Next season, the New England Patriots are not going to be able to sell out to stop the run against the Buffalo Bills and might not dare Josh Allen to beat them with passes outside the numbers.
That’s the hope, anyway.
By next season, the Bills will have added at least two more reliable weapons in the passing game. Like another wide receiver with size who gets separation. Like a tight end with a big wing span who can be a security blanket for the quarterback.
Those elements would have made all the difference in Sunday’s 24-12 loss at Gillette Stadium.
Yes, the Bills’ defense gave up 273 rushing yards. Bad. But the defense still held the Pats to 24 points, and it came up with three takeaways. Two of those set up the offense at the Patriots’ 40 and 24.
Actually, the Bills had five scoring chances in the first three quarters and came up with only six points. The five missed chances:
- Jason Croom wasn’t on Allen’s page on a back-shoulder pass from the Pats’ 24.
- Allen misfired on a fourth-and-3 fade for Robert Foster from the Pats’ 24.
- Allen couldn’t connect with Zay Jones on a back-shoulder, third-and-3 pass from the Pats’ 17.
- Logan Thomas couldn’t pull down an on-target pass at the goal line from the Pats’ 23.
- Croom was stripped at the Pats’ 6 after a good run after the catch.
“One of the things we pride ourselves on is points (allowed)," Patriots defensive lineman Trey Flowers told reporters. "Whatever position we get caught in, whether they get down (in the red zone) on a penalty, turnover, long pass or anything. As long as we keep points off the board, we’re that much closer to winning the game.”
If the Pats are going to rely on a ton of man coverage, you have to make them pay.
Against the blitz, Allen was 3 of 11 for 32 yards and an interception. Another blitz play produced a pass interference penalty. Seven of the blitzes came with the Pats up, 24-6. Still, it was largely man coverage on the outside without the blitz, too.
The Bills were 2 of 12 on third downs, but eight of them were third and 6 or less. Allen was 1 of 9 for 6 yards on third down.
The Pats were ripe to be beaten. The Bills were just too young and two receiving weapons shy of a load.