Sean McDermott jumped the gun when he made Nathan Peterman his starting quarterback before the Chargers game. But anyone who watched Tyrod Taylor against the Pats on Sunday could understand why McDermott felt he needed something better at the position.
The Patriots beat the Bills at New Era, 23-3. The final tally makes it look like a blowout, but the game was there for the taking. The Buffalo D played well in the first half, becoming the first team this season to hold New England under 13 points in the first half.
Tom Brady looked ordinary as the defense got early pressure up front and covered well in the secondary. The Pats settled for three first-half field goals and their defense looked vulnerable. They looked like the team that struggled in the first month of the season, not the one that came in with a seven-game win streak.
But Taylor, who left with a knee injury after three quarters, wasn't up to it, as has been the case far too often during his time as the Bills starter. Taylor threw a brutal interception to Eric Lee on first-and-goal from the 6 on the Bills' opening possession of the game.
Rick Dennison decided to go with an empty backfield on first-and-goal. LeSean McCoy was lined up as a receiver and Taylor made the errant throw after failing to slide right in the pocket and getting bumped as he threw.
It didn't get any better from there.
Taylor finished 9 of 18 passing for 65 yards before giving way to Peterman, who threw for 50 garbage yards. Taylor missed some easy throws, took sacks when he wouldn't pull the trigger on others. Over a stretch of six quarters, from the New Orleans fiasco through halftime of Sunday's loss, Taylor was 16-for-31 passing for 104 yards, without a completion over 10 yards.
The Patriots marched 70 yards to a touchdown in 10 plays on their first possession of the third quarter. That makes five straight games in which the Bills have allowed a score on their first defensive possession of the second half.
After that, it was one of those frequent days when the defense spends too much time on the field because Taylor doesn't sustain drives and eventually wears down. The Pats held the ball for 10:36 of the third and the game was not in doubt after they went up, 16-3.
It was only 13 points, but it seemed like 103. At some point, the Pats always come to life on offense. Brady found Rob Gronkowski time and again in the second half and New England kept running, certain they could have their way on the ground.
Gronk wound up with nine catches for 147 yards — seven for 119 after halftime. Always ready to cause a scene, he slammed into the back of Tre'Davious White's head after White picked off a pass in the fourth quarter, riling up the Bills and earning an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
In the end, the Pats rubbed the Bills' faces in the dirt again. They beat you with a hometown star like Gronk, or a guy from your own practice squad, like Eric Lee. The Pats have won six straight in Buffalo and are now 29-4 against the Bills since Brady became the starter.
Oh, the Bills are 6-6 and still in decent position for a playoff spot. They probably need to win three of their last four games to have a shot. But this makes four bad losses in five games. They don't look worthy of a playoff spot, especially at the most vital position.