Ryan L. Fox
It was deemed the first challenge in the New England Patriots 2019 season. In Week 4, they traveled up to Orchard Park, New York to face off against their AFC East rivals, the Buffalo Bills in the ‘Battle of the Undefeateds.’ With each team coming into the game at 3-0, it was clear that some eyes would be paying attention.
Unlike the first 3 weeks of the season, this was an ultimate slugfest for the New England Patriots. It was dirty, it was ugly, and the offense looked reprehensible. It came down to defense and special teams as each side boasted a formidable squad in both areas. But in the end, only one team could go undefeated.
The Patriots opened up the game as KR/RB Brandon Bolden took the opening kickoff to the New England 15. The offense opened up with a 15-yard run by RB Sony Michel to the New England 30 but ended up stalling there and were forced to punt.
The Bills got their first possession of the game, getting the ball at their own 24. On a penalty-ridden drive, they were able to get the ball as far as their own 40 before getting pushed back to their own 30 due to an offensive holding penalty. On 1st and 20 from their own 30, QB Josh Allen looked deep for WR John Brown. However, that pass was intercepted by FS Devin McCourty at the New England 31 and brought back to midfield.
From there, QB Tom Brady lead the offense down the field. This included pass plays of 14-yards and 26-yards to RB James White that got the ball moving. The Patriots got all the way down to the Buffalo 4 where on 1st and goal, Bolden got the ball as he sprinted over the left side for the game’s first score. Unfortunately, K Stephen Gostkowski missed the PAT wide right as the Patriots led 6-0 with a little over 7 and a half minutes left in the quarter.
The Bills got the ball back as KR/WR Andre Roberts brought the ball to the Buffalo 37. The Bills ended up losing yards, getting pushed back to their own 33. On 4th and 14, Bills P Corey Bojorquez was back to punt. But on the play, Patriots CB J.C. Jackson broke through and blocked the punt. The ball bounced around the Buffalo 11 and was scooped up by WR/ST Captain Matthew Slater as he stumbled over the goalline for the touchdown. This time Gostkowski’s PAT attempt was good as the Patriots lead increased to 13-0 with under 6 and half minutes left in the quarter.
After an exchange of punts between both teams, the Bills got the ball back on their own 41. They were able to get as far as the New England 48 as on 1st and 10, Allen looked deep to WR Zay Jones on the right sideline. Allen would have had Jones for a potential touchdown had he thrown the ball out in front of his receiver. Instead, he underthrew the ball and it fell into Jackson’s waiting hands at the New England 10, who then proceeded to bring the back to the New England 29. The Patriots offense ended up stalling to end the 1st quarter and open the 2nd quarter with an incompletion and a punt.
After forcing the Bills to punt, the Patriots got the ball at their own 5-yard line. They then proceeded to march down the field with almost an even balance of running and passing plays. However, on a 2nd and 7 at the Buffalo 34, Brady was hit with a questionable intentional grounding penalty that moved the ball back to the Buffalo 44 and made it 3rd and 17. After a 9-yard pass to WR Julian Edelman to the Buffalo 35, the Patriots were faced with a 4th and 8. Deciding to go for it, Brady tried to find WR Phillip Dorsett deep along the right sideline but it fell incomplete. Fortunately for the Patriots, Bills CB Tre’Davious White interfered with Dorsett to draw the pass interference penalty and give the Patriots a 1st and goal at the Buffalo 8.
The Patriots tried to turn to the running game as Michel took two consecutive carries down to the Buffalo 2. Then on 3rd and goal, Brady tried to find a receiver in the endzone. He looked to Edelman near the right corner but instead found SS Micah Hyde for the drive-killing interception.
Getting the ball on their own 20, Allen found WR Cole Beasley for a 9-yard pass to the Buffalo 29 to get the drive going. Then on 2nd and 1, RB Frank Gore barreled through the right side and nearly outran the Patriots defense for a 41-yard run down to the New England 30. A 5-yard Illegal Use of the Hands penalty on Patriots OLB Elandon Roberts tacked on 5 more yards, moving the ball to the New England 25. They were able to get as far as the New England 20, but Allen was sacked by LB Kyle Van Noy at the New England 28. The Bills had to settle for a 46-yard field goal by Stephen Hauschka to make it 13-3 with a little under 2 minutes remaining in the half.
