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Patriots vs. Bills: Fan Notes from the Game

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Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots’ 37-16 victory over the Buffalo Bills.

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Not gonna lie; Santa came kind of close to delivering Patriots Nation a big, fat, Mike Tolbert-sized lump of coal in everyone’s collective stocking as the Buffalo Bills made a real game of this one for two and a half quarters. However, the New England Patriots remembered that a) it was the holidays, and b) it was Buffalo at Gillette, and they turned it on when they needed to and walked away with a convincing 37-16 victory that wasn’t always pretty, but put the check mark in the correct column.

And to make things even better, Jimmy Garoppolo granted his old team a belated Festivus miracle to the tune of a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars to ensure that the Patriots were guaranteed a bye and get a much needed extra week off to continue resting players. If that isn’t decking the halls, I don’t know what is.

  • What an early Christmas gift Tony Romo calling a game is. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a color commentator as much as I enjoy him. I’d love to know what the other gamecallers out there think of him. I would like to think they’re supportive and encouraging...but to have a guy come in out of nowhere and just blow everyone else out of the water in his first year, that has to breed some jealousy.
  • I watched this game in CT with the folks for the first time this season, which means that yesterday’s game was my first exposure to the 2017 local Connecticut commercials. And if you aren’t from the area, allow me to introduce you to the wonder that is the Silas Deane Pawn Shop .
  • New England looked EXTREMELY slow out of the gate in this game, starting from the opening kickoff reception and through the first half. That’s all well and good when you’re playing the Bills, but that’s not gonna cut it in a few weeks.
  • Speaking of cutting it - I don’t know what it is they put in egg nog, but it took everything in my power not to give those benches you sit on in church a whole new definition of the term “pew.”
  • A non-Tyrod Taylor quarterback would likely have done a lot more damage to the Patriots. Taylor made some highly questionable decisions and overthrew the open man more than once. The gameplan seemed to revolve mostly around preventing Taylor from picking up too many yards with his legs (in which they were successful; Taylor had only 16 yards on three carries), but that left a lot of time for guys to get open deep.
  • These long, long, looong drives are absolutely brutal to watch between the 20s. What’s really annoying is that Buffalo’s first drive wasn’t even anything special. They just smartly attacked the Kyle Van Noy-less edge all afternoon, and there was absolutely nothing the Patriots could do about it. This is a massive, massive, massive problem.
  • Marquis Flowers as one of your more reliable coverage linebackers is also a massive, massive, massive problem.
  • I guess the good news about the Patriots defense giving up these 20 play, nine minute drives is that the game goes by very fast.
  • The downside - besides having to watch this defense - is that it leaves the NFL scrambling to fit commercials in wherever they can, which led to a glacial 2nd quarter.
  • That said - it’s impossible to ignore the fact that the defense didn’t surrender a single touchdown, so if the
  • The reason that the Patriots defense didn’t surrender a single touchdown was because, once again, they were on the beneficiary end of a catch controversy. Towards the end of the half, Kelvin Benjamin appeared to haul in an incredible TD grab, only to have the call reversed to an incomplete pass when another four minutes of replay showed that Benjamin didn’t have full possession when his left foot came down. Or something. I don’t know.
  • But I do just want to throw something out there: there’s a word the NFL tends to use, and that word is “Incontrovertible.” It’s an adjective, and it means “not able to be denied or disputed; not open to question.” Just making sure that the NFL keeps that in mind. The call on the field should have stood. If they initially ruled it incomplete, then that should have been the call. If you’re going to always default to the replay I don’t know why you even bother having refs on the field at all.
  • I hate all these catch calls as much as anybody else - but here’s the big plus. The Patriots have now benefitted from an oddly worded and convoluted rule twice now. The trickle-down effect of this is as follows:
  • The league will 100% be looking at this in the offseason to ensure that calls like that won’t go in New England’s favor in the future; and
  • Patriots haters get to keep thinking that the league favors the Patriots over other teams, which adds to the “New England hasn’t had a legitimate victory ever” narrative that they enjoy so much. Everybody wins!
  • Now, that said: if anyone wants to provide actual, numbers-based evidence that the Patriots get an inordinate number of calls in the favor in comparison to the rest of the NFL, then I’ll for sure listen. If you can show me the number of key penalties called across the league and show how New England gets more positive calls than anybody else, I’d be genuinely interested to see that breakdown. But if you’re just going to scream PATRIOTS CHEAT AND SO DO THE REFS! into the ether, then excuse me for not paying too much attention.
  • There’s a rule of thumb I follow in regards to medications advertised on TV that I suggest you all adopt as well: if one of the potential side-effects is “suicidal tendencies,” you’re probably better off finding alternative methods of healing.
