Ryan L. Fox
In Week 8, the New England Patriots traveled to Orchards Park, NY to face off against the Buffalo Bills hoping to end a 3-game losing streak. Instead, they limped away after losing 24-21 and fell to a paltry 2-5 while the Bills continued to climb up the standings and on top of the AFC East Divisional standings.
Now with the 2020 NFL Season about to come to a close, the two teams met up in the last Monday night football game of the year at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA. The Bills came in, already have clenched the AFC East Divisional title for the first time since 1995 while the Patriots were struggling to not go under .500 for the first time since 2000.
Both teams had something to gain but in the end, only one team could hand their head up high while their opponent just wallowed in self-pity and the dirt.
The night started off with each team scoring a field goal on their opening possession of the game. For the Patriots, it was a 45-yard field goal by K Nick Folk with little over 12:40 left in the 1st quarter. The Bills answered that with a 22-yard field goal by K Tyler Bass with 6:43 left in the quarter.
After forcing the Patriots to punt, the Bills got the ball back on their own 30. The drive got as far as their own 35 as the Bills were forced to punt. But instead, S/ST Jaquan Johnson got the snap and found teammate S/ST Siran Neal for a 13-yard gain to the Buffalo 48. That allowed the team to keep the drive alive until they got to the New England 43. Facing a 4th and 1, QB Josh Allen ended up scrambling down the right sideline for a 22-yard gain to the New England 21.
Three plays later at the New England 10, Allen dropped back to pass for the final play of the 1st quarter. He tried to find WR Stefon Diggs in the endzone but found Patriots CB J.C. Jackson for what appeared to be a driving killing turnover. But instead, the turnover was nullified thanks in part to Patriots DT Adam Butler for a defensive offsides penalty. The ball returned back to the Bills as it became 1st and goal at the New England 5.
A couple of plays later into the 2nd quarter, RB Zack Moss bullied his way through the middle for a 5-yard touchdown run. Bass booted the PAT through the uprights as the Bills took a 10-3 lead with just over 14:50 left in the 2nd quarter.
After getting the following kickoff, the Patriots started the next drive on their own 10. QB Cam Newton ended up leading the offense down the field as the Patriots resorted to a no-huddle style offense. The Patriots ran all over the Bills defense, getting down to the Buffalo 9. From there on 2nd and 7, Newton scrambled left side and into the endzone for his 12th rushing touchdown of the year. On the PAT, Folk hooked it wide left as the score was 10-9 in favor of the Bills with 10:39 left in the quarter.
On the Bills following possession, Allen opened up the drive with a 24-yard toss to TE Devin Knox at the Buffalo 49. From there, the Bills drove down the field on the Patriots defense before getting to the New England 4. From there, Allen found TE Lee Smith in the left part of the endzone for a 4-yard touchdown pass. Bass booted the PAT through the uprights as the Bills lead went back up to 17-9 with a little over 5:30 left in the 2nd quarter.
Following another Patriots punt, the Bills got the ball back on their own 33. After an incompletion, Allen found WR Stefon Diggs on two consecutive plays. The first play was a 17-yard pass to midfield. The next play, Allen found Diggs short over the right side. Diggs caught the ball and proceeded to outrun the entire Patriots secondary for a 50-yard touchdown. Another Bass PAT and the score was 24-9 with under 4 minutes left in the quarter.
That’s where the score remained as the Patriots were forced to punt on the ensuing possession and the Bills kneeled the ball down for the final play of the 1st half.
When the 2nd half began, the Bills allowed the 2nd half kickoff to go through the back of the endzone to get the ball at their own 25. The Bills offense opened up with a passing barrage against the Patriots, airing it out on 7 out of the 8 plays on the drive. The final play of the drive ended up being another Allen-Diggs touchdown combo, this time from 18 yards out. Another Bass PAT and the Bills lead became 31-9 with 11:28 left to play in the 3rd quarter.
Following a few punts between the two teams, the Bills got the ball on their own 5-yard line. But prior to the Bills’ possession, the Patriots ended up making a change at QB. Newton was pulled as back-up QB Jarrett Stidham came in to finish the game for the Patriots.
