FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots are lucky that they don’t believe in momentum.
The Patriots were fortunate to come out of Week 16 with a win over the New York Jets despite scoring just 17 points, but their struggling offense wasn’t so lucky Sunday, falling to the Buffalo Bills 17-9 at home. It was the first time the Patriots haven’t scored a touchdown at home since 2003 and their first home loss to the Bills since 2000.
Of course, there are plenty of excuses for the Patriots’ offensive struggles.
They held out four offensive starters — wide receiver Julian Edelman, tight end Rob Gronkowski and offensive linemen Sebastian Vollmer and Dan Connolly — and quarterback Tom Brady came out of the game in the second half, when the unit usually starts to click.
Despite scoring just 26 points over the last two weeks, Brady still has faith in his unit.
“We’re confident,” Brady said. “We have a lot of confidence as an offense. We’ve been able to score points against a lot of good teams, a lot of good defenses. Nothing that we’ve done this past season is going to help in two weeks from now. What’s going to matter is how well we prepare this week and how well we prepare next week and how ready we are to go whenever we play.
“We’ll have a lot of confidence. I’m not worried about us lacking confidence going out there and executing. We’ve got a lot of good players.”
Resting starters certainly didn’t help against the Bills, but plenty of credit must go to Buffalo’s defense, which ranks fourth in total yards against and third in pass defense. Still, Brady didn’t have his two favorite weapons Sunday, and it was obvious that he missed them, going 8-of-16 passing for just 80 yards with a 64.6 rating. The Patriots beat the Bills 37-22 on the road in Week 6, and the result of Sunday’s game could have been much different with Edelman, Gronkowski and a healthy offensive line.
“Hopefully Gronk is ready to roll and Jules is ready to roll, and all the guys up front are ready to roll,” Brady said about the postseason. “That’s important. It’s good when you have your very good football players out there. We had a lot of good players out there today that made some plays. We just didn’t make enough of them today. We’ve got to be able to go out and do it in a couple weeks and make a lot of good plays.”
There’s no reason for Patriots fans to panic after the Week 17 loss, which felt like a glorified preseason game for numerous reasons. The backups saw extensive playing time, and it appeared that neither the Patriots’ offense nor defense were showing their full hand in a game that didn’t matter. Still, the Patriots’ offense must improve over the next week with some self scouting and rest.
Thumbnail photo via Elise Amendola/Associated Press