Familiar feeling

Another loss to the Patriots? What else is new?

December 04, 2017 - 9:09 am

Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports


These games with the New England Patriots every year aren’t always the same. Sometimes it just kind of seems that way. While the games don’t always follow the same script, the days leading up to these games are very similar.

The week begins for me usually with a feeling that’s pretty close to hopelessness. Of course, there’s no way the Buffalo Bills will beat the Patriots. New England has Tom Brady and Buffalo doesn’t and, oh by the way, have you noticed how the Patriots' defense has been playing? By mid-week, that defeatist approach can make me feel guilty and I start thinking about how it’s the NFL and any given Sunday and all that crap. By Sunday, I find myself spending the hours leading up to kickoff considering what it would feel like if the Bills beat the Patriots. This week that even included the caveat that if Buffalo were to beat New England, then they’d just have to make the playoffs. You can’t pull this upset and then screw it up against the Indianapolis Colts or Miami Dolphins.

Then the game starts. The Bills get a promising looking first possession that ends at the Patriots six-yard line when a falling Tyrod Taylor throws a ball right to Eric Lee for an interception. Buffalo managed to hold Brady and the Patriots offense in check for the first half. Three Stephen Gostkowski field goals offset by one for Stephen Hauschka left us at 9-3 at halftime, and you know maybe today will be different.

Well, not like you didn’t know this, but they do play the second halves of these games and staying within six at halftime affords you no moral victory.

The second half inevitably started and when it did, things unraveled. New England drove for a touchdown in a shade under six minutes. The next Bills possession ended when Taylor tried to spin his way out of trouble on a third and five and instead spun himself into a 20-yard sack.

The Patriots got the ball back and a few minutes later, it was 23-3 and you probably know the rest. Things took a dramatic turn when Taylor left the field on a cart early in the fourth quarter. Taylor was slow to get up on the games first play when he appeared to get his knee caught up on a scramble. His leaving this game had no bearing on the outcome, but Taylor’s availability surely will impact the Bills' playoff chances in the coming weeks.

That wasn’t all the bad injury news. Tre’Davious White was escorted off the field after he made a late interception and Rob Gronkowski felt the need to channel his inner WWE wrestler and blasted White, who was already down by contact on the play. The Bills immediately announced that White was being evaluated for a head injury.

So what does it all mean? Well beating New England would’ve been nice for a change, but it never really was all that likely. The Bills' playoff chances will hinge on whether or not they can beat Indy, then Miami twice, and get the help they’ll need to win the anticipated tiebreakers.

Despite his struggles against New England and a few weeks ago against New Orleans, Taylor represents the best chance the Bills have to end the drought. That’s not to say they’ve got it made if he recovers quickly. It’s just that I don’t know why you would expect Nathan Peterman to get the job done. It’s easy to hang Taylor’s poor games on him and take out 17 years of frustration on him. It’s just never been right. Do Taylor’s good games leave you wanting more? Sure they do. But given the opponents coming up it might be enough. If Peterman has to play, who knows what you’ll get?

Of course, in the big scheme of things, this loss to New England drives home, yet again, just how badly the Bills need a better quarterback than Taylor, Peterman, or any of the other men the Bills have lined up under center during this era of dominance by New England. Any day you hold Brady and the Patriots offense to 23 points, well that’s a great job by your defense. Taylor, and then Peterman in the fourth quarter could do nothing to help the Bills' cause. Some open receivers would probably help.

Ultimately, what you end up with is another game that should tell you just how bad off the Bills are at quarterback. Addressing their shortcomings at the position in any meaningful way can’t happen until the off season.

That definitely makes the cut as an all too familiar feeling.

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