An expected Bills loss to the Pats can still be depressing

The Bills' passing game looks as bad as the Sabres offense

Howard Simon
December 03, 2017 - 6:33 pm

Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports


My Buffalo Bills post-game routine is always the same, win or lose. I listen to the post-game show while writing up all my notes from the game and check the final stats for other information. As soon as that is all done, I start writing my article. But this time was different. I finished all of my prep work, but instead of hunt and pecking on my computer keys, I just stared out at the field and the empty stadium.

I had no expectations of a Bills victory against their all-time leading nemesis, Tom Brady. As I’m sure many of you thought, I figured it wouldn’t even be close. Yet when all was said and done, I was still depressed after the game and really didn’t feel like writing about it.

I’m not exactly sure why. It could be because the Bills defense played better than I expected and gave the team a chance to actually have a halftime lead, but the offense couldn’t take advantage of it.

It could be watching this pathetic Bills passing game has taken too much of a toll. Games like these, and I include both Tyrod Taylor and Nathan Peterman in this, make you wonder if or when the Bills will ever get a real quarterback. You know, the kind of quarterback who can go out and beat the best teams in the NFL.

It could be the cheap shot by Rob Gronkowski which left me feeling like the bully had once again knocked down his favorite target and was laughing while kicking sand in his face. It could be the out-of-town scoreboard which didn't provide much help in the early games. Tennessee, Baltimore and Jacksonville all won. In all likelihood it is a combination of all of these reasons but I’ll focus in on the Bills offense.

I never imagined the Bills would keep Brady and company out of the end zone for the entire first half. The man who has tortured the Bills while rolling up 27 career wins against them looked ordinary as he completed 8-of-14 passes for just 96 yards. The explosive Pats offense produced a measly three field goals. The nine points are the lowest total for the Patriots in any first half this season. This was also the first time they were held without a touchdown in the opening half since Week 17 of the 2015 season. And what did the Bills do with this? Absolutely nothing!

There was an encouraging start to the game though as the Bills took the opening kick and moved down field. They were running the ball well as LeSean McCoy had five carries for 29-yards. They were showing different looks like an empty set with McCoy lining up outside as a receiver. There was some wildcat with Joe Webb and a shovel pass for Charles Clay. The Bills had five first downs on the drive and took more than seven minutes off the clock while setting themselves up with a first and goal at the New England six-yard line.

Then it happened.

Taylor threw an awful interception. He had enough time in the pocket to see that his first two reads were taken away, so he tried to get the ball to McCoy coming across in the end zone. The pass was behind McCoy and went right into the arms of former Bills practice squad member Eric Lee. He was at the one-yard line just waiting for that ball to come to him. It was as if the Patriots were saying “don’t even think you might actually be able to beat us”.

That was the closest the Bills came to a touchdown in the first half. Taylor was shaken up on the very first play, so perhaps that injury would explain his struggles over the day. But the Bills passing offense was anemic. The futility of the air attack came on a day when the running game was quite successful. Buffalo had 110 yards on the ground at the break, so it was keeping the Patriots defense honest but it still didn’t matter. Taylor ended up throwing for just 48 yards in the opening 30 minutes. He once again did not take shots downfield. Wide receivers combined for 12 yards on two catches.

It didn’t get any better in the second half and Taylor eventually left the game due to the knee injury he suffered on that first play. Nathan Peterman came in, but by that time it was 23-3 and a sixth straight home loss to New England was pretty much a certainty.

During the post game show on WGR, Schopp and Bulldog took a few calls from fans who want the Bills to start Peterman against Indianapolis. Mike and Chris were incredulous and both said Taylor still gives them the best chance to win. That’s exactly how I felt when Sean McDermott benched Taylor for the Chargers game, but now I’m not so sure. It's not like Peterman came in and lit it up against New England, but the passing game is so hard to watch. It's almost as bad as watching the Sabres attempt to score goals.

Now for the good news. We all expected the Bills would lose this game and the next meeting with the Patriots in New England. So the mission remains the same - beat the Colts, and then knock off Miami twice. Get to 9-7 and cross your fingers that help comes on the out-of-town scoreboard.

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