Starting from their own 5, the Bills relied a little more on the ground game to start off the drive while Allen simply ‘dinked-and-dunked’ his way down the field. But once the team got to the Buffalo 45, Allen found Diggs at the New England 35 for a 20-yard pass and then Smith for a 27-yard pass down to the New England 8. On 1st and goal from the New England 8, Allen scrambled left side as he threw a quick dart to Diggs in the endzone for the score. Another Bass PAT made it 38-9 with 13:16 left in the 4th quarter.
After that last Bills score, the team ended up pulling Allen from the came as back-up QB Matt Barkley came in to finish the game for the team. The Patriots could only just simply watch as the Bills continued to manhandle them. The Patriots offense was stymied when they had the ball while the Bills offense continued to just grind out the clock against the Patriots defense.
When the clock read 00:00, you could almost hear a pin drop in Gillette Stadium. The Patriots were thoroughly beaten by their divisional rivals on their own home field as those who stayed up late to watch saw a passing of the torch.
It was just last year that these two teams met in a Week 16 match-up at Gillette Stadium. Fortune was smiling on the Patriots that night as the team came away with a 24-17 victory with the entire team firing on all cylinders. This time around, the Patriots were dominated on every facet of the game. The were outplayed, outhustled, outscored, and outcoached.
Now at 6-9, the team could only just limp into Week 17 against another AFC East divisional rival, the lowly 2-13 New York Jets. With moods at an all-time low and the team in unfamiliar territory after nearly 2 decades of winning seasons, fans and media can only simply watch as their once proud dynasty has fallen into ruins in just one year’s time.
Notable Patriots Players Statistical Standouts
QB Cam Newton – 5-for-10 for 34 yards for a QB Rating of 57.9; 4 carries for 24 yards (6.0 yards per carry)
RB Sony Michel - 10 carries for 69yards (7.4 yards per carry)
WR Jakobi Meyers- 4 catches (on 7 targets) for 45 yards
P Jake Bailey - 7 punts for 364 yards (avg. 52.0 yards per punt), 4 punts downed past the 20
CB Johnathan Jones - 8 tackles (7 solo, 1 assist)
S Adrian Phillips – 7 tackles (7 solo, 0 assists)
Numbers! Numbers! Numbers!
10 - The number of times the Patriots have allowed their opponent to score 24 points or more in a game this season
21 – The number of years since the last time the Buffalo Bills swept the Patriots in the season series (last time was back in 1999)
19 - The streak of the number of .500 or better seasons (2001-2019) the Patriots had (2nd best all-time in NFL history) coming into 2020 that was snapped with tonight's loss
4 - The number of scoring drives by the Buffalo Bills in the 1st half (on 5 possessions)
1- The number of times Bills starting QB Josh Allen was hit on 36 dropbacks (0 sacks)
12 - The number rushing touchdowns by Patriots QB Cam Newton, tying a franchise record for most rushing touchdowns by a QB (Steve Grogan, 1976)
6 - The number of times this season the Patriots have scored 15 points or less in a single game, tying a franchise worse during the Bill Belichick coaching era
474- The total amount of net offensive yards by the Buffalo Bills, the most allowed by the Patriots defense in a single game this season and the most yards since a Week 2 loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2018 (the Patriots gave up 480 yards in that game and lost 31-20)
Did You Know That...
- After Monday night’s blowout loss to the Bills, QB Cam Newton has a total of 2,415 passing yards for the 2020 season. If he gets benched for the last game against the Jets (highly unlikely), he would have the least amount of passing yards since Tony Eason’s 2,156 passing yards during the 1985 season. Cam already has the least amount of touchdown passes by a Patriots QB in franchise history in a minimum of 10 starts (5 TD passes in 14 starts)
- As easy as it is to pile on Newton, his 9-yard plunge in the 2nd quarter gave him 70 career rushing touchdowns, continuing to extend his NFL-leading record of QB rushing touchdowns. He also became the 2nd No. 1 overall pick in NFL history to have 70 or more rushing touchdowns. The first was HOF RB Earl Campbell with 74 rushing touchdowns (Campbell was the No. 1 pick by the Houston Oilers during the 1978 NFL Draft)
- The last time the Bills swept the season series against the New England Patriots was back in 1999 (Patriots finished 8-8 that year under then head coach Pete Carroll).
