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Patriots vs. Bills stats: New England’s defense gets exposed, and other takeaways from the wild card playoffs

Related: Instant analysis from Patriots’ 47-17 playoff loss to Bills

New England Patriots Vs. Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The New England Patriots’ season came to a crushing end in the wild card playoff round on Saturday. Visiting the Buffalo Bills for a third matchup this season, the AFC East bout was a no-contest for much of the night: the home team jumped to a 27-0 lead by the second quarter, and never looked back.

New England was eliminated with a final score of 47-17, the worst playoff loss of the Bill Belichick era. Let’s take a look at some of the early statistics to come out of the contest to see where the Patriots struggled.

Hint: it’s almost everywhere.

Patriots vs. Bills: Team statistics

Team statistics

Stat Patriots Bills
Stat Patriots Bills
First downs 20 29
Third down 7-14 (50%) 6-7 (85.7%)
Fourth down 4-4 (100%) 0-0 (0%)
Total net yards 305 482
Net rushing yards 89 174
Net passing yards 216 308
Penalties 5-34 3-47
Turnovers 2 0
Red zone 2-2 (100%) 6-6 (100%)
Goal-to-go 2-2 (100%) 3-3 (100%)
Time of possession 28:35 31:25

The Patriots did not stand a chance against Buffalo, and the numbers reflect it. The Bills held significant advantages in almost every category in all three phases of the game.

Three numbers still stand out: third downs, yards per play and turnovers.

New England forced its opponent in only seven third down situations throughout the game, with the Bills converting all but one of them. The lone non-conversion came on the final play of the day, when backup quarterback Mitchell Trubisky simply kneeled out the contest.

Buffalo also was able to gain 8.9 yards per play compared to the Patriots’ 5.0. That difference is massive. and a key reason why the team was in manageable down-and-distance situations throughout the game.

Finally, the Patriots lost the turnover battle again and now came up on the wrong end of it in four of their last five games. It is no coincidence that those four games all resulted in losses: New England has been reliant on taking the ball away, and the defense’s inability to do that proved itself a major issue against a quality opponent such as Buffalo.

Patriots individual statistics

Passing statistics

Player Attempts Completions Completion rate Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Sacks Rating EPA/Play
Player Attempts Completions Completion rate Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Sacks Rating EPA/Play
Mac Jones 38 24 63.2% 232 2 2 3-16 75.8 0.17

Mac Jones’ final stat-line may not be overly impressive, but the rookie fared comparatively well in his first playoff game. In fact, he posted the highest EPA per play number for a first-year quarterback since the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson back in 2012.

His two interceptions obviously hurt — especially the one that ended the team’s first possession while in scoring range — but Jones was one of the better players for the Patriots on Saturday night. That is obviously not saying much considering how the team as a whole performed.

Rushing statistics

Player Carries Yards Average Touchdowns EPA/Play
Player Carries Yards Average Touchdowns EPA/Play
Damien Harris 9 30 3.3 0 -0.26
Rhamondre Stevenson 8 27 3.4 0 0.08
Mac Jones 2 18 9.0 0 N/A
Kendrick Bourne 1 14 14.0 0 0.87

In the previous two games against the Bills, the Patriots were able to find considerable success on the ground. They ran the ball a combined 71 times for 379 yards, for four touchdowns and an average of 5.3 yards per carry in Weeks 13 and 16 combined.

At a first glance, they moved the ball well again versus Buffalo on Saturday — gaining 4.5 yards on 20 rushing plays. However, both Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson were effectively contained by the Bills defense: they combined to gain just 57 of New England’s 89 rushing yards on the day.

