If there’s anything we know about the 2021 New England Patriots, it’s that they aren’t built to play from behind.
By all accounts, this group’s success is contingent on its running game, playing sound defense and avoiding back-breaking mistakes.
On Sunday against Buffalo, however, that blueprint was nowhere to be found and the Pats were forced to play catch up en route to a hard-fought defeat.
While the rushing attack, led by a motivated Damien Harris, was efficient, the Patriots’ third down offense was an atrocity. The defense, meanwhile, held up as long as it could, but had zero answers for Josh Allen.
As for New England’s passing game, well, you saw what we saw. With Nelson Agholor out and Kendrick Bourne clearly unable to play a full complement of snaps, Mac Jones had another rough day at the office.
With that said, this loss isn’t on Jones. In a vacuum, the game came down to three costly first half gaffes by his teammates.
3 first half mistakes that doomed Patriots against Bills
3. Trent Brown unsportsmanlike conduct penalty
The only reason this sequence doesn’t rank higher on this list is because it came with the Patriots already down 17-7.
At the same time, though, it was still a killer penalty.
On a 2nd and 3 late in the second quarter, Trent Brown was called for an entirely needless unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The towering right tackle simply lost his cool jawing back and forth with a Bills DL in between snaps.
A 2nd and 3 near midfield turned into a 2nd and 18 at the Pats’ own 32. After two straight incompletions, they were forced to punt, thus squandering an opportunity to chip away at Buffalo’s lead before halftime.
This marks the second straight week of the Patriots shooting themselves in the foot by failing to control their emotions.
It’s the last thing you’d expect from a Belichick-coached group, but the six-time champ needs to nip this in the bud as soon as possible because New England’s season will end a lot sooner than expected if these mistakes linger.