Patriots’ Season Collapses in Buffalo

photo/ Wikimedia Commons

photo/ Wikimedia Commons

Liam McDonough, Opinion Editor

As the New England Patriots headed into the postseason, they were hoping to forget about the previous month’s results and return to their mid-season form. After their Week 14 bye, the Patriots dropped three out of four games, with their only win coming against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars, who ended their season with two wins. Coming off their bye week, the Patriots stood at 9-4, good enough for first in the conference. There was a large sense of optimism surrounding the team, but that sense soon faded away after the Patriots lost to the Indianapolis Colts and their division rivals, the Buffalo Bills, which ultimately cost them another division title. In a game which could have served as a morale booster as they went into the playoffs, the Patriots fell to the Miami Dolphins—largely because they were unprepared—in their final game of the regular season.

The Patriots’ loss put them at sixth place in the American Football Conference (AFC), though good enough to secure a rematch with the Bills in Buffalo. Earlier in the year, the Patriots and Bills dueled in Buffalo in Week 13, resulting in a huge statement being made by New England. The Patriots’ defense was able to hold the Bills to 10 points, while also running consistently against the Bills due to high wind speeds that prevented quarterbacks Mac Jones and Josh Allen from throwing deep and accurately. If the regular season was any indication of the upcoming playoff matchup, football fans would’ve seen a classic back-and-forth contest.

The game, however, played out much differently than expected. From the opening kickoff, the Bills were able to pick the Patriots’ defense apart, whether it was on the ground or in the air. The Bills collectively rushed for 174 yards, with running back Devin Singletary leading the way with 81 yards. Josh Allen connected on 21 of his 25 pass attempts, while also throwing five touchdown passes. The Bills became the first team to put up a “perfect” offensive game, where all their drives ended in touchdowns, they never punted and they never turned the ball over. The Patriots’ defense was unable to gain any momentum from the start, letting up a touchdown every time Josh Allen and the Bills’ offense took the field. The Patriots’ offense had minimal impact in posting a mediocre performance and were unable to stop the nosebleed that was their defense.

With an early playoff exit, the Patriots now look ahead to a busy offseason. On the offensive side of the ball, the Patriots have solidified talent at quarterback and running back, but could use improvements in their offensive line and wide receiver core. The Patriots’ defense has established a strong secondary, but has a deteriorating pass rush and run defense that needs immediate help and development. While the Patriots already have a decent amount of talent, they will certainly need a lot more to compete with top tier teams in the league.