Patriots vs. Bills Recap: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

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It wasn't the most aesthetically pleasing football, but at the end of the day, it was yet another win for the New England Patriots last Sunday afternoon in Buffalo.  Let's take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly from that contest.

Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

The Good

Once again, the entire defense shined.  They bailed the offense out time after time.  Sure, they finally allowed an offensive touchdown, but they made Buffalo work for it; and if Josh Allen wasn't 6' 5", I'm not so sure Buffalo would've scored.  Here are a few things that stood out from the defense's performance:

Kyle Van Noy

Can we revisit how great of a trade this was?  The Patriots sent a 6th round pick to the Detroit Lions back in 2016 for Van Noy and a 7th round pick.  Van Noy got off to a slow start in New England, but he's turned into a key contributor on this team, and continued his playmaking last Sunday.

Van Noy was around the ball, and the quarterback, all afternoon.  He led the Pats with eight tackles, added two sacks and also forced two fumbles.  His pressure on Matt Barkley forced the game sealing interception as well.  The Patriots secondary received most of the attention leading into the season, but the linebacker play led by Jamie Collins and Van Noy has been stellar.

Interceptions

The secondary was once again outstanding on Sunday, racking up four interceptions.  Devin McCourty and J.C. Jackson in particular made a couple of great plays.

McCourty continued his INT streak early in this one, baiting Allen into throwing a deep ball that he jumped on.  Allen thought he had John Brown deep, but McCourty saw it coming the whole way.  Just a great play from the safety.  Jackson's second of his two interceptions came near the Bills sideline where he managed to come down with both feet inbounds, only to lose control of the ball, and then regain possession before falling out of bounds.  It was a remarkable play.

Belichick may not be able to draft defensive backs with much success, but he can certainly find the talent in the undrafted ones.  Jackson is the latest example.

The Bad


The Kicker 

At this point, it feels like Stephen Gostkowski's missed extra points are mental.  I don't know if he's still trying to figure things out with Jake Bailey, misses Ryan Allen too much, or is just thinking too much but something is there; but it only seems to be affecting his extra points.

Every missed PAT has been pushed wide right, and on Sunday, you saw him initially line up on the left hash mark, almost like he was anticipating pushing the kick right a bit, and he still missed.  That to me signaled that he's thinking too much.  Maybe it's more noticeable now that he has struggled, but I can't seem to remember him choosing to place the ball on the left hash for extra points in the past.

Now, the Patriots placed Gostkowski on injured reserve today.  When I first heard the news, I immediately thought he wasn't hurt and this was Belichick's way of giving him time to figure it out.  Turns out he's having hip surgery, and I have a feeling that his absence may make people appreciate him a little more.

The Ugly

Can I say everything else?  Aside from great defensive play, there wasn't much else to celebrate.  Here are some of the uglier things that stood out.

The Officiating
(Insert vomiting sound effect).  These guys were brutal on Sunday.  They called some touchy penalties, missed some blatant ones, and constantly put themselves on our television screens.  It got to the point where towards the end of the game, after every positive Patriots play, I couldn't enjoy it because I was anticipating a flag being thrown.  A game with little scoring that lasted nearly three and a half hours; the officiating was a big part of that.

Also, can we settle down on the Jonathan Jones hit on Josh Allen?  It was an unfortunate play but the folks calling it dirty and calling for Jones' ejection are delusional.  What Vontaze Burfict did to Jack Doyle, that was dirty.

Was it helmet to helmet?  100%.  That's why he was flagged.  There's no disputing that.  Was it unnecessary?  No.  If Jones doesn't come in and make a hit on Allen, he's converting that third down.  He ended up being a yard short.  Yes, Duron Harmon had Allen wrapped up, but he was still moving forward.  It's not like his forward progress had stopped.

The size difference between Allen and Jones also played a part.  You can see Allen lowering his head and bracing for the anticipated contact, and Jones turning his shoulder.  Jones celebrating while Allen was out cold on the field, not a good look; but I don't think he realized what happened.

Look, if Brady took that hit - which he wouldn't - but if he did, I'm sure Patriots fans would feel the same way Bills fans do; and I would tell them they are wrong.  This was an unfortunate play, but by no means was it dirty.

The Offense
Buffalo's defense deserves a ton of credit.  They were a top 5 defensive team last year, and are top 5 again this year.  I think people assume that because of the team's success against Buffalo during Brady's career, the Pats are just going to walk in and dominate.  In actuality, Brady has struggled against this Buffalo defense as of late (three TD's and five INT's in his last five games).

Receivers couldn't get open.  The line couldn't block.  The majority of Brady's throws were off target.  The play calling was questionable.  How'd you like that shot downfield to James White on 3rd and 7 in the game?  It was an overall abysmal performance from coaches to players.

I mean, what was that final drive?  The Bills had no timeouts left.  Sony Michel picked up nine yards on first down, and then another eight on second.  Great start.  Then, they inexplicably decided to run with him out of the shotgun and only managed to pick up three yards.  Still, at least the clock was running.  Then, McDaniels thought it was a good idea for back to back passes - despite the fact that Brady had connected on less than 50% of his attempts.

That's the type of offense you run against your buddies in Madden, not when you're trying to close out a game.

Can we stop with the widespread panic though?  It was one very bad game, against a very talented defense.  Are we just going to throw out the previous three games?  The ones in which Brady had 911 yards and seven TD's.  Sunday was frustrating and discouraging, but it was still only one game.  I stupidly decided to listen to sports radio this week, and I'm hearing calls from people saying this team can't win a championship with this offense.  The hot takes were out in full force.

Come back to me after this offense has a string of four or five games like this.  The more likely scenario is that they go into Washington on Sunday and light up the Redskins defense and then fans will do a 180.

Extremely Ugly

Tom Brady's Interception - Horrific decision.  Micah Hyde made a very nice play, but that was more about the poor decision by Brady.


Dan Fouts' color commentary - Next time I may just mute my television and watch the game in silence.



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Boston Sports Syndicate: Patriots vs. Bills Recap: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Patriots vs. Bills Recap: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
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