Monday Night Football was an interesting game as the Pats scraped by with a win against the Bison of Buffalo. It was a low scoring defensive struggle as neither side was able to do much on offense. In the end, the Bills were unable to do enough on offense and now are in a must win mode if they want to make the playoffs.
Defense Finally Playing Like the Hype
Rex Ryan took a top 5 defense and turned it into a mediocre defense. He had lineman dropping into coverage, was not pressuring enough and relying too much on a secondary that outside of three guys, had been horrendous. Starting after the bye, Rex has finally started to tweek his scheme and playcalling and finally the defense is playing like we all expected. They are using a bunch of formations and different pressure concepts which is causing havoc for the QBs. Last night, Tom Brady was frustrated all night as the pressure was getting to him and he was angrily throwing it into the dirt and yelling at the receivers. The Bills shut down the run game and forced Brady to get pass happy and he struggled as he threw one pick and another pick which was waved off by a phantom holding call. Outside of a few busted plays, the defense did its job and kept them in the game.
Where Did the Run Game Go?
The Bills offense has been a surprise all year as a horrible offense last year if finally borderline average. The run game has been a complete reversal than last year as the one-two punch of McCoy and Los has the Bills having one of the top running attacks in the NFL. The Patriots knew this and their number one focus was shutting down the run game and it showed as the Bills were held to under 100 yards. Outside of the TD run McCoy was shut down and Los did nothing either. The Patriots were not fooled by the QB runs either and Tyrod took some big hits on designed keepers that were unwise to begin with. Without the run game, the Bills offense was shut down and the Patriots knew this.
The best player on the field last night was Sammy Watkins. However, for some reason, Tyrod Taylor was intimidated by Malcolm Butler and avoided him in the 1st half. Watkins ended up with 3 catches for 39 yards on six targets but considering the fact he was getting separation on the majority of the plays, he should have been the guy, not Chris Hogan. The failure to get Watkins involved from the get go was a huge reason why the offense in general struggled.
For the passing game, it was a day to forget as Tyrod Taylor was 20-36 for 233 yards and no touchdowns. He was unable to get a rhythm all game and was missing throws he usually makes and his deep throws were horrible. It was an odd night as the deep ball was the best thing about him and tonight he was just late on them. The Patriots defense was all too happy to let the short passes be completed because immediately they had two or three guys swarm around to stop the play. It was just a horrible night for Tyrod as he was getting out of the pocket too early and ran into a few tackles. He took a hit late in the game and it appeared halfway through the 4th quarter he was hurt and it was affecting his play. There must have been another injury he’s still recovering from because he was off the whole game.
The Incompetence of Refs and Conclusion
In conclusion, the Bills defense played lights out and kept them in the game. The offense however struggled to get anything going and the stubbornness of Rex kept an injured player at QB who was visibly in pain and was off. The Bills now have to bounce back as their next two games are against the Chiefs and Texans, both competing with them for the wildcard and are must wins if the Bills make the playoffs. This was a step in the right direction on defense but the Bills just need to get more creative on offense against teams not named the Dolphins.
Finally, the biggest disgrace last night was the officiating which made ACC refs look competent. They didn’t know what they were doing and on some plays were extremely confused what was going on. On one play Brady threw to Amendola who had enough wide open space to get a TD or at least get close enough but the refs called it dead because they thought Brady was out of bounds, and after a discussion gave the Patriots a 14 yard completion instead of the touchdown they actually got. That and phantom holds and ineligible downfield when the ball is behind the line of scrimmage is what made the officiating a joke last night. This has a trend all year as the officials have been consistently bad and they get no repercussions. If the NFL wants a more enjoyable product for the fans, get better refs and replace the guys who should have retired years ago.