Ryan L. Fox
Well the 2020 NFL season is not going as the New England Patriots have hoped. After starting the first 3 weeks of the season at 2-1, they lost 3 consecutive games to put them in unfamiliar territory: under .500. Now there are talks about blowing the team up at the trade deadline and hope to gain some assets to build for the future.
Looking to capitalize on the Patriots in disarray are the Buffalo Bills, who currently sitting at top of the AFC East Division.
The teams met at Orchard Park and did battle on the windy, wet field of Bills Stadium. It was an ugly game as both teams slogged it out. One was trying to exorcise ghosts of past failures while the other was trying to keep their season hopes alive. In the end, only one team in red, white, and blue was able to come out on top and it wasn’t who you thought it was.
After forcing the Patriots to punt on their opening possession of the game, the Bills got the ball on their own 22. Bills QB Josh Allen lead the Bills down the field, overwhelming the Patriots defense with a deadly running attack (7 runs for 62 yards) before topping the drive off with a 8-yard touchdown run by RB Zack Moss. Bills K Tyler Bass booted the PAT through to make it 7-0 with 5:29 left in the 1st quarter.
The Patriots opened up the 2nd quarter with the ball at their own 31. They were able to generate a drive going down the field with QB Cam Newton leading the way (2 passed for 36 yards and 3 carries for 11 yards). But the drive sputtered out before reaching the Bills red zone. K Nick Folk booted the 43-yard attempt as it went through the uprights, making it 7-3 with 10:50 left in the quarter.
An interception by Patriots CB J.C. Jackson killed a Buffalo drive as the 3rd-year CB brought the ball to the Buffalo 49. From there, with time winding down, Cam Newton lead the offense down the field. They got to the Buffalo 15 where on 3rd and 1, coach Bill Belichick surprised everybody by sending out the field goal unit. Folk booted the 33-yard attempt through the uprights for his 2nd field goal of the game to make it 7-6 with 8 seconds left in half, which ended up being the score going into halftime.
The Bills got the ball to open up the 2nd half as the Bills offense took to the field. Although the Bills running game was heart of the drive, it was a 41-yard pass from Allen to WR Stefon Diggs on 1st and 10 from the New England 45 that got the Bills into scoring position. On the ensuing play, Moss got the handoff and bowled his 4-yards for his 2nd score of the game. Bass booted the PAT through as the Bills lead grew to 14-6 with 12:09 left in the 3rd quarter.
After forcing the Bills to punt on their 2nd possession, the Patriots were able to get the ball on the Buffalo 37 thanks to a 15-yard punt return by WR/PR Gunner Olszewski. An illegal hands to the face penalty on the opening play of the drive pushed the Patriots back but they were still able to overcome it before getting the ball down to the Buffalo 22. From there, RB Damien Harris bolted through the left side of the line and into the endzone for a 22-yard touchdown run. Newton found WR Jakobi Meyers over the middle for the 2-pt conversion to tie the game at 14-14 with 3:03 left in the 3rd quarter.
The Patriots tried to catch the Bills with an onside kick but the Bills didn’t bite, getting the ball at the New England 45. From there, the Bills opened up with 3 rushing plays by RB Devin Singletary as he got the ball down to the New England 14. From there, Moss took over as he got the ball down to the New England 5 as the 3rd quarter came to a close.
On the opening play of the 4th quarter, Moss bowled his way up the middle for the 1st down. Three plays later, Allen took the snap and ran a QB draw up the middle for the touchdown. Bass kicked the PAT through to make it 21-14 with a little under 13:15 left in the quarter.
The Patriots got the ball back as Newton and the offense opened up shop on their own 28. After 2 consecutive passes from Newton to Damiere Byrd, it was the Damien Harris show. The 2nd-year back out of Alabama carried the rock (4 times for 39 yards to be exact) all the way down to the Buffalo 2. From there on 3rd and goal, Newton rolled to his left and dashed into the endzone. Folk booted the PAT through to tie the game up 21-21 with 9:36 left in the quarter.
A 28-yard field goal by Bass made it 24-21 4:04 left in game as time was dwindling down for the Patriots.
