For the second straight week, the New England Patriots botched a two-minute drill in the final moments of the first half and left potential points on the field. But, after last week’s head scratchers came from the players, this week’s mistakes seemed to fall on the coaching staff.
Trailing Buffalo 17-7 with 1:20 remaining in the first half, Josh Uche dipped under left tackle David Quessenberry and strip sacked Josh Allen. The Patriots recovered and were set up at their own 42-yard line with two timeouts at their disposal.
In what was still a competitive game on the scoreboard, it was just the opportunity New England needed - especially knowing the high-powered Bills’ offense was set to receive the second half kickoff.
After a 14-yard run by Rhamondre Stevenson and nine-yard completion to Jakobi Meyers started the drive, the Patriots faced a second-and-one at the Buffalo 35. With 50 seconds remaining, they then dialed up a draw out of shotgun to Stevenson, which was poorly executed by the depleted offensive line and stopped for no gain.
The run concluded with 45 seconds remaining in the half, but Bill Belichick’s timeout did not come until an additional 11 seconds ran off the clock.
“Just making sure we had the situation there,” Belichick told reporters Friday morning. “Initially, it looked like we had a first down and then we didn’t. So, should’ve identified it quicker.
“We had to determine whether it was third down or first down. And so, there was a little bit of delay. Then, what was the play? Then we just thought it would be more efficient to take a timeout.”
What was that next play? A quarterback sneak on third-and-one which moved the chains, but forced New England to burn their final timeout.
“Yeah,” Belichick answered when asked if he was OK with that decision. “The thinking was to get a first down and try to score.”
With just 32 seconds remaining and no timeouts, New England was not able to take advantage of the fresh set of downs. Jones’ first pass was incomplete to DeVante Parker, before he found Hunter Henry on another quick passing concept for four yards (who got out of bounds). On third-down, pressure forced Jones into a throwaway.
After burning both timeouts to pick up one-yard and a first-down earlier in the drive, the Patriots only mustered four more yards of offense. As Nick Folk then came out to attempt a 48-yard field goal, he left it short as he ricocheted off the crossbar.
The sequence was just another example of poor situational football from the Patriots this season, and perhaps a reason Thursday night’s game was not closer down the stretch.