As if the New England Patriots and their fans needed another reminder, the Buffalo Bills are the kings of the AFC East. In completely demolishing the Patriots 38-9 on Monday night at Gillette Stadium, the Bills showed off their high-powered offense while the Patriots continued their string of disappointing play in ugly losses.
For a brief moment, the Patriots actually led this game, as Nick Folk converted an opening-drive field goal to give the Pats a 3-0 lead. After that, it was all downhill, as the Bills scored on five of their next six drives, with the only exception being Josh Allen’s knee taken to end the first half. The Patriots were unable to generate any real pressure all game long, and gave the third year quarterback from Wyoming way too much time for someone of his skill. He picked the New England defense apart from start to finish, and the Bills only punted twice all game.
In the loss, the Patriots offense had a really tough time. With Damien Harris out for the second straight game, it looked like the running game might struggle. However, it was the complete opposite, as the Pats managed to gain 145 yards on 24 carries, for a strong 6.0 yards per carry average. It was the passing game that let the team down, as it has so many times this year.
Cam Newton completed only five passes in the first half, gaining only 34 yards before he was pulled in the third quarter with the Pats trailing 31-9. With Jarret Stidham, however, things did not get much better, as he only threw for 44 yards on 4-11 passing. While this season has proved that Newton is certainly not the long-term answer at quarterback, when Stidham has had the opportunity to play he has been equally unimpressive. His issue in this game was underthrowing balls, as seemingly every throw was at the receiver’s feet. Obviously, with that kind of delivery the wide receivers have no chance.
The lone bright spot in this loss was Cam Newton’s touchdown run. It looked like he turned the clock back to 2011, as he escaped from the pocket and what looked like a sure sack before powering his way to the endzone. While some have questioned how much of his athleticism has been sapped due to his long injury history, moments like this touchdown show that he still at least has that part of his game as his throwing has abandoned him recently.
For the Bills, everything they tried offensively worked to perfection as they became the first AFC East team to sweep the season series with New England since 2000. Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs tore up the New England secondary, with Allen throwing for 320 yards and four touchdowns in only three quarters of play. Diggs had three touchdown receptions, and throughout the night he torched whoever was trying to cover him. On his first TD, he simply outran JC Jackson on a crossing route and took a short pass 50 yards to the house. On his second, he caught an Allen pass near the goal line, absorbed a big hit, and still managed to fight his way in. His third was the most impressive, as he made a great diving catch in the back of the endzone to put the Bills up 31-9.
Up next for the Patriots is the New York Jets on Sunday. Honestly, looking at the way the two teams have played recently, it would not be a shock at all if the Jets won this game. While the Patriots have gotten crushed in their last three games by a combined score of 84-24, the Jets have won two straight and look to be playing with some real pride in a rebuilding season. While a loss would help the Patriots get a better draft pick to find their quarterback of the future, losing to a team that spent the first three months of the season obviously tanking would be a tough way to end the year.
So, we’ll have to wait and see which version of the Patriots shows up on Sunday- the motivated team that decided to show up and blanked the Chargers 45-0 three weeks ago, or the team that has scored one touchdown since. Either way, a painful season is finally drawing to a close after yet another blowout loss.