Receiving statistics

Player Targets Receptions Yards Average Touchdowns EPA/Play
Player Targets Receptions Yards Average Touchdowns EPA/Play
Jakobi Meyers 9 6 40 6.7 0 0.19
Kendrick Bourne 8 7 77 11.0 2 1.48
Brandon Bolden 6 4 27 6.8 0 -0.08
Rhamondre Stevenson 4 4 33 8.3 0 0.54
Hunter Henry 4 1 30 30.0 0 -0.92
Nelson Agholor 2 1 18 18.0 0 -0.12
Damien Harris 1 1 7 7.0 0 0.42
Jakob Johnson 1 0 0 0.0 0 -0.46

Kendrick Bourne was arguably New England’s best player on Saturday, ending the game with seven receptions for 77 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The other receivers, meanwhile, had a tougher time: Hunter Henry was limited to one catch on four targets; Nelson Agholor saw two passes thrown his way — one an 18-yard completion the other an interception; N’Keal Harry was not involved whatsoever.

Front seven statistics

Player Tackles Sacks QB hits Interceptions Passes defensed Forced fumbles Recovered fumbles
Player Tackles Sacks QB hits Interceptions Passes defensed Forced fumbles Recovered fumbles
Lawrence Guy 4 0 0 0 1 0 0
Dont'a Hightower 3 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kyle Van Noy 3 0 0 0 0 0 0
Deatrich Wise Jr. 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ja'Whaun Bentley 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
Christian Barmore 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
Matthew Judon 1 0 1 0 0 0 0
Jamie Collins Sr. 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Davon Godchaux 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Daniel Ekuale 1 0 0 0 0 0 0

The Patriots’ front seven had a rough outing. Actually, that does not look drastic enough.

The Patriots’ front seven had a ROUGH outing.

The group was unable to sack Bills quarterback Josh Allen even once, on multiple occasions allowing him to break contain and bye extra time in the pocket or take off as a runner. No less of an issue was the run defense as a whole: not counting three kneel-downs to end the game, the unit surrendered 176 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries for an average of 6.8 yards per attempt.

That does not cut it, especially in the playoffs.

Secondary statistics

Player Tackles Sacks QB hits Interceptions Passes defensed Forced fumbles Recovered fumbles
Player Tackles Sacks QB hits Interceptions Passes defensed Forced fumbles Recovered fumbles
Devin McCourty 8 0 0 0 0 0 0
J.C. Jackson 6 0 0 0 0 0 0
Adrian Phillips 6 0 0 0 0 0 0
Joejuan Williams 5 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kyle Dugger 4 0 0 0 0 0 0
Myles Bryant 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
D'Angelo Ross 1 0 0 0 0 0 0

All you need to know about the performance of the Patriots secondary is this: Josh Allen threw more touchdowns (5) than incompletions (4).

New England missing starting cornerback Jalen Mills, who remains on the Covid-19 reserve list, obviously did not help. However, the Bills were able to take advantage of every defensive back the Patriots threw at them — backup or regular starter.

Kicking statistics

Player Field goals Extra points Punts Gross punt average Net punt average Blocked kicks
Player Field goals Extra points Punts Gross punt average Net punt average Blocked kicks
Nick Folk 1-1 1-1 0 0.0 0.0 0
Jake Bailey 0-0 0-0 3 47.3 29.3 0

Nick Folk made both of his kicks. Jake Bailey and the punt team, on the other hand, gave up a 52-yard punt return in the fourth quarter. The game was already out of reach at that point, but that play still has the potential to be the final nail in the coffin for special teams coordinator Cam Achord.

Return game statistics

Player Tackles Punt returns Punt return average Punt return touchdowns Kickoff returns Kickoff return average Kickoff return touchdowns
Player Tackles Punt returns Punt return average Punt return touchdowns Kickoff returns Kickoff return average Kickoff return touchdowns
Matthew Slater 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
Gunner Olszewski 1 0 0.0 0 5 20.6 0
Brandon King 1 0 0 0 0 0 0

The Patriots were able to block two extra points on Saturday, but those play were the only special teams highlights for the team. Buffalo also neutralized former All-Pro punt returner Gunner Olszewski by just not punting.