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Top 3 things we learned from Bills-Patriots

Posted Dec 3, 2017

The Bills had to take a handful of injuries along with the loss to the Patriots. The offense has to find some answers and the defense has to eliminate big run plays again.


1 – Taylor leads Bills injury list
It was just a costly loss for the Bills on Sunday against the Patriots, Buffalo also lost their starting quarterback, starting defensive end and two of their top three cornerbacks to injury in the game.

Tyrod Taylor, Shaq Lawson, Leonard Johnson and Tre’Davious White all left the game and did not return.

Taylor was injured on the first play of the game, but completed the first drive before getting checked on the sidelines by the team’s medical staff. He never missed a play and continued until he aggravated his knee injury again and was subsequently carted off to the locker room with about 13 minutes to play in the game.

“Tyrod took a hit early in the game there and you saw him come out later in the game and he was getting evaluated,” said head coach Sean McDermott. “That remains the case.”

Taylor’s teammates respected the fact that their quarterback was willing to play hurt.

"He was in pain, you could see it in his facial expressions," said LeSean McCoy. "He was hurt, it shows he’s a true warrior. I think he came out once the game got out of reach. He played the whole game banged up, hurt. He didn’t complain about it. He still ran when he needed to. He’s tough. He’s a guy from Hampton, those guys are built over there. I wouldn’t expect anything less from him.”

When asked why Taylor did not come out after initially sustaining the injury McDermott said Taylor felt he could continue playing. As for whether he’ll be the starting quarterback against the Colts this Sunday, Buffalo’s head coach wants to know more about Taylor’s injury first.

“I’m not going to get into next week until I know more medically at this point,” McDermott said.

Shaq Lawson and Leonard Johnson both left the game with injuries in the second half and did not return. Lawson was injured on a goal line play in the third quarter and limped off. He was later carted off with what was diagnosed as an ankle injury.

Johnson sustained a knee injury a short time later when a Patriots player tried to cut him. The team’s nickel corner said he was scheduled for an MRI Sunday evening.

Tre’Davious White’s injury was the most unfortunate of the bunch. After making an interception on a Tom Brady pass intended for Rob Gronkowski in the fourth quarter, White, while out of bounds and on the ground, was hit in the back of the head by Gronkowski, who drove his forearm and his full body weight into White, driving his head into the ground.

White left the game and is now in the concussion protocol.

2 – Offense struggles to produce
In a game where the defense held the Bills in the game, becoming the first team this season to hold the Patriots to fewer than 13 points at halftime, Buffalo’s offense was stuck in neutral.

Their most promising drive was their opening possession when they drove 66 yards on 13 plays and appeared to have the Patriots defense on their heels. Unfortunately, on 1st-and-goal from the six-yard line, Tyrod Taylor threw an interception on a pass intended for LeSean McCoy.

After that Buffalo did not have a drive that produced more than 45 yards until the fourth quarter when the game had largely been decided.

Buffalo had just two possessions that reached the red zone and only three points coming off a Stephen Hauschka field goal from 49 yards away in the first half.

“We’ve got to do a better job,” said McDermott. “To score only three points, we’ve got to do a better job. I’m not going to sugar coat that at all. We’ve got to score more than three points and put the defense under pressure. I thought we had a good first drive and then we gave the ball up and you can’t do that in the NFL, particularly in the red zone. To come away with no points, although it was a good drive, it wasn’t good enough.”

Buffalo had just 85 yards passing in the game and just 26 minutes of possession time, a full two minutes below their season average.

“We had opportunities to capitalize on them earlier in the game,” said LeSean McCoy. “We had a turnover that hurt us. We can’t do that against the Patriots. Then we drive again and we missed that pass from Joe (Webb) on that trick play. Those two plays would’ve been big for us.”

“When the defense was holding them to three points we needed to get seven on the board at some point and we just couldn’t get it done,” said Eric Wood.

Buffalo’s three points scored matches a season low from Week 2 at Carolina where they lost 9-3.

3 – Run ‘D’ hurt by big plays
The Bills run defense was holding its own at the outset of the game with the Patriots, but a pair of big run plays helped to put New England in scoring territory early.

The first was a 44-yard run by Dion Lewis, a play in which there were three missed tackles, allowing the Patriots back to break into the secondary and take off down the sideline. Fortunately, the defense was able to hold New England to a field goal.

The second instance came on a Rex Burkhead run that went 31 yards deep into Bills territory. Again, the defense was able to hold. But there were a few other run plays that Lewis and Burkhead were able to break off that moved the sticks and in one instance score.

Burkhead broke through a pair of tackles at the second level and find his way to the end zone on a 14-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to put the game away (23-3).

“There were a lot of things that happened out there defensively, whether we weren’t in the right gap, we got the call and lined up wrong,” said Jordan Poyer. “We’ll look at the tape and take the positives and negatives.”

By game’s end the Patriots had rushed for 191 yards and averaged 5.5 yards per carry.

“We had our opportunities, we just didn’t take advantage of them,” said Lorenzo Alexander. “Taking the ball away, getting off the field on third down and obviously (allowing points) in the red zone. Obviously with a team like that you’ve got to be able to do those things.”