There’s an old saying in sports:
I’m blind, I’m deaf, I wanna be a ref.
In a heated AFC East contest, referee woes overshadowed a tight defensive chess match, as the New England Patriots held on to defeat the Buffalo Bills, 20-13 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.
Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor struggled, passing for 20/36 and 233 yards, but no touchdowns. Bills running back LeSean McCoy ran for 82 yards and the lone Buffalo touchdown, while Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore had an interception.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady finished 20/39 for 277 yards and a touchdown and an interception. Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola filled some big shoes with 9 catches for 117 yards, while Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was shadowed all night and plagued with drops, with just 2 catches for 37 yards.
The Bills were in the game for the entire contest, giving Brady and the Patriots offense all they could handle. However, like many Bills-Patriots games, it ended with the same result: another Buffalo loss at the hands of Brady.
Here are some observations from this game:
- THIS was the defense that fans were dreaming of when Rex Ryan was hired. Buffalo held New England to just 20 points, their lowest output of 2015. The Bills were 5-0 when allowing less than 24 points in a game. Gilmore was good for most of the game, while fans never heard much from rookie sensation Ronald Darby. That was because Darby was solid in coverage for most of this game, and wasn’t picked on much by Brady. Ryan mixed several zone blitz looks at Brady and the banged-up offense, resulting in more than ten hits on Brady, as well as a sack Bills linebacker Manny Lawson, and NO roughing the passer calls, which frustrated Brady even more. The defense made Brady throw many passes into the ground to avoid more contact, but allowed two touchdowns on missed tackles from Bills safeties Corey Graham and Duke Williams. Williams’ miss was awful, he whiffed harder than he did in slipping into DMs.
- The offensive playcalling was… bad. Certain run calls were easily predictable, and the passing game never got into a rhythm. Taylor struggled mightily, while McCoy and Bills rookie Karlos Williams kept taking losses on run plays. McCoy still had a good game, and chipped in a lot in the passing game. Williams, however, struggled for the first time in his young career, and also failed to score a touchdown for the first time in his career.
- Bills fans, I implore you, do not start harping on Bills kicker Dan Carpenter and safety Leodis McKelvin. They know they made critical mistakes. Carpenter missed a field goal with a minute left, and the Patriots scored a touchdown to end the half. McKelvin had his old demon return to haunt him again. McKelvin, as many a Bills fan knows, fumbled a kickoff that gave Brady a short field to beat Buffalo back in 2009. Six years later, it happened again. McKelvin lost the ball on a punt return and the Patriots took the lead and eventually held on to win. I know you’re mad, Bills fans, but keep it classy, please.
- Buffalo made it out of a tough AFC East stretch with a 2-1 record and some very good football overall. Good new for the Bills after this loss, AFC Wild Card race coming down to eight teams with either a 5-5 or 4-6 record for a wild card spot. While the Steelers (6-4) should pull away, the Bills remain in control of their destiny: they play three of those eight teams remaining alive for the sixth seed.
- I struggled with either putting this first or last. The refs were laughable. The head linesman screwed up 3 play calls to end the game (spot of Woods catch, Watkins no catch, Watkins “in bounds). Then there was the Patriots not getting at least a 50+ yard play to Danny Amendola. So, Bills fans, don’t say it was a conspiracy this time. There were bad calls all around. From the big play negated for New England, to several missed pass interference calls on both teams and how the game ended, the NFL probably couldn’t help but cringe at how this officiating crew did. This crew better be ready for an early end of their year, because there is no way they get out of this and get a playoff game.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Bills (5-5, 3-2 AFC East) can’t hang their heads for too long, as they travel to vaunted Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Kansas City Chiefs (5-5, 2-1 AFC West).
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