After forcing the Patriots to punt, the Bills got the ball back at their own 32 with a little over a minute and a half remaining in the half. Allen quickly tried to lead the offense down the field, getting as far as the New England 26. However, he took another 3rd down sack back at the New England 31 as the Bills had to settle for a 49-yard field goal by Hauschka. But instead of going into halftime down by a touchdown, Hauschka hooked the ball left as both teams went into halftime with the score being 13-3 in favor of the Patriots.
The Bills got the ball to open the 2nd half, beginning their first drive of the 2nd half at their own 25. Allen opened the drive up with a 23-yard pass to RB T.J. Yeldon to the Buffalo 48. Allen then began to pepper the Patriots defense with passes as the Bills offense got all the way down to the New England 7. Gore then took the ball and barreled his way all the way down to under the 1-yard line. Then on 4th and goal, Allen reached over the goalline for the score. Hauschka added the PAT as the score was now 13-10.
Both teams then proceeded to exchange punts with one another but barely used any time off the clock in the process.
The Bills then got the ball back on the on their own 12 with under 5 and a half minutes left in the 3rd quarter. After 2 running plays, the Bills had 1st and 10 at their own 23. However Allen’s deep pass for Jones was picked off by Jackson at the Buffalo 43 and brought back to the Buffalo 42.
Fortunately for the Bills, their defense held up when they needed to.
With the ball at the Buffalo 7, the Patriots could only muster 3 total net yards on 3 plays. On 4th and goal from the Buffalo 4, the Patriots settled for field goal. Gostkowski’s 23-yard kick went through the uprights as the Patriots lead extended to 16-10 with under a minute left in the 3rd quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Roberts was able to bring the ball out to the Buffalo 35. Allen found Brown for an 18-yard pass to the New England 47 to open the drive up. They ended the 3rd quarter with a 2-yard run by Gore to the New England 45.
The Bills opened the 4th quarter with an incompletion to Beasley from Allen as the Bills were faced with a 3rd and 8. Allen ended up scrambling for the first down, but Patriots CB Johnathan Jones lead with his head and landed a helmet-to-helmet hit on Allen. But instead of a first down, the referees flagged T Dion Dawkins for a holding penalty on the play. The penalties ended up offsetting each other, thus keeping it 3rd and 8 at the New England 45.
Allen was taken out of the game as Bills backup QB Matt Barkley came in. On his first play, Barkley found Brown down the right sideline for a 28-yard pass to the New England 17. Barkley got the Bills offense all the way down to the New England 3. Facing a 4th and goal from the New England 3, the Bills elected to go for it. Barkley’s pass to Jones deflected off of Jones’ hands and seemingly into the arms of SS Patrick Chung. But upon further review, the call was reversed, and it was called an incomplete pass. Nevertheless, it was a turnover on downs and gave the Patriots the ball on the New England 2.
Then for the remainder of the game, it became a defensive chess match. Every time the Bills got the ball, the Patriots defense swarmed and stymied them. But surprisingly enough, the Patriots offense was swarmed and stymied by the Bills defense.
With time running out for the Bills, Barkley tried to move the offense down the field. He first found Beasley for 27 yards on back-to-back pass plays up to the Buffalo 41. Then Barkley found TE Dawson Knox for a 19-yard pass to the New England 40 as play stopped for the Two-Minute Warning. After the Two-Minute warning, Barkley ended up throwing a botched screen pass to Brown to the New England 39. However the next pass he threw was batted at the line by Patriots DE Michael Bennett. On 3rd and 9 from the New England 39 and the game on the line, Barkley dropped back. He was then hit by LB Kyle Van Noy as the ball floated up into the air. LB Jamie Collins waited underneath it as he snagged the ball for the game-clenching interception.
Brady kneeled down 3 times as the Patriots escaped Buffalo with the 16-10 victory lead by the. The win moved the Patriots up to 4-0 for the season, including going 3-0 in the AFC East.
P Jake Bailey: 9 punts for 433 yards (48.1 yards per punt), 1 downed inside 20
FS Devin McCourty: 5 tackles (5 solo, 0 assists), 1 pass defended, 1 INT
LB Jamie Collins: 4 tackles (3 solo, 1 assist), 1.0 sacks, 1 pass defended, 1 INT
LB Kyle Van Noy: 8 tackles (6 solo, 2 assists), 2.0 sacks, 1 forced fumble
DE John Simon: 6 tackles (5 solo, 1 assist), 1.0 sacks, 1 pass defended
CB J.C. Jackson: 2 tackles (1 solo, 1 assist), 2 passes defended, 2 INT, 1 blocked punt
Numbers! Numbers! Numbers!
