In a game that can only be described as Murphy’s Law of Football, everything that could go wrong did go wrong for the Bills in their 3-34 throttling at the hands of New England Sunday. The Bills were a whopping -7 in turnover differential and while the Patriots are the league’s best team, it certainly didn’t help our chances coughing it up at that rate.
As tough as Sunday was to endure, lessons can still be learned from games like this. This game is a way of seeing how we can stack up against the premier team in the league right now. As exciting as it was to see us take some of the league’s elites to the wire this season, we played some teams with offensive lines that aren’t as physically imposing as the Patriots (e.g. Bears, Steelers). We got manhandled on both sides of the ball. New England could have ran 10 straight plays and I’m not sure we would’ve stopped him.
Here’s some musings of mine from Sunday’s game:
- I’m going to miss seeing Donte Whitner in a Bills uniform. If it’s true that he’s asking for upwards of $7 million, that’s not happening in Buffalo. I’m one of Donte’s biggest supporters, but given that big of a difference in price tag, George Wilson can fill in admirably at Strong Safety next season. I’ve always felt that the only way you can lock up that much cap room (if there is a cap) to a safety, is if they change the way offenses gameplan. Donte is a leader, a hard worker, and a heavy-hitter, but he doesn’t have to be identified as to where he’s lining up before every play.
- The offensive line returned to their old selves. On one sack, Eric Wood just could not anchor against the bigger, stronger Patriots defensive lineman Kyle Love and got blown up
- The Patriots made a point of getting local guy Rob Gronkowski the rock. He had 4 catches for 54 yards and 2 TDs, including a spectacular one handed catch. He could have opened the game with a 60+ yard TD catch if Brady didn’t miss him on the opening play. Tom just under threw him on a play action.
- In the final minutes, some of the Bills players’ milestones were announced and put up on the jumbo-tron. Being the last home game, they didn’t have much choice, but both players mentioned had rough games. Fitzy (reached 3,000 passing yards) accounted for 5 turnovers, while Stevie Johnson (reached 1,000 receiving yards) had another day plagued with drops.
- C.J. is having quite a disappointing rookie season. While I still think he’ll be a big-time player at the next level, he’s had a lot of trouble adjusting thus far. He finally flashed the hands I’ve been telling my most-likely-annoyed family members about all season. He went up and battled for that ball. His fumbles, however, have been very uncharacteristic. Guess how many fumbles C.J. had running the ball his entire career at Clemson. If you guessed never, you’d be right. Most RBs struggle to realize they can’t run around people anymore and C.J. has been battling that all season as well. Here in the latter portions of the season, he’s been heading upfield more, but he has a lot of room for improvement. He’ll be fine in time, he’s just struggling a lot this season.
- Why do we play the Patriots better on the road than at home? My only guess is that Belichick and Co. have game film to base the 2nd game on, because usually we play in New England at the start of the season and finish the series here.
We are definitely improving as a football team, but we now have a better idea of where we stand.