FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (WROC) — That Patriots offense is a joke.
I watched their last two games against the Jets and Vikings. While they were obviously devoid of anything remotely resembling talent (Rhamondre Stevenson being the exception), they were able to move the ball. I thought they’d at least be functional against the Bills. They weren’t close to functional. That’s even against a Bills defense that didn’t have Von Miller.
What the Bills did have with Shaq Lawson who, among other things, single-handedly short-circuited a New England drive in the second quarter that nearly resulted in a safety. His teammates were already blown away by the player Lawson has been during his second stint with the Bills.
“Shaq’s a different animal out there this year. Gol-lee!” Jordan Poyer said. “He’s playing out of his mind.”
A.J. Epenesa had a sack and two tackles for a loss. The Bills held the Patriots run game to just 60 yards. Game 1 of 4 without Miller went just fine for the D-line, thank you very much.
Offsetting the loss of Miller was the return of Tremaine Edmunds. He only had six tackles, but it seemed almost every one carried a big impact. I thought it was one of his better games of the year.
After spending the first 11 weeks rotating through young corners, the Bills spent this contest with two grizzled veterans in Tre White and Xavier Rhodes manning the outside for just about the entire game. It’s hard to get a read on their performance against this Patriots team that creates zero concern at receiver. If that is the plan at corner the next couple weeks, we’ll find out soon enough about the Rhodes/White combo. It’s a pretty big jump from the Patriots wideouts to the Jets and another pretty big jump from the Jets to the Dolphins.
Sean McDermott can try to poo-poo rookie Kaiir Elam as a healthy scratch, but actions always speak louder than words in the NFL. The Bills sat Elam with only one true backup at corner (Dane Jackson). They sat Elam behind a pair of corners that were yet to play a full game all season with one still working back from a major knee injury. They sat Elam so John Brown could run around a little and not get the ball thrown his way.
The Bills first round pick just isn’t good enough to be on the field right now. This team, appropriately, is about winning right now not developing. That doesn’t mean Elam can’t be a very successful player in the (near?) future, but it’s quite a statement on where he is at present.
The Patriots did plenty to prevent themselves from moving the ball. They were predictable and mistake-prone. Nothing sums up their offense better than Marcus Jones. The one guy to score a touchdown Thursday night was someone who had never been on the field for an offensive snap before that play. Jones was the only energy for New England and the Patriots didn’t even think to use him on offense until December 1st.
The Bills still did a nice job suffocating away what little life the Patriots offense showed. It was a good reminder that, when this unit is fully healthy, it can still be very dominant.
Speaking of dominant, let’s talk about Stefon Diggs for a moment. He was operating the full toolbox on Thursday night. The rolling, one-handed hold the ball while laying on a defender to convert a third down was one of the better catches you’ll see. The run after catch ability was on display to help set up the Bills final touchdown. Their first touchdown looked like Josh Allen got in the huddle and said, “Stef… I’m throwing it to you. Just get open’.
He’s so good for a guy who is physically so unassuming. This was the 8th time in 12 games this year he’s had a touchdown. He’s got the same record for games with 90 or more receiving yards. It feels like we could say all these things about Diggs every week, but he was that good against New England. So, I wanted to say them all again.
The Allen numbers were solid, but not spectacular even if the game still contained a healthy does of spectacular. The flip on the run to Nyheim Hines and the ridiculous touchdown to Gabe Davis were pretty good indicators that Allen is feeling healthy. If that wasn’t enough for you, then the attempt to hurdle defenders between the hashes should be all the evidence needed that Allen is fine. Though, that particular hurdling stunt I would advise him never to try again.
I don’t want to spend too much time praising the run game because New England’s offense was so poor, the Bills were never pushed to be more aggressive. What I do want to praise is the continued success on 3rd and short. Buffalo was improved in this situation during both games at Detroit and the trend continued in Foxboro. Devin Singletary was two for two on 3rd and one’s, including a touchdown.
The Bills are going to get a few, wide-open easy runs every week just because of how much teams overplay the pass against them. The runs that are able to move the chains with the line of scrimmage crowded are much more impressive. Ken Dorsey is winning there on a regular basis the last few weeks and those wins now includes a couple against what’s been a pretty good New England defense.
It boggles my mind to think about all the bleep the Bills have endured the last two weeks. Snow storms. Losing home games. A bug that continues to filter through the locker room. Becoming the first team in NFL history to play three road games in 12 days. All that turned into just another Buffalo three-game winning streak.
“We could have used every excuse in the book,” Allen said. “We have that type of love in the locker room that you’re going to find ways to win football games.”
Mitch Morse praised how Sean McDermott allowed the players to get rest and take care of their bodies while still preparing for games through unforeseen circumstances. This stretch will likely forever be underrated work by the Bills top notch head coach.
It may not always look pretty, but teams win playoff spots and divisions and one-seeds with stretches like that. You have to be a championship-caliber team to pull it off. Sure, this New England team didn’t appear much good and neither did the Lions or Browns before them.
It doesn’t matter the caliber of opponent. Any NFL team that wins three games during the two-week stretch of hell the Bills just experienced is no joke.