Starting at their own 21, Newton was able to guide his team down the field. The Bills defense looked lost as the Patriots were able to run all over them. The Patriots were able to get into field goal range for the tie but also had the possibility had a chance to even take the late lead.
On 2nd and 10 from the Buffalo 19, Newton scrambled to over the left side for what would have been a 4-yard gain. But then Bills DT Justin Zimmer punched the ball out before Newton's knee touched the ground and was recovered by SS Dean Marlowe at the Buffalo 13 with 31 seconds left in the game.
Allen simply kneeled down the ball in victory formation 3 times (since the Patriots called a time out twice) as the clock ran out.
When the clock read 00:00, the Bills players, coaches, and Bills Mafia got to celebrate. They had beaten the Patriots, a team that has thoroughly dominated them all these years, to jump to a commanding 6-2 record and a perfect 4-0 in the AFC East.
For the Patriots, the loss dropped them to an abysmal 2-5 record and put them in an unfamiliar position they were not accustomed to: mediocrity and obscurity.
Notable Patriots Players Statistical Standouts
QB Cam Newton – 15 for 25 for 174 yards (for a QB rating of 81.1), 9 carries for 54 yards, 1 TD, and 1 fumble lost
RB Damien Harris – 16 carries for 102 yards (6.4 yards per carry) for 1 TD
WR Jakobi Meyers - 6 catches (on 10 targets) for 58 yards
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley – 5 tackles (4 solo, 1 assists), 1.0 sacks
CB J.C. Jackson - 5 tackles (3 solo, 2 assists), 1 INT, and 1 pass defended
Superman Not So Super
Since the day that he signed with the New England Patriots back on July 8, Cam Newton was the talk of the New England. He was all smiles, all laughs, and all about winning with the Patriots. Prior to the start of the season, Newton was named the starting quarterback as well as a team captain.
He made his Patriots debut in Week 1 at home against the Miami Dolphins. In that game, Newton went 15-for-19 for 155 passing yards and had a QB rating of 100.7. He also had 15 carries for 75 yards and 2 touchdowns and showed everybody that he was back to his 2015 form. The following week, Newton aired it out against the Seattle Seahawks. Although the Patriots lost the game 35-30, Newton went 30-for-44 with 397 yards, 1 TD, and 1 interception to go with 11 carries for 47 yards and 2 TD.
People were on the Newton band wagon. Superman had returned and the Patriots were gonna be a force to reckon with in 2020. Heck, there were calls by some for the Patriots to sign Newton to a multi-year extension. Yes, Newton was the king of Foxborough and was starting to make people believers.
Then he started to fall down back to earth.
In Week 3 against the Las Vegas Raiders, Newton’s numbers plummeted. Although he got the victory, Newton had a QB rating of 73.9 (17-for-28 for 162 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) and had a paltry day on the ground (9 carries for 27 yards).
Then prior to a Week 4 match-up, Newton contracted COVID-19 and threw a monkey wrench into the Patriots game plan. He missed the Chiefs game where the Patriots ended up getting slugged 26-10 and the quarterback play was very suspect.
In the team’s Week 6 match with the Denver Broncos, Newton was able to return to the field. He was able to have a big day on the ground (10 carries for 76 yards and 1 TD) and even had a 16-yard catch on a trick play. But when it came to throwing the ball, it was a different story. It seemed like Newton’s throwing mechanics were off. He didn’t step into his throws and was just lofting the ball up into the air. Newton also seemed to have a difficult time going through his reads, trying to thread the needle to covered guys while leaving other receivers wide open. Newton finished the game going 17-for-25 with 156 and had two picks for a 51.6 QB rating.
The Patriot excuse makers (both fans and media) were all out and about trying to protect their quarterback. They cried that the team couldn’t get as much practice in due to COVID problems and that there wasn’t anything wrong with Cam Newton.
Then the 49ers game happened.