8 – The number of consecutive wins by the New England Patriots in Buffalo since Sept. 25, 2011
224 – The total yards of offense by the Patriots, the lowest since Dec. 20, 2009 (A 17-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo)
151 - The yard differential between the Patriots (224) and the Bills (375) for the entire game
45.9 – Tom Brady’s QB rating for the game, the 5th worst game QB rating in his career as a starter
5,501 - The number of days since the last time Brady had a game QB rating worse than 46.0 against the Buffalo Bills (Brady had a QB rating of 22.5 in a 31-0 shutout against the Bills in Buffalo back on September 7, 2003)
.900– The winning percentage of the Patriots against the Buffalo Bills while playing at Orchard’s Park during the Belichick coaching era (18-2)
14 – The number of consecutive quarters the Patriots defense had not allowed an opposing offense into the endzone during 2019 before QB Josh Allen’s QB sneak in the 3rd quarter
1 – The career number of touchdowns for WR/ST Matthew Slater (the blocked punt return touchdown in the 1st quarter was the first one in his 12-year career)
10 – The number of points the Patriots scored on Bills turnovers (2 Josh Allen INTs)
15,021 – The number of career yards Bills RB Frank Gore has, making him the 4th running back in NFL History to have 15,000+ career yards rushing (Emmitt Smith 18,355; Walter Payton 16,726; Barry Sander 15,269)
Fox Fist Bump
The Fox Fist Bump goes to DB J.C. Jackson.
With all the focus on the Patriots front 7 and a defensive backfield that boasts talents like the likes of the McCourty twins, Patrick Chung, and Stephon Gilmore, it’s easy to see how Jackson could get lost in the shuffle.
In this game, Jackson showed that he could not only could play on opposite side of All-Pro corner Stephon Gilmore but showed why he deserved to be a starter. He had 2 interceptions, including 1 late in the 3rd quarter that led to a field goal.
But the big play of the game came in the 1st quarter when he blocked a punt that teammate WR/ST Matthew Slater to score the game’s first touchdown, which ultimately was the game difference.
Kudos to you young man. There’s a bright future ahead of you if you continue to play at this high level.
Also, I wanna give LB Jamie Collins another fist bump.
Another solid stat line this week (4 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 1 pass defended, 1 INT) for Collins. Plus on Hauschka’s 49-yard field goal attempt before halftime, Collins he hurdled over the lineman and nearly had himself a blocked field goal.
It’s like a resurrection of the man’s career since he came back to New England. If he continues to play at this level, it shouldn’t come to a surprise to anybody when his name gets mentioned for 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Oh there are a few.
The first Meatball of the Game goes Patriots OC Josh McDaniels just for his play calling.
There were way too many instances of just passing on all 3 downs that barely ran time off the clock. Not to mention the predictability of what kind of play calling there was going to be (i.e. Sony Michel for running plays, James White for pass plays).
The excuse by Patriots fans and media people are going to use is the ‘Oh, they didn’t have that many offensive weapons.’ Don’t give me that bull*** if you keep preaching ‘next man up’ until your blue in the face. The offense was garbage and the guy calling the shots did a poor job of doing so.
The Patriots should be lucky they have another creampuff next week so they can work on their offensive shortcomings. Things are only about to get tougher from here.
The next one goes to K Stephen Gostkowski. CAN YOU STOP MISSING A GODDAMN EXTRA POINT?! He’s so lucky his defense prevented the Bills from scoring a touchdown early on in the 4th quarter that would have given them the lead. Somebody should get in Gostkowski’s face and tell him if he misses another PAT, he’ll get cut and bring in another kicker off the street to replace him.
Finally, you have all the Pats Media people (i.e. Matt Chatham and Scott Zolak) who thought CB Jonathan Jones’ hit on Josh Allen was clean. Clearly it showed the Pats defensive back led with the head, initiating helmet-to-helmet contact on Allen. If somebody like Edelman, Michel, James White, or, dare I say, Tom Brady was on the receiving end, they’d be screaming bloody murder. But because it wasn’t a Patriots player, they say it was clean. Give me a break!
Play of the Game
For Science Slater!
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