3 takeaways from the New England Patriots demoralizing Wild Card loss

Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
Devin McCourty #32 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots takeaway No. 1: The defense just didn’t show up

The real culprit for this loss is 150 percent the Patriots defense. They might have allowed 47 points, which isn’t the highest total in NFL history or something, but I can honestly say that this was probably the worst defensive performance I have seen in the NFL in my lifetime.

The Bills scored touchdowns on all seven of their possessions that didn’t end in kneel downs. They converted on six of their seven third downs. The one they didn’t was a kneel down. There was never a point in this game where I was convinced the Patriots defense was going to get a stop, and based on their performance, they probably felt the same way.

I mean, where do we even start with this monstrosity of a performance? There wasn’t a single thing to be pleased about from this unit. Maybe it was Devin McCourty, who led the team with eight tackles and generally seemed to be the only player who showed any desire to prevent Buffalo for scoring. That’s really digging for something, and ultimately him leading the team in tackles just shows how bad this outing was for the Pats.

Sticking with the secondary for now, this was easily one of the worst showings of coverage I have ever seen. Allen will get credit for carving the Patriots secondary up all night long, but the Bills probably could have put in their punter (who conveniently got the night off) and he would have had the same statline. Allen’s receivers were getting so much separation that these throws were embarrassingly easy for him, and he proved it time and time again.

Remembering the last playoff game without Brady. dark. Next

It may not have made much of a difference in the grand scheme of things, but the attrition to New England’s secondary finally caught up to them. Jalen Mills missed this game with COVID, Kyle Dugger was basically playing with one hand, and Jonathan Jones‘ presence was dearly missed in this one. I truly wish the best for Joejuan Williams and Myles Bryant, but I hope I never have to witness them suit up for the Patriots ever again after this one.

Only adding to the woes of this game was the Patriots inability to shut down Buffalo’s ground game. Devin Singletary ran for two touchdowns, Allen added 66 yards on six attempts, and nobody on defense showed any intent to stop them. New England lined up weaker fronts to try to slow down Allen in the air, but that gamble failed miserably.

One last issue that I have with this one was the complete lack of tackling ability all over the field. Losing Ja’Whaun Bentley early certainly hurt, but McCourty should never be leading the team in tackles. Dont’a Hightower has had a great career in New England, but this should be the final game of his career, as he just had no impact on the game in his attempt to replace Bentley.

You can blame whoever you want on defense for this loss, and you’d have a point. But overall, this was more about the struggles of the unit as a whole rather than one single player. The Patriots did a good job fixing up their offense this season, but they need to usher in some big changes for their defense this upcoming offseason.