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Patriots vs. Bills: Fan Notes from the Game

Related: Patriots vs Bills recap: New England gets blown out 38-9 at home

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Another game, another loss. Oh well. On to next week. Let’s just get right to it, as I have very little to say today.

  • There were three reasons why I was rooting very hard for the Patriots to win last night. First up, I will always, always root for a Patriots win (I also reserve the right to change my mind should the #1 overall pick in the draft be on the line). Two, it was a chance to play spoiler for Buffalo’s chances of clinching that #2 seed. And three, a loss last night did absolutely nothing to improve New England’s draft stock. So this loss doesn’t move the needle in the slightest there.
  • Of course, they didn’t win, because they’re an average-at-best team and the Bills are a very good team, and very good teams beat up on average teams. And based on last night, “average-at-best” is the most credit I can possibly give them, and it’s still a pretty big stretch.
  • In a game that was over before it really started, there are a lot of areas I could point to that represented the low point of the evening. But I think it honestly has to be the opening drive of the third quarter. Buffalo’s plays on that drive went as follows: 1st and 10, 1st and 10, 1st and 10, 2nd and 10, 3rd and 3, 1st and 10, 1st and 10, 1st and 10, with the last one resulting in a score. The last time I saw I drive like that I was playing Madden on rookie mode just for fun.
  • On the plus side...Cam Newton almost had himself a touchdown pass in the very first quarter! It’s a Festivus Miracle!
  • That double Cam pass was one that would have really rankled me had New England still been in the playoff hunt; would have liked to save that for the Chiefs. But since it’s not happening this year, I say rock on.
  • I should also be more upset about the Byrd drop that short-circuited the drive, as it was as bad a drop as you’ll ever see. But...meh.
  • New England, despite being so unbelievably bad offensively, always seems to be good for one solid drive per game. Their only touchdown drive over the past 12 quarters was exactly what they’ve done well all year — stretch runs, runs up the middle, some more runs, and what is arguably Cam Newton’s best play of the season when he avoided three sacks and rumbled into the end zone. It would have been a lot more awesome if I didn’t know for a fact that that was the last time we’d see them do anything all day.
  • I’m over the offensive ineptitude, and have been for some time. What does chap my ass, though, was that nobody bothered to cover the gunner on the fake punt that led to Buffalo’s first TD drive. Special teams was the one thing the Patriots were doing well this season.
  • I also don’t really have all that much more to say about the offense. Everything about the running game, from the line to the fullback to the backfield, is a bright spot. Sony Michel looks sharp and decisive since coming back from IR, and he and Harris could be the best RB tandem in the game next year if they both stick around. Everything else is a big, fat, steamy turd, and that has been the case all season.
  • Plus, seeing as how, as usual, the offense did absolutely nothing and the defense was on the field for most of the game, we may as well get into that.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but this defense came out of the box seeming to have more or less mailed it in. The offseason is right around the corner, just two meaningless home games left, and there’s no need to make the extra effort to chase down runners or worry about jumping offsides. With the exception of maybe Devin McCourty and J.C. Jackson, everyone on that field was already into college and just doing enough to get to graduation without getting kicked out of high school.
  • Once Cam scored that wild TD, though, they kind of woke up. They allowed Josh Allen to carve them up anyway, but at least they were fiery about it.
  • For once, having 75 defensive backs on the team paid off. I don’t think that the Patriots had a single healthy linebacker who could take the field as this game wound down, forcing them to go into a lot of nickel and dime packages.
  • Despite all these DBs on the field, they still gave up 344 yards passing and 4 TDs. I did, however, like the defensive strategy of letting guys get so wide open in the end zone that they choke and drop the ball.
  • I love JC Jackson and am very excited to his future with this team. But he got stuffed in a locker by Stephon Diggs last night and he’s just going to have to live with that,
  • Buffalo decided not to punt all game, which I respect. For one thing it shows confidence in the offense and a strong drive to win. For another, say they go for it on 4th down and don’t convert, giving the Patriots good field position. Is anybody worried that they’re actually going to capitalize on it and score?
  • Tell me if you’ve heard this before: nobody has any idea what necessitates helmet-to-helmet contact anymore. Jordan Poyer knocked himself out directly colliding with Cam Newton’s helmet late in the 2nd half and nobody so much as reached for the flag. Makes zero sense.
