Patriots Three-and-Out: Week 4 vs. Bills
For the first time in 23 years, the New England Patriots were shut out at home when the Buffalo Bills defeated the Patriots by a score of 16-0. If you were just passing by the channels and happened to stumble upon the game, you would not have thought that the Patriots were among the elite teams in the NFL while the Bills were still trying to figure out who they were as a football team. From start to finish, the Bills outplayed the Patriots in every phase of the game, and it was an uphill battle for New England for all 60 minutes.
1. Tom Brady makes his long awaited return to the Patriots, Monday. Well, for those football analysts and fans of the game that thought that the Patriots were going to welcome Brady back with at best a .500 record, they were terribly mistaken. The Patriots head into week five against Cleveland with a 3-1 record without their franchise quarterback. And welcoming Brady back could not have come at a better time for the Patriots as both backup quarterbacks, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett, are nursing injuries and the Patriots upcoming schedule is going to be a tough one to say the least. Four of the next five games are against teams that have at least a .500 record and will be facing tough defenses.
2. Strengths through first three weeks became weaknesses. The Patriots strolled into Sunday’s game against the Bills with a 3-0 record and it was in part due to stellar play from their offensive line, defense and special teams. On Sunday, all three strengths for the Patriots suddenly became weaknesses. It all started with Cyrus Jones’ indecision with the opening kickoff. Bad kick returns and punt returns left the Patriots with horrible field position and the offense just could not recover from it. Both Jones and Danny Amendola muffed punts but luckily were able to recover the ball in time. The defense saw the return of Dont’a Hightower, but that did not mean much as the Patriots could not seem to figure out a way to tackle running back LeSean McCoy and quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Lastly, the offensive line was solid through the first three weeks with protection for Garoppolo and Brissett as well as helping LeGarrette Blount become the league’s leading rusher. However on Sunday, the offensive line gave up three sacks and only allowed Blount to rush for a mere 54 yards.
3. Uncharacteristic mistakes cost the Patriots. The Patriots are usually one of the most disciplined teams in the league but did not show it on Sunday, accruing nine penalties. There were times when the Patriots had at least 20 yards to gain for a first down due to the plethora of penalties.
Final thoughts: It just was not a good day for the Patriots on Sunday as nothing went their way. Buffalo outplayed the Patriots and it is proven by the score of the game. Nothing went right and it was an uncharacteristic game for New England.
Next week the Patriots travel to Cleveland to play the Browns.
Follow New England Patriots staff writer Michael Perry on Twitter: @TheReal_MPerry