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Patriots vs. Bills: Fan Notes from the Game

Related: Patriots vs Bills recap: 24-21 loss drops New England to 2-5 on the season

New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

Hey, remember the last time the Patriots lost five games in a season? It took the entire year. So good for the 2020 Patriots for shattering old records and defying expectations.

New England has now lost four straight and sit five games back in the AFC East.For all intents and purposes, this loss more or less locks this in as a lost season in terms of playoff hopes. The Patriots can of course go on a run, and with the expanded playoff bracket there are for sure to be some 8-8/9-7 teams in there...but the disparity between this Patriots team and the better teams in the AFC is large enough that there’s just no way they’re going to go on a major run. Oh well.

  • Speaking of runs...this squad simply can’t stop it. New England has given up 522 yards on the ground in the last three games, and Bills RBs were averaging six freaking yards per carry. When you see a 10 play, 78 yard scoring drive on the stat sheet, which is what the Bills did on their first possession you think there would be at least one chunk play through the air in there, but the vast majority of those yards came on the ground.
  • Never before has it been more obvious that the Patriots just don’t have any linebackers. Their all star LB opted out of the season, they lost/traded away their other guys, and Ja’Whaun Bentley just looks outmatched out there. Bentley is sort of a Chris Hogan equivalent of a linebacker - solid player, key part of a corps, but if you’re relying on him to make the bulk of the plays, you’re in for a long day.
  • You know it’s bad when your team couldn’t stop the runs even with an economy-sized barrel of Pepto Bismol and you’re still trotting out one LB and six defensive backs as your primary formation.
  • Which is as good a time as any to talk about what was probably New England’s best signing of the season in Adrian Phillips. The man is 5’11”, 205 lbs, and being asked to do what his predecessors Kyle Van Noy, Ted Johnson, and Roman Phifer used to use all of their 250+ lbs to do. And for the most part, he’s delivering. New England used him to plug stretch gaps, move laterally, and prevent the big gains to the outside that gave them such fits against San Francisco. He’s just not a linebacker and not built like one, so there’s only so much he can do.
  • Yes, the Patriots were without their best corner. And yes, they were missing two receivers. But the Bills were banged up as well. Everyone is banged up right now, and every team is dealing with this bizarre season. There really aren’t any excuses.
  • Perhaps what’s most frustrating about this is that, in spite of the struggles in so many areas, there were also some flashes of brilliance on this squad. New England scored on two of their four second half possessions, and would likely have scored a walk-off TD had Newton not fumbled. Jakobi Meyers had one of his best days as a pro. The vast majority of Damien Harris’s 101 rushing yards came on decisive, one-cut bursts through holes generated by excellent offensive line play. However, that brilliance was offset by the kind of mental lapses you just don’t see on Belichick-run squads. Delay of game penalties. Holding calls by players who weren’t even in on the play. Big gains called back because of flags. A decision to try an onside kick out of nowhere right as the Patriots had forced a 3 and out and then generated some real momentum by tying the game. There just seems to be foggy brains at every level of this team.
  • The number of Zoom-related commercials these days has me wondering if one of the great joys of any childhood - The Snow Day - is going to become a thing of the past. Will schools just go to Zoom that day if there’s too much snow on the ground? Will a whole generation of kids never know the simple joy of waking up in the morning, learning that you don’t have to go to school, and going back to bed, already dreaming of all the ways you’re going to ambush that jerk Ben Moore who lives down the street from you?
  • I’m still optimistic about the long-term future of this team. I think they have some good pieces in place and they aren’t as bad as they have played in the past or as their record indicates. Make no mistake, they aren’t good... but it’s also important to keep in mind that the Patriots are a Cam Newton fumble, a goal line stand, and an incomplete pass away from potentially being 5-2 right now.
  • But you know what? They aren’t 5-2. Those things didn’t happen. And good for Buffalo. I’ve always liked the Bills, and the writing has been on the wall for a few seasons now that they were the most likely candidates to replace the Patriots as the best team in the AFC East when New England’s run of dominance finally came to an end. We’re seeing that now, and it’s nice to see. Bills Mafia deserves it.
  • For those of you who’d like to see the Patriots Tank for Trevor, I’d kindly advise you to pump the brakes there. Not only are the odds of the Patriots getting the first overall pick pretty slim - they’re not the worst team in the NFL by a longshot - even if New England did have that pick Bill Belichick would just trade it that for 12 second round picks and select six DBs, five safeties, and a place kicker anyway.

The worst team in the NFL is the Jets, whom the Patriots are playing next week. There’s no way they’ll lose that one.