd has never picked off Tom Brady. Pats are 9-3 after the bye. Bills haven't won a game when Ryan Fitzpatrick's beard is longer than half an inch. Drives me nuts.
- Pats came out in a base 4-3 with Dennard and Arrington at corner and McCourty and Gregory back deep. Bit on the playaction right away and gave up a sizable chunk of yards. That pretty much dictated the day.
- I'd make fun of Buffalo for being a little jumpy on that opening drive - but looking across the line at Chandler Jones, Vince Wilfork, and Kyle Love, I'd be jumpy too.
- Nice drop there, Bryan Scott. That's about the easiest pick you'll ever get.
- And that's one of the easiest touchdowns you'll ever get, Wes. Come on, buddy.
- Did Brandon Lloyd get some yards after the catch yesterday?
- Is "the sun was in my eyes" still a viable excuse at the NFL level?
- Pats opening drive: two dropped interceptions, one dropped touchdown. All of them were gimmes. Poop.
- Justin Francis starting to make his presence felt.
- Patriots looked fairly awful against the run yesterday. I'm hoping that it's just due to the skillset of Buffalo's backs as opposed to some kind of fundamental breakdown.
- "These penalties are really setting the Bills back." Thanks, Fouts. That's some quality insight.
- I don't think that there's any product out there that doesn't instantly sound manly when you have Sam Elliot doing the voiceover. Coors dark is an absolutely awful beer, but dammit if I didn't want some yesterday.
- There are few things in the NFL as simultaneously beautiful and terrifying as a Tom Brady touch pass. Just a soft, airy floater that lands right where you want it to. And as someone who eats a lot of wings, I know a thing or two about soft, airy floaters.
- A friend of mine called me yesterday morning to see if I found the idea of a 4 TE, 1 WR offense feasible. I was initially lukewarm on it, but after yesterday's game I wouldn't necessarily be opposed to seeing it.
- Danny Woodhead is a 3rd down machine. He's also apparently a touchdown machine, too. I always prefer our running backs to walk into the end zone untouched.
- I want to call Steve Gregory out for not being a little bit tougher as a hitter - but his last name is Gregory. I can't help but feel that if your last name is Gregory, you may have a lot going for you, but toughness isn't one of them.
- Dan Fouts drew on the many comparisons between Scott Chandler and Rob Gronkowski. Maybe it's just me, but I think any and all comparisons between those two stop at "over 6 feet tall" and "white."
- "What was up with that Fred Jackson sneer? You just scored a huge touchdown, buddy - cheer up.
- So Julian Edelman is a deep threat now?
- Buffalo couldn't even buy a defensive play that didn't result in a penalty in the first half yesterday.
- Is it bad that I'm at the point where I'm a little disappointed when Gronk only does a monster spike after he scores a touchdown?
- "I think he's actually trying to knock the air out of the ball. And he may actually succeed at some point!" Way to bring it back, Fouts. That was good.
- Speaking of Gronk - the world needs a new word to describe players like him. Meathead doesn't quite do it justice.
- The complete inability to wrap ballcariers up yesterday was a little worrying. There were a lot of Buffalo drives kept alive by a missed or failed tackle that resulted in yards.
- How can you let Ryan Fitzpatrick go 13 of 16 in the first half?
- And while I'm at it - how is Scott Chandler constantly without anyone within 5 yards of him?
- I got a really bad vibe right out of the gate coming out of the half when Brady's first throw was an incomplete pass to Welker. I was confused why they weren't committing to the run.
- Always a great sign when your quarterback gets sacked to knock the team out of field goal range and you lose your best offensive linemen all in one play.
- Don't for one second think that Julian Edelman consciously chose that haircut - he just immediately lost all that hair after getting reamed out by Tommy B.
- Hell really hath no fury like a Brady scorned. As much as I hate seeing him mad, as it means something bad just happened to the Patriots, it usually means good things are on the horizon - like another Danny Woodhead TD.
- Nothing quite like the touchdown, commercial, official review, commercial, extra point, commercial, kickoff, commercial stack to further cement football's legacy as the most fast-paced sport in the world.
- Quick anti-Giants side note: Eli Manning's game resembled his physical appearance yesterday. Why can't he play like that against the Patriots?
- I had no idea that CJ Spiller ran a 4.2 40.
- Just a quick reminder to the Foxboro faithful: you're allowed to get rowdy on other downs besides 3rd. Just throwing it out there - much like Fitzpatrick threw it out there pretty much at will yesterday.
- I'm actually amazed teams don't go for it on 4th down more often against this secondary, especially on 4th and less than 5.
- On the flip side, I'm equally as amazed that the Patriots don't go for it on 4th down more often, especially during games where a punt is basically just as good as a score for the opposing team.
- As far as I can tell, Sebastian Vollmer was in a one on one matchup with Mario Williams all day, and Williams got about as close to Tommy B yesterday as I did.
- New England punted once through the 4th quarter and the game was still well in reach for the Bills. You got a lot of work to do, Aqib Talib.
- Speaking of Talib, anyone who thinks that he is going to put on a Patriots jersey and then this defense will be significantly better because of him needs to just get that out of their heads right now. Talib is one player. There are more problems here than any one man can fix.
- I will say, though: I think we saw New England's best defensive performance and their worst defensive performance in back-to-back games. Just like we shouldn't be excited over the Rams game, we shouldn't be too despondent over this one. Somewhere in the middle of these past two games is probably where we can expect to land.
- Were there any negative rushing plays for Buffalo at all yesterday?
- And how many rushing plays did Buffalo have that should have been a negative play but ended up going for 10 or 15 yards?
- It became very, very obvious, right after Buffalo's first down following being pinned back inside their own five, that the Bills were going to score a touchdown on the drive and the Patriots were not going to be able to answer back with a touchdown on their following possession.
- On the plus side, at least that three and out after the Fred Jackson fumble took a full 19 seconds off the clock and gave the Bills the ball back with plenty of time.
- Seriously: it takes me longer to waddle to the bathroom after too much Taco Bell than it took for New England to give the ball back to the Bills there. Just the absolute worst case scenario.
- How many times are they going to say that the Pats have never lost to the Bills at Gillette? ESPECIALLY considering that it isn't even true?
- It took the Bills about one minute to get right back to where they would have been had Jackson not fumbled.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick gets the ball back, down 6, with two timeouts and the two minute warning. Who here was even remotely confident that the Pats were going to pull out a big defensive stop? And what does that say about this team's Super Bowl chances?
- DEVIN MCCOURTY! All-Star ballhwaking safety! I can breathe again. Good lord.
- The string of expletives that spewed forth from my mouth from about 8 minutes left in the game until about 4 minutes after McCourty iced the game may have set several world records and could also be partly responsible for the 60 degree weather today.
- Well...at least there weren't any 50 yard TD plays this time, right? Right? Eh? Anyone? Bueller?