In that game, Newton put in his worst game of the season, and the third worst game (QB rating wise) in his NFL career. He went 9-for-15 for 98 yards, but threw 3 interceptions in that game. He looked lethargic out there, just holding onto the ball too long or trying to force the football into tight areas. The play that stood out to me the most was his interception before the halftime, the one where he just aired it out down the middle and into the arms of 49ers CB Emmanuel Moseley. It seemed like Cam Newton just didn’t like how the game was going and just threw the ball up there, something that former Patriots QB Tom Brady would do if things were not going the way he wanted.
Now after the Bills game, Cam Newton is now 103-for-156 for 1,143 yards, 2 TDs, 7 INTs on the 2020 season. What’s very alarming though is the fact that since coming back from COVID, Newton has gone 41-for-65 for 429 yards with 0 TDs and 5 interceptions for a QB rating of 50.1. During that same span, the team has scored just 39 points, averaging just 13 points per game.
Of course the Patriots excuse makers are gonna come out and say that Cam Newton doesn’t have anybody to throw to. That the Patriots put Newton in a situation where he could not succeed. But then again, these were the same people who were pushing for the Patriots to sign Newton to an extension. Their battle cry was that he was gonna make all the NFL teams pay for passing him over and that Bill was a genius for signing him on the cheap.
Regardless, the honeymoon was over after Week 2 and it seems that we are seeing not just the ineptitude of the Patriots offense but more or less the real Cam Newton.
I’m glad that Cam is taking the role of being a captain with pride and taking blame for his shortcomings. But now it just seems like every time he says that, it sounds like a broken record. There’s so much ‘It’s on me, I know I can do better’ that you can take from Newton before calling for his benching.
Unless he has a bounce back game next week against the Jets on Monday Night, Cam’s tenure in New England is gonna be over before you can blink.
Numbers! Numbers! Numbers!
.857 – The winning percentage of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the road against the Buffalo Bills (18-3, the best winning percentage of any coach against one-opponent in NFL history (in a 20-game span)
3,325 – The amount of days from the last time the Bills won at home against the Patriots (September 25, 2011 where the Bills won 34-31 against the Patriots in a Week 3 match-up)
2 – The difference of rushing yards between the two teams this game (190 rushing yards for the Bills vs. 188 rushing yards for the Patriots)
4 – The number of career interceptions Patriots CB J.C. Jackson has against the Buffalo Bills (in 5 games)
1 – The number of back-to-back touchdown drives this season by the New England Patriots
15 – The number of giveaway by the Patriots offense this season
5 – The number of games this year the Patriots have allowed an opponent to score 20 or more points (1-4)
41.4 – The difference in QB rating for Patriot QB Cam Newton this week compared to Week 7 (81.1 against the Bills vs. 39.7 against the 49ers)
Fox Fist Bump
If there was one Patriot deserving of the Fox Fist Bump today, it’s gotta be RB Damien Harris.
It seemed like every time that Harris got the ball, he was making something happen. Against the Bill defense, he was ground and pounding for extra yards or he was slashing and gashing for big yardage plays. Heck, on his big runs (including his touchdown run) it seemed like Harris was outrunning everybody. He ended up finishing the day 16 carries for 102 yards (6.4 yards per carry) and had a touchdown.
I gotta admit, I like this Harris kid. He’s giving the Patriots not only some tough running, like running through and after contact, that some of the other running backs can’t give you (*cough* Sony Michel *cough*) but he’s got that down-hill speed and like an extra gear.
Hopefully he can continue to have some strong games and that the Patriots will rely on him more than their little committee that’s
The Meatball of the Game
I'm gonna give Bill Belichick a meatball this week.
First, let’s go back to the 2nd quarter. Facing a 3rd and short and with 15 seconds left in the game and deep in Buffalo territory, Bill simply elected to just kick the field goal instead of trying to try for one last play.
What, was he too scared to take a shot in the endzone? I thought he was supposed to be the ‘GOAT’ and that ‘he plays chess while everybody plays checkers.’
Then the decision to go for the onside kick was just a sign of desperation. That gave the Bills the ball on the New England 45 where they ultimately scored a touchdown on.
Why didn’t you just boom the ball into the back of the endzone Billy? It would have been a better play to boom the ball and make the Bills try to go the distance. You had success in stopping them a few times before. What, did you think your defense couldn’t get the job done?
Play of the Game
Run Damien Run
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