No Gilmore, no Byrd, a rookie QB, and a rookie head coach: all of these key ingredients in a recipe for disaster against the Belichickian Brady Bunch. Before the game started I fully expected a blowout. I envisioned Brady going for 400 yards, taking advantage of the likes of Leodis McKelvin and Justin Rogers and Ron Brooks and Aaron Williams and Nickell Robey and Da’Norris Searcy and I think you get the picture. I envisioned Manuel being overwhelmed by whatever Belichick was to throw his way. I truly believed that picking Pats(-10) was free money. And boy was I wrong. But boy did it still suck…
Let’s break this down with a little good/bad shall we?
GOOD: Brady on 1st and 2nd downs: 16-35, 154 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT
BAD: Brady on 3rd down: 13-17, 134 yards, 2 TDs, 0 picks.
- I think you have to impressed with the Bills defense in this game, especially their pass defense. With their two best defensive backs out of the game, we were able to keep Brady at a very human-like level. However, we constantly got burned on 3rd down plays. I don’t know the win percentage of teams that allow their opponents to convert 55% on third downs, but I’m guessing it’s not great. Something to definitely work on in the following weeks.
GOOD: 3 turnovers forced, 1 returned for a TD
BAD: 2 turnovers committed, both resulting in Patriot TDs
- Once again, high praise for the defense. Great goal line stand on the Brady fumble, heads up INT by Rogers, and a great return for a TD by Searcy. It was also nice to see Manuel not turn the ball over in his debut. HOWEVER, the two fumbles of our own absolutely killed us. The Pats only two touchdowns of the day came on the drives following those turnovers: a 16 yard drive and a 32 yard drive, both culminating in Edelman TDs. You cannot give Tom Brady the ball inside the 35 and expect good things to happen. If we are able to hold onto those balls it is a completely different game.
GOOD: Fred Jackson
BAD: CJ Spiller
- Fred Jackson looked like the better back on the field this afternoon. Jackson led the team in rushing and receiving yards, averaging 5.2 yards on the ground and 10.3 yards through the air. Even the shoestring catch he made that eventually got called back was impressive. Spiller only managed 41 yards on 17 carries (2.4) and 14 yards on 5 catches (2.8). And I don’t think I need to state again how devastating that fumble was early in the game. To Spiller’s credit, it did not appear the line was creating very many lanes for him to run through, but still, after what he accomplished last season I was definitely expecting more, and still am expecting more in the weeks to come.
GOOD: EJ Manuel
BAD: EJ Manuel
- In a rookie-like fashion, Manuel had both good and bad plays throughout the game. The TD to Woods: awesome. The drive that culminated in the TD to Stevie: awesome. However outside of those two drives our offense was completely stagnant. Granted the two drives that ended with fumbles were not his fault, we did punt the ball 9 times, and some of that has to be on the QB. I still feel optimistic about EJ, but it will be interesting to see how he progresses in the coming weeks.
GOOD: Doug Marrone and the coaching staff
BAD: Doug Marrone and the coaching staff
- For the majority of the game, I thought the game was coached well. It looked like our players were well-prepared, and had a real passion and fire inside them. The staff did a great job to get them up for this game, and I really liked to see that. However, here a few issues I had:
- 10 penalties for 75 yards. I know Marrone and the rest of the coaches can’t eliminate all of the penalties. However, there were at least 2 instances where we had 12 guys on the field on defense. That seems like more than just a player issue to me. Second, there were multiple times where the defense jumped offsides. The coaches have to install more discipline in their players than that. Once again, not all on Marrone and Pettine and Hackett, but definitely something that they can work on eliminating.
- The first challenge of Marrone’s career: what was that? Not only was Ridley down, but New England also gained the ball back anyway. I can see trying to get an early spark in your team with a turnover, but that was not only a waste of a challenge but also a waste of a timeout.
- The no huddle offense in the 4th quarter: I get it, you’re a high tempo team. However, after that first possession to open the half, our offense had struggled (3 possessions, 15 plays, 43 yards, 3 punts). So when you get the ball back with 5:51 to go with a 1-pt lead, it seems to me like it’s at that point that you slow the game down. But instead we stuck with the no huddle, went 3 plays for 4 yards and only took 1:11 off the clock, leaving Brady and co. with plenty of time to march down for the game winning score.
- The final play of the game: again, what the hell was that? I understand the statistical improbability of scoring in that situation. But honestly, come on. Maybe throw it more than 5 yards to your running back?
All in all, I think as a fan you should be optimistic about the outcome today. However, as a fan myself, I know that optimism doesn’t do much to lessen the blow of this loss. It hurt just as bad seeing that field goal split the uprights as any other loss that I’ve watched. But life goes on. Let’s beat the Panthers. As the great Joe Sarro tweeted, “Can’t go 15-1 without one loss.”