  • I was absolutely stunned to learn that Mike Gillislee only had 28 yards on six carries, and his longest run was only 12 yards. I felt like he got more looks than that, and always seemed to go for about four. I guess it was hard to pay too much attention with Dion Lewis running wild all over the place.
  • Never thought I’d see a Jet sweep to a tight end. Good for Jacob Hollister.
  • I don’t know what it is about 4th down playcalls near the goal line when teams are playing the Patriots, but they have all been terrible this year. It must be Bill Belichick hijacking the headsets and calling in the wrong plays.
  • Tommy B wasn’t very accurate yesterday. I literally wrote that just as Brady threw a pick six. Dammit.
  • Brady has now thrown an INT in five straight games, the first time since 2002 that this has happened (in case you haven’t read that stat literally everywhere else. I think I saw it spraypainted on the side of the highway on my way to Christmas Eve mass). He has been very streaky as of late and I don’t know why.
  • Luckily, he has himself the greatest tight end in the game to bail him out. Holy Gronk what a one-handed Gronk that was. Gronk just Gronked at the line, Gronked in time for Brady to make the Gronk, and then came down with the Gronk for the Gronk. Wow.
  • And then, a Christmas miracle! A third down stop to follow it!
  • I will never, ever get tired of that ol’ Kevin Faulk direct snap.
  • On the flip side, I will never, ever not want to vomit every time I see some player’s leg twisted the opposite way as he lies on the ground in agony. Come back strong next year, Travaris.
  • And for the record - there’s no law that says you have to replay gruesome injuries in super slo-motion, CBS. Nobody wants to see that.
  • Of all the crappy DPI calls that take place around the NFL every season, the one on Brandin Cooks is the worst. Underthrown ball, receiver stops, defender collides with him. What is the guy supposed to do in that situation?
  • You know what hasn’t happened all year? A Patriots interception where a defender jumps the route/anticipates the play and becomes proactive. This is a very reactive defense.
  • The Kelvin Benjamin catch that kept the Bills on the field towards the end of the first half is exactly what gets Gronk flagged for OPI every single time.
  • My nephew Jack is three years old and a HUGE fan of the Incredible Hulk. He came into the room just before halftime and asked me if Hulk would be good at football. Can you imagine that guy coming in off the edge?
  • Unless he played for the Patriots, of course, in which case he’d probably spend the game overpursuing and missing the runner.
  • Why does Charles Clay only play well against the Patriots? It makes zero sense.
  • Thank Tebow the Bills decided to keep running Mike Tolbert once in a while instead of just shoving Shady down the defense’s throat nonstop.
  • For the record, Tolbert is 5’9”, 243 lbs. That’s a big dude.
  • Elandon Roberts may need to retire after what McCoy did to him in this game. McCoy had a 39 yard catch and run in which he juked Roberts out of his Santa hat as the capper to day in which he more or less worked Roberts up and down the field.
  • Kelvin Benjamin had himself a day, didn’t he?
  • Dion Lewis I love you. That is all.
  • His best play of the day, in my opinion, was the screen pass on 3rd and 11 that went in for a score and set the Pats up to put the game away. If it looked like it was easy for him, it was, seeing as how Shaq Mason pulled like a reindeer on a drunk Santa Claus with Nate Solder destroying folks left and right. Solder is dealing with some kind of illness, and yet he somehow pancakes guys. Whenever I’m sick, I can’t even finish regular pancakes.
  • I don’t think I like these string of Christmas Eve games we’ve been having as of late. I’m supposed to be relaxing at this time of year, not sweating through the couch.
  • Once the Patriots got up by two scores, the Bills were basically done. They aren’t built to come down from that kind of deficit, and when the Patriots start deliberately looking to give up long, sustained drives, that’s all she wrote.
  • Real talk: teams that win the Super Bowl are playing their best football late in the season. That isn’t opinion, it’s fact. Can anybody here honestly argue that the Patriots have been playing their best football over the past few weeks?
  • But that’s OK; they have a game against the Jets and a bye week to figure it out. And the return of some key guys to the field is going to go a long way.
  • Props to Nantz and Romo for waiting until late in the game to bring up the Alex Guerrero nonsense, whatever that was. I honestly have no clue what any of that is about and I couldn’t care less.
  • I consider myself a fairly even-keeled guy. With the exception of my self-diagnosed and well documented Patriots mania, I don’t get overly emotional. But every time I see the end of It’s A Wonderful Life on NBC every Christmas Eve, I turn into a blubbering mess and I don’t care who knows it. If there’s a more perfect moment in cinema history than when Jimmy Stewart winks to the sky as he says “atta boy, Clarence!”, I have yet to experience it.
  • And for the record, Donna Reed reigns supreme at the #1 spot in my holiday movie crush Power Rankings. Second is Ralphie’s mom from A Christmas Story, followed by Ellen Griswold.
  • One game left, at home, against the Jets. Ho ho freaking ho.

I hope that you and yours have a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday. No matter what you celebrate or how you celebrate it, make today great and tell those closest to you that you appreciate them. Just think how easily we could all be Browns fans.