FOXBORO – (Staff and Wire Service Report – Special to Digital Sports Desk) – The New England Patriots Patriots looked very much like a team playing without its franchise quarterback and with a rookie third-round draft pick under center in Sunday’s 16-0 shutout loss to the Buffalo Bills. A conservative offensive game plan with Jacoby Brissett running the show and big mistakes in all three phases of the game gave New England not only its first loss of the season, but its first shutout loss in the history of Gillette Stadium and first at home since 1993.
“Well obviously we didn’t do much of anything well enough to win today, so we’ve just got to do a better job, turn the page here. We think we’re a better team than we showed today but we just didn’t do anything well enough today,” Belichick said to open his postgame press conference.
As much as the Patriots previous week’s shutout victory over the Texans on Thursday Night Football was a true team win, including big plays in all three phases, the shutout loss to Buffalo was the exact opposite.
New England took over its first two possessions at its 9 and 14 due to poor decisions/returns by rookie Cyrus Jones. A pair of penalties on Chris Hogan — both holding and pass interference — wiped out a 90-yard Julian Edelman catch-and-run to the Bills 1 on the first offensive play of the day. And defensively the first series saw Tyrod Taylor march the Bills 65 yards in 12 plays to take the 7-0 lead on a 7-yard touchdown pass to LeSean McCoy.
The poor start set the tone and New England just never got to making plays in any area to really be anything more than marginally competitive against a seemingly marginal opponent.
“We didn’t play well on all three sides, we got to play better,” Danny Amendola said on a day when he, Edelman and Hogan were held to a combined one reception on 27 New England pass plays.
But something that is good is the fact the loss was indeed the final game of Tom Brady’s four-game Deflategate suspension. Brady is now allowed to return to Gillette Stadium and resume his normal football activities for the first time in a month as he prepares to return to the game field on Sunday in Cleveland.
No. 12’s absence was something even Bills coach Rex Ryan acknowledged while celebrating his team’s victory over his personnel coaching nemesis.
“I mean it’s satisfying, but let’s face it, they had a player out. This just in, they had a player out and we had our team, so you know, we expected to win,” Ryan said.
While the Bills were celebrating down the tunnel at Gillette, the Patriots were licking their wounds as they prepared for Brady to return after what was still a very impressive three-win month without their quarterback.
“It’s going to be good. He’s our leader and it’s going to be great to have him out there,” Edelman said. “We’re going to have to have a great week of preparation to get back in sync, that’s where it all starts from, going out there and having a good week in practice. We had a good practice this week, we just didn’t turn it on, and like I said, you can’t get behind in the count, especially against a team like that who plays really good defense.”
“He’s a good football player so we’re excited to get Tom back. He’s our leader,” Amendola added.
The Patriots are dealing with a loss for the first time this year, but they’re also dealing with the biggest addition in the NFL as Brady returns to his role atop the New England quarterback depth chart to lead a Patriots team that’s already entrenched atop the AFC East with a month in the books, even after Sunday’s disappointing loss to the Bills.