-The offense opened up with two backs and one tight end, and Sony Michel followed Jacob Johnson for his best run of the day and went 15 yards. Michel still had some contact at the line of scrimmage and unfortunately he would only get more of it as the game continued. The next play from 22 personnel went nowhere.
-Brady's next two passes out of 20 personnel (two backs, no tight ends) both targeted Phillip Dorsett but were well off the mark, with the first going high and the second being nowhere near Dorsett. It was a sputtering start that was a harbinger of things to come for the offense.
-The first defensive third down saw the Patriots break out a quarter personnel package running Cover-0, meaning no high safety, just three corners on their receivers and the other eight defenders crowded at the line of scrimmage. The result was a sack as the Bills protection was completely overwhelmed. How often do you remember seeing Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon all in the offensive backfield on a play? That says it all about their aggressiveness. A Gilmore hold negated what was an impressive play.
-The advantage to playing so much with where the safeties are is that the quarterback can lose track. That's what might've happened on Devin McCourty's interception, though it was a bad throw no matter how you look at it. McCourty was in the middle of the field, reading the quarterback and perfectly jumped the pass.
-Brady's throw to James White on third-and-9 was high even though White was wide open. Again, it was part of a clunky start of the offense and nothing was easy.
-Josh Gordon had the next pass go right through his hands on a slant route. Gordon hasn't been good on those slants all year long, getting alligator arms and anticipating contact. Without those, as well as the trusted comeback routes, the offense is missing some of their bread and butter routes.
-There wasn't many offensive highlights on the day, but Brady's pinpoint pass to White on third-and-5 to set up their only touchdown of the day was a thing of beauty. Who knows what would've happened if White hadn't played in this game.
-Terrence Brooks got some run in this one as part of the quarter package. Seems like he was used as a spy on Allen as the Patriots made sure to not let the quarterback squirt out and pick up yardage.
-The Patriots brought their outside jammer in on the blocked punt, leaving the Buffalo gunner all by himself. A low snap helped give J.C. Jackson that extra split second to block the punt. Matthew Slater's recovery was a highlight play, not just for this season, but for his incredible career.
-Frank Gore's 28-yard run looked like a result of Elandon Roberts picking the wrong hole as Lawrence Guy got turned. There wasn't much of a hole but Gore exploded through it like he's done for over a decade.
-Two-straight runs with fullback Johnson leading the way again went nowhere with no clear hole for Michel to get through. The offensive line is just not getting any push across the board, leaving the backs to pick from a host of unclear options.
-We'll call this a 2-4-5 defensive package but as specified in past AFR's, it features a linebacker, often John Simon, at defensive end and Chung at linebacker. Technically it could be a 3-4 for that reason, but we'll still keep it a nickel package for our purposes. It just shows how good Chung is at playing in the box.
-J.C. Jackson's first interception was aided by a great pressure from Lawrence Guy who simply beat his tackle and forced a back-foot throw by the quarterback.
-The Patriots defense ran another Cover-0 blitz on third-and-6 in the second quarter, and there was a receiver open but just not enough time for Allen to find him. Better, more experienced quarterbacks might be able to decipher who's open more quickly but the chaos of the incoming pressure can be a lot to deal with as well. It will be interesting to see how much they continue this, especially against the better QBs.
-Sony Michel was hit by two guys before the line of scrimmage on a carry from the Pats own five-yard-line. The offensive line is just a mess trying to sort things out right now. The pass protection is actually okay, but until they start making yards on early downs they're going to continue to go three-and-out a lot.
-Some signs of life for the run game in the second quarter as Michel had runs of nine and six yards on a mid-quarter drive. These are the plays they'll have to build off of because they are capable of making positive yardage.
-The play action was just not effective in this game as Buffalo wasn't biting on what has been one of the Patriots go-to chain movers. This one resulted in an intentional grounding.
-Would've loved to see Michel get into the end zone on 2nd-and-goal as it was well-blocked and only left him vs. Jordan Poyer at the one-yard-line. Poyer won.
