Patriots didn’t deserve to win Sunday vs. Bills, but victory shows how good team really is

Ryan Hannable
September 29, 2019 - 7:23 pm

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — While the Patriots didn’t lose Sunday in Buffalo, it didn’t exactly feel like a win, either.

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The Patriots beat the Bills, 16-10, in one of their uglier wins in recent memory.

“Who wants to start after that riveting performance,” Brady said sarcastically when he stepped to the podium for his postgame press conference.

Brady and the Patriots offense were frustrated by the Bills defense all game long, as it couldn’t get anything going whether it was the running game or the passing game. Overall, it finished with just 224 of net yards, which were the fewest since a 209-yard performance against the Lions last year in Week 3. For more perspective, it was just the fourth time since 2010 the offense finished with fewer than 225 net yards.

And typically the Patriots don’t win these games.

In the Belichick era, when finishing with 225 net yards or less before Sunday, they were 6-13 and just 2-10 on the road. Additionally, it was the 46th time the Patriots scored fewer than 17 points in a game during the Belichick era and prior to Sunday they were 12-33 in those games.

The run game continued to struggle — 74 net yards on 23 carries — and the passing game wasn’t there, either. Brady finished 18-for-39 with 150 yards and an interception for a QB rating of 45.9. It was the sixth-lowest QB rating of Brady’s entire career, and when he finished with a rating of 50 or below, the Patriots were 1-6 before Sunday.

Brady didn’t have much with his wide receivers in the game, as when he targeted Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett he was 9-for-23 for 86 yards.

“Offensively, we struggled,” Brady said. “They force a lot of teams to struggle, and if we’re going to score more points, then we have to do a lot better job than we did today.”

Fortunately, the Patriots have the best defense in the NFL right now and they were able to hold the Bills to 10 points, including stopping them four times on a goal-to-go situation early in the fourth quarter, which pretty much clinched the win.

“Bad ass. That [expletive] is fun,” linebacker Kyle Van Noy said. “That is kind of football, right? Any time you get that, it gives me chills thinking about it because that’s football at its core right there. You know, 1-on-1, they are trying to run the ball, we know they are running the ball and you have to stand up. 

“That [expletive] is fun.”

The Patriots defense also forced four turnovers, which helped when the team was out-gained 375-224 and finished with 11 first downs to the Bills’ 23. It proved the Patriots defense has the ability to win games on its own, something that may not have been the case in recent years.

“That is what it comes down to — doing our job,” safety Duron Harmon said. “Not worrying about the offense, the special teams, just lock in and focus on our job. How can we make it difficult on Buffalo’s offense. … When we do that, we make it tough on teams.”

And while the play on the field wasn’t the prettiest, it still was a telling win for the team early in the season following three blowouts.

“I think it’s a character-building win for us,” special teams captain Matthew Slater said. “You have to learn how to win these types of games. When you’re not playing your best, when the team across from you is not going to quit — they are going to scrap and claw each and every down. I think you have to learn how to win these games if you want to be the type of football team that we hope to be. 

“I think this was a character-building moment for our team.”

While teams who get out-gained by 151 yards and finish with 12 fewer first downs than their opponent typically lose, the Patriots are that good that they can escape with a win and just use the performance to get better.

On to the next one.

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