Draft Spot Scenario
Well it’s not quite the Tankathon that some fans were hoping for when the team was at 2-5 earlier in the year but it’s not exactly the postseason aspirations other fans had.
With their loss to the Bills, it marked the second time this year the Patriots had a 3+ game losing streak. It also puts them at the 14th spot overall in the upcoming 2021 NFL draft.
If the Patriots decide to phone it in against the New York Jets at home next week, there is a possibility that the Patriots could move up a few spots just outside a top 10 spot (more likely than not, they could rise to either the 11th or 12th spot overall). There are some scenarios the Patriots could get the 10th pick overall but pretty much everything in the cosmos needed to align (i.e. teams winning and losing and what not) so that is merely a pipe dream.
But if the Patriots decide to reach down within themselves and take pride as somebody who wears the flying elvis and beat the Jets, they could fall down as far as 16th overall.
This is a little tricky because there are (for now) 2 QB prospects in Zach Wilson from BYU and Trey Lance from North Dakota State that could be within reach of the Patriots if they end up rising to either 11 or 10. But should they fall to within the middle of the pack, both those QB prospects could be snatched up by a QB-needy team (i.e. the Carolina Panthers or the Denver Broncos) before Roger Goodell could get that awkward hug from the 14th overall prospect. The Patriots could reach for a Mac Jones from Alabama or a Kyle Trask from Florida (who I think would be a better fit) but a reach at QB could set the Pats back even further.
But that whole ‘mock draft’ nonsense is for the new year anyways (it picks up after February anyways so who the hell cares about mock drafts in December).
For now, the Patriots are the masters of their draft spot fate. Although losing would net them a higher draft pick, you don’t want the stink of losing to a 2-13 team.
Fox Fist Bump Present
It’s the last fist bump of the 2020 year by me and well...the only one who was worthy of it was P Jake Bailey.
Now, I know what you are thinking and yeah it’s frightening. It’s probably something along the lines of ‘How can a freakin’ punter deserve a Fox Fist Bump?’.
Well little Jimmy (or Tammy or whoever!), Bailey was the only one who actually showed up to play. He had 4 of his 7 punts downed within the 20 yard line (57%) with one that was downed at the Buffalo 5. He also had a 62-yard punt from deep in his territory that gave the Bills a long field...which ultimately meant nothing cause the defense allowed them to score that possession.'
Somebody showed up to play and it was the punter. Pretty much summarizes the Patriots these past few weeks.
The Meatball of the Game
My god, forget about code red. Try code brown for the way the Patriots defense played in this one.
They ain’t the Boogeymen anymore (which I think is still a dumb moniker for last year’s overrated defense) folks. Hell, they’re not even a respectable defense at all.
The Bills offense just had their way with them for like the entire game. How could such a ‘vaunted defense’ give up 474 yards of total offense?! I thought I was watching Madden game being played out in front of me (I had to double check to make sure the TV was showing the game and my X Box was off).
Hell, on the Bills first 4 possessions of the first half, they all resulted in points. The only time that the Bills didn’t score on was a kneel down with 12 seconds left in the half!
On 36 dropbacks by Bills QB Josh Allen, he was only hit once.
I’ll repeat that again. One hit on 36 dropbacks.
And my god, did the Patriots secondary get exposed. It didn’t matter if it was J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Jason McCourty, or whoever could cover a receiver. Bills wideout Stefon Diggs absolutely torched them so bad (9 catches on 11 targets for 145 yards and 3 TDs). If you watched that 50-yard touchdown catch in the 2nd quarter by Diggs, he simply outran everybody. Hell, he even stumbled near the goal line and they still couldn’t catch up.
The one time they could legitimately make a play in the game (J.C. Jackson’s would-be endzone interception) was nullified due to a costly penalty! Offsides on the defense?! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
My fat ass could have suited up in one of those old-school uniforms with the leather helmet and throw for 300+ yards against this defense. Hell, my buddy Joe Ferro, host of Ferro & Fox, could have streaked past the J.C. Jackson, bad hip and all, for 100 yards and a couple of touchdowns.
I hope to God they show up against the Jets next week. Otherwise, kiss your asses good bye!
Play of the Game
The 2020 Patriots in a Nutshell
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