With a competent offense, the New England Patriots likely would have won Sunday in their Week 4 matchup with the Buffalo Bills.
The Patriots’ defense certainly wasn’t perfect, but they allowed just 16 points and 378 yards while losing the time of possession battle 36:11 to 23:49. The Patriots’ defense let up some long drives, but their offense only had one drive over four minutes. The Patriots averaged 2:35 per offensive drive, while the Bills averaged 4:01.
This likely will be a forgotten game in the annals of Patriots history. Quarterback Tom Brady returned from his four-game suspension at midnight, and all should return to normal in Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns.
Here are our takeaways from the passing game:
Logan Ryan: 9-13, 70 yards
Patrick Chung: 2-4, 27 yards
Dont’a Hightower: 4-4, 26 yards, TD, PBU
Jamie Collins: 3-3, 26 yards
Devin McCourty: 1-1, 14 yards
Justin Coleman: 1-2, 11 yards
Malcolm Butler: 1-4, 9 yards
— The Patriots stayed in zone coverage for much of the game to prevent Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor from scrambling. Taylor did a nice job of finding pockets in that zone coverage where there were no Patriots defenders. Many times it’s difficult to assign blame in zone coverage, which is why the numbers above don’t add up to Taylor’s 246 passing yards.
— Logan Ryan’s performance has drawn the ire of many Patriots fans because he was targeted early and often. Overall, he gave up 5.4 yards per passing attempt thrown his way. No cornerback wants to give up nine catches, but most of them were short completions Sunday. Some fans don’t seem to understand that for most passing completions, there’s a cornerback in coverage. Butler and Ryan are good at usually preventing nearly as many receptions as they allow.
— Hightower didn’t appear 100-percent recovered from the knee injury he suffered in Week 1. He looked a step slow.
— Butler had a good day at the office, allowing just one catch.
Chris Long: four hurries (four pressures)
Jabaal Sheard: sack, hurry (two pressures)
Alan Branch: sack, hurry (two pressures)
Trey Flowers: QB hit, two hurries (three pressures)
Dont’a Hightower: QB hit
Malcom Brown: QB hit
Logan Ryan: hurry
Jamie Collins: hurry
— The Patriots also didn’t pin their ears back and rush the passer because they didn’t want to leave open rushing lanes for Taylor. Because there was little pressure, the Patriots’ defensive backs had to stay in coverage for longer than usual.
— Neither sack was traditional. Sheard pushed Taylor out of bounds, and the Bills’ QB got back to the line of scrimmage on Branch’s.
Nate Solder: QB hit, four hurries (five hurries)
Shaq Mason: QB hit, hurry (two hurries)
Marcus Cannon: QB hit, hurry (two hurries)
Jacoby Brissett: sack
LeGarrette Blount: QB hit
David Andrews: QB hit
Joe Thuney: hurry
— When the Patriots were forced to pass in the second half, rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett started to get annihilated. There was a stretch early in the second half when he was pressured on six of seven passing attempts.
— Guard Jonathan Cooper, who injured his foot on the second day of training camp, continues to sit out. He’s been practicing all season, however, so one would presume he’s close to returning. He could help out at right guard.
2. Wide to Julian Edelman
3. Drop by Brandon Bolden
4. Pass broken up
5. Overthrow to Danny Amendola
6. Pass broken up
7. Wide to Edelman
8. Overthrow/mistimed jump to/by Chris Hogan
9. Pass broken up
10. Pass broken up
— That Brissett threw four passes that were broken up says he was throwing into tight coverage too frequently.
— Bolden, who suffered a knee injury, dropped a likely touchdown.
— It wasn’t a great performance by Brissett, but he also didn’t make any ghastly errors in the passing game. He did lose a fumble, however.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images