The Patriots lost their third consecutive game against Buffalo in a 24-10 loss that ultimately wasn’t competitive on either side of the ball. Here are the takeaways from the game as the Patriots prepare for Arizona.
Third Downs Are A Problem… On Both Sides Of The Ball
The Patriots finally did force that punt, and multiple others. But for the most part, when it was time to get off the field on defense, or stay on the field on offense, the Patriots weren’t able to get it done. On the defensive end of things, the Patriots forced plenty of third downs – which was an improvement on their last meeting where the Bills got 29 first downs off just SIX third downs.
However, when it came time to get them off the field, they didn’t do it enough. The Bills were 9-15 from third down, and whether it was a freak shovel pass, an almost sack turned into a crazy touchdown, the defense couldn’t read Allen when it mattered the most.
On the other hand, the Patriots were a miserable 3-12 from third down, and just couldn’t get it done in obvious passing situations (more on the offensive line soon). The play calling didn’t match the situation, and these struggles stopped even promising drives. Because of these struggles on both sides, the Bills dominated the time of possession, having the ball for almost 64% of the game, which tired out the defense over time.
The Offensive Line Is Still A Mess
Mac Jones only took the one sack during the game, but he was hit four times, and pressured a lot more than that. Luckily, his quick release kept the Patriots out of even more trouble, but it also constrained the ability for the Patriots to construct more sophisticated and deeper plays. Mac Jones had a mere 4.9 yards per attempt, many of which game from his touchdown to Marcus Jones, and the Patriots only had three score-worthy drives, one of them resulting in a missed Nick Folk FG.
Luckily, Rhamondre Stevenson still had a great game, and had 5.4 yards per carry in a pretty good game, but most of his yards came after contact, and the line did him no favors. The Patriots have always had issues at tackle, but with Isaiah Wynn and Marcus Cannon injured, it was even worse. Connor McDermott didn’t hold his own, and on the opposite side, Trent Brown’s struggles continued.
The interior of the line was pretty solid, especially with David Andrews starting, but when both edges are struggling, not much can be done in terms of protection. It’s hard to say if this is a problem that can be fixed this year, but better offensive line coaching (the line hasn’t been great since Scarnecchia’s departure) and some acquisitions at right tackle would help tremendously, whether it’s in the draft or free agency.
The Defense Can Keep The Team In Games Against The Best
Don’t let the margin fool you – considering the offense that they played, the Patriots defense performed admirably. They forced a turnover and came close to a second on a dropped interception. The Patriots actually only allowed 4.9 yards per play (having 4.7 themselves), the only issue was that the Bills made the right plays at the right time.
However, they were able to get pressure in the backfield, sacked Allen twice, neutralized the run game, and ultimately only allowed four scoring drives. The Patriots lost this game because their offense couldn’t keep up, because after the Bills went up 17-7, the defense gave them ample chances to get back in it. With a number of other high-powered attacks on their schedule, this will be valuable, but of course the offense needs to deliver to get it done.
Follow StadiumRantHQ on Twitter. Check out our other articles @Stadium Rant. Are you an NFL fan? Have some takes you want to get out into the world? This is the place because we have plenty of opportunities at Stadium Rant spanning the whole NFL and more!