The Patriots lost to the Bills 24-10 on Thursday. The loss sends Bill Belichick’s team down to .500 at 6-6.
It was a poor performance from New England, with setbacks in all three stages of the game and another loss to Josh Allen and Buffalo.
The Patriots will attempt to regroup against the Cardinals on Monday Night Football (December 12).
Here are a few takeaways:
It was a rough night for Mac Jones.
After his most statistically impressive game of the season in the Thanksgiving loss to the Lions, Mac Jones may have been hoping to compete a little more directly with Bills counterpart Josh Allen.
In the end, it was a forgettable performance from the sophomore quarterback. Jones completed 22 of 36 passes for just 195 yards and one touchdown and was far from the requisite brilliance needed to keep up with Allen.
Admittedly, Jones is simply the most visible figure of an offense who has struggled on multiple levels (including coaching). There were a number of factors that led to his poor play, but even on plays where he could scramble and create time to throw, Jones’ decision making proved poor.
He was lucky that a possible interception thrown to Bill’s safety Jordan Poyer on the sideline was ultimately ruled incomplete.
New England continues to search for a true offensive identity.
The offensive line did not hold.
It wasn’t an official statistical disaster—the Bills didn’t register a sack until the fourth quarter when the game was nearly out of bounds—but the Patriots’ offensive line had a night to quickly forget alongside Jones.
New England worked in difficult conditions, with fourth string offensive tackle Conor McDermott on the right tackle and Trent Brown (who was battling illness) on the left tackle.
But not even the return of center David Andrews could produce more consistent results. Jones often kept running to avoid a sack (hardly his ideal setup).
An inability to pass protection, somewhat of a theme for much of the 2022 season, resulted in the Patriots going 3-12 on third downs.
The Bills’ offense is a juggernaut.
Conversely, the Bills’ offense went 9-15 on third and was 3-3 in the red zone. While the Patriots were able to punt Buffalo in multiple games for the first time (three punts at the end of the game), this did not change the outcome as the Bills remained noticeably dominant.
Buffalo’s efficiency enabled his offense to easily hold the ball for much of the game. The Bills emerged as clear victors in possession time: 37:35 to 21:52 by the Patriots.
In the passing game, the New England defensive backs could not keep up with the opposing receivers. Stefon Diggs in particular was a force. He caught seven of nine targets for 92 yards receiving and a touchdown.
And even if the Patriots could explain everyone else, there was still Allen himself. The fantastically talented quarterback shrugged off linebacker Mack Wilson’s attempted tackle at third and the goal in the second quarter before rushing a touchdown pass to Gabriel Davis on a very difficult pitch.
Josh Uche performed again.
As it came down to a loss, pass rusher Josh Uche continued what was an excellent recent run.
Since October 30, Uche has posted seven sacks in five games. He recorded two against Allen on Thursday. Although Bill’s offensive tackle Dion Dawkins started was out, Uche’s performance should not be discounted.
The choice for the second round of 2020 was fixed last month, which even forced a turnover against the bills in the second quarter.
Uche’s production could prove vital to New England throughout the playoff chase.
Marcus Jones stays electric with the ball in his hands.
Aside from some characteristically impressive Rhamondre Stevenson runs, the Patriots’ only bright spot on offense on Thursday came from a defensive player.
Marcus Jones, whose punt return against the Jets a few weeks ago helped propel New England to a win, was another spark on Thursday. Surprisingly thrust into the offense on the Patriots’ second drive, Jones lined up in the slot and caught a pass near the line of scrimmage.
The 24-year-old sprinted into the open field and was not caught. His 48-yard touchdown gave the Patriots their only lead all night.
Whether Jones can be consistently involved in the offense remains to be seen, but his explosiveness was a welcome sight for a unit that bogged down too often.
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