-Brady shouldn't have thrown the interception ball, but credit to Micah Hyde who read Brady's eyes and left Jakobi Meyers to pick it off, making an athletic play on the ball.
-The Bills came out in the second half with a concerted effort to make quick throws. Allen seemed to know exactly where he wanted to go with the ball and the Bills moved the ball the best they had all game. This could be a formula for success for other teams.
-The Patriots defense hasn't been tested much this season yet, but the goal line stand and stop on third down was a thing of beauty and the kind of play that will bring more confidence to the defense. The interior was immovable while John Simon did a great job shedding a block with his outside shoulder and getting down the line to pull the ball carrier back. Allen did get in the next play, going over the top, but even then it was close and the ball was punched out of his hands.
-Michel might've had a long gain on a third-quarter draw but Joe Thuney ran right by a Bills defender who made the tackle. This seems to be how it's going for the o-line right now, each taking turns missing blocks. Once they get on the same page the whole offense will look a lot better.
-Michael Bennett has been quiet early on in the season, but effective in small doses as he was on J.C. Jackson's second interception. Bennett squeezed through his blocker and forced Allen to attempt a throw on the run that was picked. Bennett is battling a shoulder injury as well, and should see an increased role as the season progresses. Part of the issue is that two-gapping isn't his thing and it limits how much that can use him in certain packages.
-Josh Gordon's 31-yard crosser was a huge play and one that was a borderline pick play by Matt Lacosse. The Patriots have a made a living off those kind of plays and this one came at a critical moment.
-Karras and Cannon got blown up right off the snap on Sony Michel's carry after Gordon's play. It's just hard to expect Michel to do much when guys are on top of him immediately.
-I went through the Jonathan Jones hit on Josh Allen numerous times from all angles and while it has to be flagged I don't see it as an ejection play. Jones is delivering a hit, not a tackle but it's fast football play where he's almost bracing for the oncoming train as much as he's delivering a hit. It's one of those things you hate to see but with huge men running at full speed with pads on it's bound to happen.
-The double pass was a great call for the Bills but was still well-defended by Jason McCourty. Too bad Van Noy picked up a penalty that cost the Pats anyway. Those are the kind of fearless plays you need to beat the Patriots.
-The goal line stand was the sequence of the game for the Patriots with a great tackle by Gilmore on second down, great penetration by Guy, Butler and Shelton on third down, and terrific coverage by Jason McCourty on fourth down. With their backs against the wall, hanging onto the lead by a thread, the defense came through.
-It was remarkable how off the mark the majority of Brady's passes to Dorsett were in this game. After being so reliable the first few weeks, Dorsett was a non-factor in this game and looked like he was on a different page than Brady.
-Again the Pats had nothing going and Jake Bailey's punt out of the end zone helped gain some field position back. Bailey was absolutely huge in this game.
-With a chance to put a drive together and put the game away late in the fourth two of Brady's passes were thrown purposely in the dirt, resulting in another three-and-out. Those just show how out of sync the offense was, even in crunch time when they've had a chance to adjust to what the defense has been doing. Their next drive showed brief signs of life in the run game but again fizzled on a bad third-down slant to Gordon.
-The 2-3-6 with Butler and Bennett up front was the game-ending package and it makes a lot of sense across the board. It's their best pass rushers, and most athletic second- and third-level defenders. They did a good job containing Matt Barkley and forcing the game-ending interception. Michael Bennett took three blockers and it left Kyle Van Noy unblocked to get the forced fumble that Collins caught. Again, this was a sequence the defense can take pride in and build off of.
- 21 - 18 snaps
- 22 - three snaps
- 20 - seven snaps
- 10 - six snaps
- 11 - 27 snaps
- 2-4-5 - 41 snaps
- 1-3-7 - two snaps
- 3-4 - 12 snaps
- 1-4-6 - 12 snaps
- Goal line - three snaps
- 2-3-6 - seven snaps