The New England Patriots lost to the Buffalo Bills. It’s a surprise to some, it’s not a surprise to others. And although there were divisional implications for this one, I’m completely fine with this loss, as I have been fine with every single loss this season.
But for those of you whose muscle memory kicked in as of late and you instinctively reverted to the “if we don’t with a Super Bowl this season everything we’ve done is a total and abject failure and they should fire Bill Belichick and burn the entire stadium to the ground” mentality that has been par for the course of the past, say, 20+ years, you may be a little despondent today. But fear not; I’m here to help. Here are five positives we can all take away from this loss.
As expected. It’s amazing how quickly expectations can change for Patriots fans. From 2-4 and thinking about how this team is doomed, to a seven game winning streak and making plans for hosting the AFC Championship Game, to the last two games against more complete teams and landing where they should land, in that second tier in the AFC below the legit contenders. That’s completely fine with me, to be honest; I said a long time ago wins and losses this year aren’t nearly as important to me as consistent development and regular, positive strides forward, and we’ve had that in spades in 2021. If you’d told me earlier this year that New England beat Buffalo on the road, and then took Buffalo down to the wire in a game in which they could have clinched the division, I would have been thrilled with that. And based on what we’ve seen from this squad this year, I’m still pretty stoked for what’s to come in the coming seasons.
They were still right in it. Even with all the errors, New England still could have pulled this game out. They’ve been able to hang with pretty much every playoff team in the league, and if a few extra plays had gone their way, I think they pull this one off.
Costly mistakes. Some absolutely brutal penalties ended up giving Buffalo extra possessions, keeping drives alive, and killing New England drives. Whether it was drops from receivers or completely preventable flags, you just can’t do that against one of the best teams in the conference. If you want to talk about the officiating in this one, I certainly can’t stop you, but this one isn’t on the refs. It’s on the Patriots and completely preventable mistakes. That they didn’t force a single punt all game didn’t help things either.
Patriots have been overachieving. As someone who knows all there is to know about underachieving, I can appreciate it when someone overachieves. And that’s what New England has been doing this season. The real problem with overachieving is that you come back down to earth eventually, and that has been the case since the bye week.
Pats will still make the playoffs. Which was what we were all hoping for at the start of the season anyway. New England is still incredibly well positioned to make the postseason, at which point who knows what can happen. It’s actually pretty amazing that I’m sitting here talking about an incredibly high playoff probability as some kind of sad consolation prize on a quarterback’s rookie season. It’s not remotely amazing that there are still some Patriots fans out there who won’t be happy with this season and are still harnessing absurd expectations because we’re just the absolute worst. But as teams like the Lions and Browns and Jaguars and Texans and Jets and Giants lay awake at night dreaming about playing just one postseason game, here some Pats fans are all rankled because they’ll be a Wild Card team and not the division winners. Said it before and I’ll say it again: we’re the worst.