September 25, 2017

Gut Check – Game One vs. Bills

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
September 15, 2009

Well, after the excitement of New England’s rather ridiculous, quite undeserved 25-24 win, it’s time to reflect on a past season opener with Buffalo: the Patriots’ narrow 19-17 victory in 2006.

That contest revealed a depleted receiving corps. Was last night’s game (ingredients: 90 percent horse dollop, 10 percent pluck) a bad omen?

We’ll get a better idea next week against the Jets. In the meantime, some quick thoughts.

Soft Serve, Crunchy Center: New England looked less than tough throughout. Failed short yardage plays on offense and defense. Pressure allowed on Tom Brady. Pressure lacking on Bills quarterback Trent Edwards (at least until he had to pass). The Bills looked better overall and should have won. In fact, had Pats prayer-answerer Leodis McKelvin taken a knee instead of fumbling the kickoff, they would have. Kudos, then, to Brandon Meriweather and Pierre Woods for ripping the ball free. Nice, Pulp-Fiction-style adrenaline shot, there.

Come What Mayo: As of this writing, all we know is that linebacker Jerod Mayo left the game in the first half. I’ll say no more about Pats play callers and Game One knee injuries.

Brady In Red: Great to see the old school unis, but let’s not make a habit of it. (Bad memories, people.) Not so great watching Brady lacking rhythm early. Solid overall (39 of 53 for 378 yards and two game-winning TDs), here’s hoping his fourth quarter momentum continues next week.

The Big Schobel: Bills defensive end Aaron Schobel made a big impact (a few, actually), sacking Brady once and returning a leaping interception for a touchdown. He did not make Pats tackle Matt Light look good, at all.

So Angry I Could Screen: Bills running back Fred Jackson had five receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown. Oh, screen pass. How ugly you are when the opponent utilizes you.

Let’s end on a good note (make it two):

How LoMo Can You GoGo?: Yes, Laurence Maroney only had 10 rushes for 32 yards, but when he got room to go, he went, looking ready and able.

It’s All About The Benjamin: If you heard that Randy Moss and Wes Welker had 12 catches each, who would you figure scored twice in the final 3:30? Would you guess tight end Benjamin Watson?

Nope. Me neither.

Call this the first of many roller coaster rides. Just like a child, we want to go again.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]


  1. Yeah this game was more like the ’04 Pats than the ’07 Pats. Upside: SB victory that year. Downside: they gave us a heart-attack each week.

    • The ’04 team was pretty dominant. I think it was the ’03 team that played theses game every week.

    • Chris Warner says:

      Agreed. Check out the link to the roller coaster kid, and you’ll see an appropriate metaphor: he’s excited, he’s terrified, he’s thrilled, he’s happy. Hope this season’s just as fun.

  2. What do you guys make of “Todd” Light being pulled for Vollmer after the tripping penalty?

    Light was out for a few more plays after that one, discipline or a blow?

    I really like the unbalanced line idea too. Very surprising to see the OL not getting any push up front on running plays.

    I was of the opinion that the Pats would be more run focused this season with the idea of not allowing opposing defenses to pin their ears back and rush.

    Alot to work on this week before heading to the Meadowlands

    • Disappointed in Todd Light.
      “Wait: Matt. Matt Light? Matt Light.”
      Vollmer got his butt kicked on the early fourth down rush, so the OL needs work.

    • Box_O_Rocks says:

      Having re-watched that portion of the game on DVR, my question is “what tripping penalty Ref?” Unfortunately ESPN didn’t show a replay or alternate angle, but the one the camera did have showed me Matt Light kicking out Bills LB Keith Ellison, overextending and falling as Ellison pealed off to chase after Fred Taylor. At no time does that camera angle show a penalty – and Vince Wilfork can assure us the officials weren’t above chasing phantom penalties.

  3. Chris, I disagree the win was undeserved or the Pats were outplayed. Its just our expectations. The way the team is now won’t be the way it is in November. Opening week is an aberration. Look at the Colts and Chargers this week. But the Pats made plays when they had to. They outgained the Bills significantly. They missed a field goal, had to settle for another one practically at the goal line, had a couple questionable calls against them and were stopped twice on 4th down which won’t always happen. The Pats actually outplayed the Bills for most of the play and if they play a bit better on a couple key plays, the game isn’t all that close.

    • Totally agree. Yes, they needed that big play at the end to win the game, but saying that they did not deserve to win in not accurate. We outgained the Bills by a big margin and we did make that play to cause the fumble just like the Bills made the play to get the interception returned for a TD.

      With all the talk about how much no huddle offense hurt us, they only scored 17 points on offense. I actually liked a lot of what I saw from the D. They were very active. They had problems with screen passes because of their inexperience and aggression. It’s something that can get better at. We’ll win plenty of games if the D only allows 17 points. Offense was a bit out of sync, but they will definitely get better as well.

    • Chris Warner says:

      All good points. The Pats’ lack of execution on third- and fourth-down plays frustrated me no end. Actually, the Bills’ game plan reminded me of Pats teams past: allow yardage within the 20s but tighten up in the red zone, score when you can, and DON’T TAKE THE BALL OUT OF THE END ZONE ON A KICKOFF.
      sorry, had to add that last part.
      Happy with the win, and do believe they’ll improve. Overall, though, it’s hard to say that the Pats outplayed the Bills when they had so much trouble finishing drives and stopping the Buffalo offense late.

  4. I thought one of the announcers (Jaws or Gruden, I forget which, but holy crap I’m glad Kornholio is gone) made a good point about the Pats’ vulnerability on the screens – they were effectively doubling both TO and Evans on the outside, leaving a lot of one-on-ones and a lot of open space for Jackson coming out of the backfield. That goes to Chris’ point about being willing to give up yardage but not big plays.

  5. I was happy to see the much aligned Maroney-Watson dynamic duo come through in the clutch. Ben had the same amount of drops as Randy Moss but Brady trusted him with two great throws. Awesome!

    Maroney and Watson are two stand-up decent guys with good skills who have just not lived up to the XXL expectations. Through it all they have handled themselves with dignity and class. I was really happy for them and happy to know that if our bubble players can perform that well, then that bodes well for those guys who were well inside the bubble and still learning the system. I see this offense and their new players getting better and better.

    Gotta love the kickoff fumble recovery. Sure, call it a miracle, but situational planning set that up and Buffalo coaches and players spit the bit when they had their moment to shine.

    LM: “What should I do coach?”
    Joron: “Use your best judgement.”

  6. Box_O_Rocks says:

    The Defense struggled, and I’m not sold on the various 40 front formations, but a few points worth noting:
    — 17 points given up by the defense.
    — Out of 9 Buffalo possessions, NE forced four punts and one Hail Mary, factor in the Special Teams forced fumble and suddenly Buffalo’s offensive effort doesn’t look as dominating.
    — Owens (2 receptions), Evans (3 receptions), between the two around 70 yds. You might think the defensive game plan for this game wasn’t so dissimilar to that Giants/Bills game plan in the Super Bowl that reportedly got Bill Belichick his first toehold in Canton.
    — Buffalo is fast out of the gates, let’s see how they finish.
    — Is there any reason to think Coach Belichick put all his cards on the table in game one?

Leave a Reply