Another Bills loss to New England

The Bufalo offense just didn't do enough to help the defense

Howard Simon
December 21, 2019 - 9:44 pm

When the Buffalo Bills lost 24-17 to the Baltimore Ravens two weeks ago, I still felt good after the game. I was now convinced the Bills could play with any team in the league.

After the Bills lost 24-17 to the New England Patriots on Saturday, I was angry.

I wasn’t angry about them losing the game, because the Bills had already clinched a playoff spot. Even if the Bills won, the Patriots would have likely clinched the division with a victory over the Miami Dolphins in Week 17.

I was angry because I’m so tired of losing to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. I’m tired of the Patriots winning (this is their 11th straight AFC East title), and I’m tired of Boston fans seeing the Patriots win all the time. I really felt this was one of the Bills' best chances ever to beat Brady in Foxboro, and it turned out to be woulda, coulda, shoulda.

I thought 17 points would be enough to beat New England, but Brady and the Patriots offense had their best showing since the first month of the season. Brady was accurate and on time, while posting a season-best 78% completion rate. Brady was 26-of-33 for 271 yards and a touchdown, while improving his career record against the Bills to a sickening 32-3 record.

After recording 20 sacks in their previous five games, the Bills didn’t sack Brady once. The Patriots had a balanced offense with running back Sony Michel adding 96 yards on 21 carries. The Bills defense was unable to get New England off the field. They were 7-of-14 on third down, which is a big reason why their time of possession was just under 39 minutes.

The Buffalo offense was also a factor in the time of possession imbalance. Buffalo had just 10 drives on offense, and eight of those 10 lasted less than three minutes. The Bills had just one drive last more than seven plays and it was their final possession, which took 14 plays and ended on a fourth down Josh Allen incompletion. The Bills managed only 268 total yards and were just 2-of-11 on third down against a very strong Patriots defense. The offense put the Bills in front 17-13 on a 53-yard bomb from Allen to wide receiver John Brown, but it failed to add to that lead and left Brady the opportunity for the fourth quarter come-from-behind win.

After the Brown touchdown, which was the longest play from scrimmage for the Bills this season, the offense went three-and-out on its next two drives. The lack of production from Devin Singletary’s portion of the run game in the second half was a big problem. Singletary had 34 yards on seven carries in the first half, but eight second half runs produced a total of 12 yards. Allen’s legs were the Bills' best ground game weapon after halftime.

While Allen made some big throws on that final drive, he did miss tight end Dawson Knox for a touchdown that would have pulled the Bills within one point. Allen’s terrific 25-yard pass to Cole Beasley had given the Bills a 1st-and-goal at the Patriots' eight-yard line, but that is where the drive died. After an Allen designed run lost a yard on first down, Knox was open in the end zone, but the pass from Allen was just a bit too high and it went past an outstretched arm of Knox. Allen also missed Knox in the end zone in the first half, but that was a slightly more difficult throw. The Bills' pass protection broke down on their final two plays, which led to a sack and then the incompletion on, what was basically a Hail Mary as Allen was backpedaling to get away from three pass rushers. Right tackle Cody Ford was beaten by Kyle Van Noy on both of those plays. It was part of a rough day for the Bills rookie right tackle.

The Bills now face a meaningless regular season finale against the New York Jets before a Wild Card matchup on the road against either the Houston Texans or Kansas City Chiefs.

A word of advice to Sean McDermott for the next game - rest as many starters as possible.

Hello, Matt Barkley!

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