The New England Patriots had a rough loss against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, but that loss does not take away from a solid start to the season and the return of Tom Brady.
The Patriots lost 16-0 to the Buffalo Bills, marking their first defeat of the season. But Patriot fans and coaching were less concerned about the loss and more concerned about how poorly the Patriots played. The Patriots were shut out at home for the first time since they began playing in Gillette Stadium in 2002, and for just the third time since Bill Belichick began coaching the team.
Belichick summed things up in the post-game press conference, according to the Boston Herald, when he declared that “nothing was good enough” and that he was more focused on fixing Sunday’s mistakes than looking forward to the return of Tom Brady.
The Patriots came out flat from the opening minutes, as rookie cornerback Cyrus Jones attempted to take a knee when he was outside the end zone. From there, it was one mistake after another. Fellow rookie and third-string starting quarterback Jacob Brissett failed to connect with his wide receivers and was pressured by the Buffalo defense throughout the game.
On defense, the Patriots were surprisingly confused by Buffalo using the wildcat formation even though Bills quarterback coach David Lee was the same coach who had used that strategy to great effect against the Patriots in 2008. Buffalo got the only touchdown of the game in the first quarter and then proceeded to hold the Patriots off the rest of the game. New England had a few chances such as a 90-yard catch to Julius Edelman which was called back due to penalties by Chris Hogan and a missed field goal in the third quarter. But the team was largely uncompetitive and lacked the offensive firepower without Brady to make up for the early deficit.
Bills coach Rex Ryan was his usual bombastic self, declaring after the game that he had “inside sources” which told him that Brissett would be starting in place of the injured second-string quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Ryan later said on Monday, according to ESPN, that he was just messing with the Patriots and was delighted if that had managed to get inside their heads.
The Bills are 2-2 this season, with their other victory coming against the Arizona Cardinals. Meanwhile, the Patriots have lost their momentum from a strong performance against the Houston Texans the week before and will look to rebound.
While the loss was undoubtedly disappointing, most Patriots fans would have been fine at the start of the season with a 3-1 record without Tom Brady. Brady will return next week as the “Deflategate” scandal and the controversy around his suspension draws to a close, and the Patriots can look forward to his return.
But Brady will need to hit the ground running as the Patriots are starting to look shaky at the quarterback position without him. In addition to the aforementioned Garoppolo injury, Brissett has a thumb injury. Belichick was his usual taciturn self, reports NESN, when discussing Garoppolo in a Monday conference call at one point stating, “We listed the inactive players as inactive. Inactive players can’t play. They’re inactive.” Brady will also have to adjust to playing with a more limited Rob Gronkowski, who was shut out against the Bills and is clearly hobbled with a hamstring injury.
The Patriots will be heading to Cleveland next Sunday to take on a hapless 0-4 Brown team, the only team not to win a game this season. The Bills will head to Los Angeles to play the 3-1 Rams.
[Featured Image by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images]