  • There was a point where the Patriots were averaging over nine yards per carry on the ground. They immediately came out with three straight throws. It’s going to help me sleep at night to tell myself they did that because they’re treating these last two weeks as a tryout for other players and they know what they have in the running game.
  • Of course Nick Folk missed the extra point at the end of a 90-yard drive that saw Cam Newton set a franchise QB rushing record with arguably his most impressive play of the entire year. Of course he did.
  • That TD also halted the touchdown-less quarter streak at nine. Nine straight quarters without crossing the goal line once. And Cam Newton has still thrown just four more TD passes than Jakobi Meyers and has equaled Tommy B’s 1st half TD passes against the Lions on Saturday.
  • It still blows my mind that there apparently isn’t enough advertising interest to fill up the grey “you’re watching ESPN commercial break” space. The only logical reason I can think for that existing is that each network allotted a certain number of minutes in between gameplay so everyone knows how to time the restart, but since there aren’t any takers for ad space, we just get to stare at a grey box for 20 or so seconds every break.
  • Keep in mind how awful the Bills were for the vast majority of a lot of your lifetimes, especially you younger readers. The Patriots absolutely stomped them up and down the field for 20 years. Literally — New England has been pinning Buffalo to the ground and forcing them to slap their own face while chanting “quit hitting yourself! Quit hitting yourself!” for two straight decades. They’re a fantastic and passionate fanbase and they deserve to gloat for once. Let them have their moment, we’ve had more than our fair share of ours.
  • That said, “Buffalo has a passionate fan base” may be right up there with “Ryan Fitzpatrick went to Harvard” and “Julian Edelman was a college quarterback” on the lazy commentating scale.
  • I’ll also say that, to every Bills fan who called the Patriots classy for continuing to throw it and run up the score in a blowout: it feels good, doesn’t it? If you don’t like it, stop it, right? No shame in stepping on the throat and keeping it there.
  • Still... in a year in which there was very little normalcy, the Buffalo Bills blowing the doors off the New England Patriots at Gillette in primetime might be the strangest thing that happened in 2020.
  • To be honest, I stopped watching this game towards the end of the third quarter, when Jarrett Stidham threw a pretty solid deep sideline pass for N’Keal Harry and Harry had no idea the ball was coming his way, nor did he have any idea where the ball is. I didn’t know who to blame for that one and didn’t have the energy to think about it, so I tuned out. What points could I possibly make, observations to be had, that I haven’t already said multiple times by now? I’m out of jokes, out of references, out of analysis that isn’t just some version of “we all know who the good players for next year are, so let’s just get through this.” So I went and joined the roommate on the couch in the living room and hung out with her while she finished watching The Wilds.
  • In another crappy game that left us with very little positives, I’ll end with this: I hope you all had as enjoyable a holiday as possible this past weekend and were able to celebrate with friends and family in some capacity. I’m sure it was a weird year in terms of your annual traditions, so hopefully you all got to keep at least some of them alive.
  • One of my annual traditions that’s never going to change, pandemic or not, is watching NBC’s annual airing of It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve, which never fails to turn me into a sobbing, blubbering mess by the end of it. However, without fail, it’s amazingly always a different time in the movie at which the waterworks start; whether it be the overall vibe of the night, my BAC at that particular moment, or what have you, I don’t think I’ve ever started crying over that movie at the same time.
  • This year’s winner: George Bailey, desperately sprinting to what he thinks is Bailey Park, finds only a cemetery. Resting in that cemetery is George’s little brother Harry, tragically drowned at eight years old. As George wipes the snow off the dates, and as Clarence tells him that “every man on that transport died. Harry wasn’t there to save them, because you weren’t there to save Harry,” the look of despair and guilt and shame and understanding on Jimmy Stewart’s face in that moment set me right off.
  • And as for the moment when I completely lost it and made a complete fool out of myself in front of my in-laws: as Ernie reads Sam Wainright’s telegram instructing his office to advance George up to $25,000 dollars (the equivalent of well over $300K today), George, momentarily overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from the people of Bedford Falls, closes his eyes and rests his forehead against the shoulder of his youngest daughter Zuzu, who doesn’t have a touch of temperature, knowing that he’s going to be OK. I almost broke down just typing that. What a movie

It’s almost over. JUst one to go, then we can mercifully take this season out behind the shed and end it.