1. Defense makes Tom Brady look ordinary
Buffalo's defense won't get any credit for scoring points, nor will it be credited with winning the game. But there is no question Leslie Frazier's unit did its best to save the game on Sunday.
"I thought our defense gave us a chance to win the game," said head coach Sean McDermott. "I appreciate their effort. It was a good plan and that was a good offense."
The Bills held Tom Brady to 18-39 passing for 150 yards and an interception, his first of the season. His passer rating was 45.9. He also averaged just 3.8 yards per pass attempt, less than half his season average (8.59). It also marked the lowest yards per attempt in a win in his career according to ESPN Stats.
In total, the Bills defense forced New England's offense three-and-out on seven of their 12 possessions before the final kneel downs on their 13th series. But their effort rang hollow for them after the game.
"We don't take pride in moral victories," said Tre'Davious White, who had four tackles in the game. "Obviously (Brady) made a few more plays than we did to stop him. He put his team in a position to win and we had to get a few more three and outs and that would've helped our offense out more."
In the first half, Buffalo forced New England three-and-out after Josh Allen's second interception and followed that up by picking Tom Brady off in the end zone to stonewall a long 16-play drive by the Patriots and keep Buffalo within striking distance on the scoreboard.
"They motioned the guy over quick snap. We feel like we have a chance anytime we can get Tom outside the pocket. My guy was in the flat and I had him blanketed. I knew he wasn't going to throw to him. I saw his eyes going back inside, so I just tried to come off and make a play," said Micah Hyde. "It was a big play. We preach that a lot getting red zone takeaways and we were able to do that."
In the end, the Bills held the league's second-highest scoring offense to 16 points and 224 total yards.
2. Josh Allen in concussion protocol
It was a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit on a scrambling Josh Allen by Patriots safety Jonathan Jones that knocked Buffalo's quarterback out of the game early in the fourth quarter.
"He's in the (concussion) protocol at this point," said McDermott of Allen.
Jones was flagged for unnecessary roughness on the hit, that under league rules is subject to ejection.
Senior Vice President of Officiating, Al Riveron, said in their review of the hit that it did not meet the criteria fitting of an ejection.
"We looked at it and in this situation, we didn't feel that that contact rose to the level of an ejection," said Riveron. "The player actually turns. Obviously, there is helmet contact, but we have standards for an ejection, and this did not rise to that standard; therefore, we did not eject him. There was a foul called and obviously the penalty stood, but we did not feel this contact rose to that level."
Bills head coach Sean McDermott was looking for answers from the officials on the field as to why an ejection was not made.
"I asked for an explanation and I thought he should've been thrown out," McDermott said. "Other than that I'm not going to get into that at all. That's for the league to get into.
"There's no room in football for that. It's a shame to see a player like Josh or any player for that matter go down on a hit like that."
Buffalo finished the game with Matt Barkley at quarterback, who moved the offense, but couldn't quite cash in with points at the end of drives, including a 4th-and-2 at the Patriots two-yard line. But going forward it's clear the offensive players and McDermott are fine going forward with Barkley this week, if Allen is still in the concussion protocol at week's end.
"I'm very confident in Matt Barkley," said McDermott. "He came in last year and did a nice job. You see it every day in practice, so I'm very confident in Matt."
3. Inconsistencies prove costly
Buffalo's offense had a difficult go of it against New England. They proved to be their own biggest hurdle when it came to effectiveness and productivity.
On offense, pre-snap penalties, burning timeouts because they couldn't get plays executed in time, missing targets on pass plays and ill-advised decisions in the pass game all contributed to keeping points off the scoreboard for the Bills.
"We've got to be better," said Cole Beasley. "We've just got to take care of ourselves man. Penalties killed us. Turnovers killed us."
Josh Allen threw two interceptions in the first half and another in the second half. The first interception led to six points for New England, and the third led to a Patriots field goal.
Allen also took the Bills out of field goal range when he took a sack on a 3rd-and-9 at the Patriots' 35-yard line. Buffalo's quarterback additionally took a sack on a drive at the end of the first half on a third down turning what would've been a 44-yard field goal attempt into a 49-yard attempt that Stephen Hauschka hooked wide left.
"He didn't take what the defense was giving him and he's got to learn from that," said McDermott of Allen's decision making. "So we'll continue to drill that home and I think you saw some of that when we came out and moved the ball on the first drive of the second half. So we've got to learn from that."
Buffalo committed eight penalties for 76 yards with six coming on offense, and there were three others that were offsetting that did not count toward that total.
"We just shot ourselves in the foot a few times and we've just got to grow from it," said Jon Feliciano.
Still, Buffalo had a shot at the win late in the game but facing a 4th-and-2 at the Patriots' two-yard line they couldn't convert.
"We had a man play on the back side and they had three guys over there and a fade to Zay, so just got to make that play," said Matt Barkley. "Where we had the ball at the end of the game. It's tough. This one is tough."
It was hard for the men on Buffalo's offense not to feel like they let New England off the hook.
"In the first half we were moving the ball," said Beasley. "We knew we could move it on them. It comes down to taking care of it. We didn't take care of it well enough. If we just take care of the ball we would've been right where we wanted."
Special teams also had a breakdown in the game. They didn't adjust their protection on a punt in the first quarter when the Patriots brought their jammers inside to rush and Corey Bojorquez had his punt blocked and returned for a touchdown. Six points proved to be the difference in the game.