One quarter of the way through this season, Buffalo sits at a comfortable 3-1. Not to sound greedy, but a 4-0 start would have been better. As crazy as it sounds, that is not an unorthodox statement because Buffalo could have been 4-0. The Bills ended up dropping a tough home game to the Patriots with a final score of 16-10. Let’s take a look at what went wrong for Buffalo.
The Hole Was Dug Early
The heading says it all, Buffalo put themselves behind the eight ball early. An interception put the Patriots in great field position to score their only offensive touchdown of the game. Later in the first half, a blocked punt led to New England’s second and last touchdown. After a missed extra point by Stephen Gostowski, Buffalo was down 13-0 before half.
No Sign Of Josh
If you told me Buffalo replaced normal Josh Allen with a less athletic clone for this game, I would believe you. Allen looked horrendous and clearly cracked under the pressure of a big game. It is understandable, kind of. You’re at home playing the reigning Super Bowl champs and a defense that has not allowed a touchdown yet. That is pretty intimidating when you add in that the fans are counting on you to lead them to a 4-0 start.
Allen looked like he was trying way too hard to get this team a lead early. He took shot play after shot play with no success. Buffalo’s offense as been beautifully systematic in 2019 but Allen virtually had no rhythm in this game.
Allen, who has recently learned the art of knowing when and when not to scramble, looked confused against this defense. It almost feels like the coaching staff told Allen not to scramble because I have never seen Allen so lazy in the pocket.
Giving The Game Away
All props to the Patriots’ fantastic defense, but Allen gave the game away. Almost all of his “shot” plays ended up as interceptions, as he threw the same amount of interceptions in this game than he has all season. To put it simply that was not winning football.
Late in the third quarter, Allen fled from a collapsing pocket on third and long in an attempt to pick up the first and was met by Jonathan Jones who decided to ruin the day of all Bills fans. As Allen was already getting wrapped up by Jones’ teammate, Jones went in for the tackle, leading with his head right into the head of Allen. New Era Field suddenly went deafeningly quite as all of Bills Mafia stared at our 6’5″ 238 pound quarterback laying lifeless on the ground.
Allen was able to walk off the field but would not return in a game where we needed him most. Allen has two game-winning drives this season but could do nothing from the medical tent in concussion protocol. It was up to Matt Barkley.
Barkley is a well-liked guy among Bills Mafia and is the best back-up quarterback we have had in a while. In 2018, Barkley led Buffalo to a 41-10 away win against the Jets after only being on the team for a week and a half. We knew what he could do and we believed in him. Barkley looked solid in what was clearly an emotional game for the entire franchise. He threw 9/16 for 127 yards and was oh so close to leading this team to victory.
On what could have been the game-winning drive, a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage resulted in the game-securing interception for the Patriots. Everyone’s heads were hung low not because they lost, but because they know that they should have won.
What We Learned
Our defense is somehow better than it was last year. The defense held Tom Brady and company to less than 250 total yards and only one offensive touchdown. I genuinely think that Buffalo may have kept Brady under wraps the entire game had the Patriots not had excellent starting field position on one of their first drives. Brady has still thrown more interceptions against Buffalo (5) than touchdowns (3) in the Sean McDermott era.
We also learned that although Josh has been much improved this season, he is still not where we need him to be. No one is jumping off the Allen bandwagon but this game was definitely a heat check to say the least.
On To Music City
The Bills go head-to-head against the Tennessee Titans in week five, right before their week six bye. The big question this week will be if Josh Allen plays or if Matt Barkley takes the reigns. As of right now, Allen is in stage four of five in the concussion protocol. Some have wondered how serious Allen’s concussion was, as he has practiced on a limited basis all week. Some are speculating that McDermott may be trying to strategically keep Allen in the protocol to force the Titans to prepare for two different quarterbacks.
We will not know officially who will start under center until Sunday, but if the Bills really thought Allen would not be good to go, they would have signed an additional back-up quarterback by now.
Last season, Buffalo’s defense held Tennessee to only four field goals in a 13-12 win at home. The real problem for this Bills defense will be containing Derrick Henry, who has been an absolute monster since the final stretch of the 2018 season. This will be a great game to watch and this Titans’ defense would certainly be another test for Josh Allen.