The word that best describes the Patriots on Sunday was "surgical." The words that spring immediately to mind for Rex Ryan's Bills were "comical" and "dumb."
The Bills, who had played with intelligence, poise and purpose during a four-game winning streak, turned in a sloppy and abysmal performance at New Era Field, losing to their longtime AFC nemesis, 41-25, at New Era Field.
The Pats' superiority was evident almost from the start. The Bills drove to an early field goal, but even on that drive the Bills seemed off-kilter and Taylor was off-target on some big throws. You don't often beat Tom Brady and the Pats with field goals.
That was exactly the case. Brady marched the Pats to TDs on their first two possessions, going 5 for 5 on third downs and finding Chris Hogan, the former Bill, for a 53-yard touchdown late in the first quarter.
The Bills got back within four, 14-10, midway through the second quarter. But Brady kept attacking, hitting Rob Gronkowki with a 53-yard TD laser down the middle to make it 21-10. He drove them to a field goal in the last 39 seconds of the first half, then threw his fourth TD pass early in the third to make it 31-10.
That was pretty much your ballgame. The game was sadly reminiscent of the first game here a year ago, when the Pats took a 24-point lead and kept throwing just the same. Brady was 22 of 33 passing for 315 yards and four TDs. In his five previous trips to Orchard Park, he had averaged 368 yards passing, but I'm guessing he'll take it. The Pats are now 7-1, three games clear of the Bills in the division.
So the Pats more than atoned for a 16-0 loss to the Bills in early October, when Jacoby Brissett was the quarterback. You figured the Bills would be in deep Sunday, especially without LeSean McCoy and three of their top four receivers.
But that didn't excuse their slovenly performance. The big theme in last year's loss to the Pats in Week Two (along with Ryan's defense not showing up) was the Bills' dumb, overemotional play. While they didn't lose their cool this time, they certainly had their share of boneheaded moments.
They wasted a timeout on first-and-goal on their opening drive. The defense got called for 12 men on the field. They held on a kickoff return. Stephon Gilmore let Chris Hogan get away for a couple of third-down catches, one for a 53-yard touchdown.
On a first-and-20 play, safety Robert Blanton got called for holding. First down, Pats. They were whistled for an illegal formation for having men in the backfield, negating a big gain. Two plays later, Walt Powell was guilty of pass interference.
That was only the first half. It didn't get much better. The special teams got back in the act, allowing allowed Danny Amendola to return the second-half kickoff 73 yards. Later, punter Colton Schmidt dropped the snap but somehow managed to run for the first down. Even the good moments were borne of the horrendous.
The defense was guilty of having 12 men on the field, again. Considering the way Brady was playing, it wasn't a bad strategy. Nickell Robey-Coleman was called for unnecessary roughness for hitting Amendola out of bounds -- as in, halfway to Angola.
Gilmore was caught holding in the end zone, their 10th penalty of the day. Later, the Bills drove toward a garbage score and tried a halfback pass by Reggie Bush, who couldn't find anyone open and shoveled it backwards to Taylor, who recovered the fumble.
On the Pats' next drive, rookie Shaq Lawson was so excited about sacking Brady that he got called for roughing the best QB ever later in the possession.
The dumbest thing of all was leaving Tyrod Taylor on the field into the final minutes, when they were down by 24. EJ Manuel didn't come in until there was 2:26 left in the game. The Bills profess to have faith in EJ Manuel as a top backup. Such claims ring hollow when they leave their presumptive franchise QB on the field in a blowout.
Taylor was chased around the pocket all day. He exposes himself to injury all the time. Why leave him out there in a lost cause, especially with so many other offensive players out of action? Why not concede the obvious and preserve him for Seattle? Maybe they wanted to pad Taylor's stats so his performance could seem more effective in retrospect, like last year's one-sided loss to the Pats at home.
Taylor (19 for 38 passing, 183 yards, 48 yards rushing with a TD) is not a franchise quarterback. I know it's an unfair comparison, but the contrast could not be sharper when he tries to engage Brady in a shootout. He's good enough against teams with average offenses and backup quarterbacks, but he's over his head against the true franchise QBs.
So the Bills are 4-4, two weeks after looking like a playoff contender. There's still a lot of season left, but they're 1-4 in the conference, which makes that .500 record seem a lot worse. Look at it this way: Jacksonville, which is in disarray and has a head coach on the hot seat, is also 1-4 in the AFC.
Now they go to Seattle for a Monday night game, looking to get back over .500. They bounced back from their last two-game losing streak, but it's hard to feel optimistic about their chances after Sunday's debacle.