Dolloff: There's No 'D' In "Win"
The Patriots defense overcame a strong performance from the opposing quarterback, who ultimately made costly mistakes but showed great poise in coming up just eight points short. The problem for the Pats? The quarterback was Ryan Fitzpatrick, and the team was the winless Buffalo Bills.
The BILLS! The Buffalo Bleepin’ Bills! We can expect games like this from Pro-Bowl quarterbacks, but Fitzpatrick? Who didn’t even have the starting job last week?
It’s become abundantly clear that this season’s Patriots defense is going to be like a roller coaster ride- sometimes exhilarating, sometimes puke-inducing, always twisting and turning and dipping and diving.
But 374 total yards allowed to a team that had managed just 352 total yards in their first two games combined? At home? Pass the scotch, please.
Keeping with the drinking theme, this game for Patriots fans was like downing 18 consecutive shots of straight Kahlua on an empty stomach- it’s rough to get through, by the end of it you’re feeling great, and the morning after doesn’t feel nearly as good.
Sure, there were some big plays made by defenders to help close the game out like the interceptions by Brandon Meriweather and Patrick Chung. But those were clearly overthrown passes by a quarterback who isn’t supposed to make those throws. And Chung’s interception fell into his lap like his gloves were magnetized.
The Patriots ultimately won with the offense bouncing back, Tom Brady included. Of course. Not like we should be expecting anything else like, say, the defense making the plays that win the game.
[photogallerylink id=45358 align=right]Still, the offense looked typically strong. All of the runningbacks stepped up and contributed, while Brady looks to have convinced Aaron Hernandez to put down the bong with another big game coming from the tight end out of Florida. And Randy Moss hauled in two of his targets for TDs. Fine. A win is a win.
But if this is how the Patriots are going to have to win every time, then we’re in for a seat-squirming, stomach-churning season.
The past two weeks, they’ve made Mark Sanchez and Ryan Fitzpatrick look like Joe Namath and Jim Kelly. Okay, we get it. The defense sucks. If they can’t stop the Bills, they can’t stop anybody.
But still, this was not a game the Patriots should have battled for all 60 minutes in order to win.
This was not a game where Brady should have needed to march the team downfield to scratch for three points and barely inch back into the lead just before halftime. This was not a game where their first lead of more than eight points should have come with 8:19 left in the game.
And this definitely was not a game where they ended up needing Danny Woodhead to come up big in the running game. Good thing he found the end zone in the second quarter, or else Patriots fans might all be lining up at the edge of the Zakim as we speak.
This was just another case of the Patriots D forcing the offense to make the big plays to win the game, which Brady & Co. fortunately did. Frustratingly so, it’s pretty much the exact opposite of how the Belichick-ian Patriots used to win games.
But this is quite obviously a different era as the Patriots transition on D. They’re still just as young and inexperienced as they have been all season, and their performance will likely make every game either a shootout or a blowout.
So until further notice, we’ll have to deal with Meriweather biting on play fakes allowing backs like C.J. Spiller to coast into the endzone, the pass rush (or lack thereof) making a piss-poor Bills offensive line actually look decent at times, and low-rent quarterbacks shredding them for consistent gains.
Brady doesn’t have a defense to lean on anymore, and he knows it. He’s the one who will have to make plays to win the game for the Patriots considering that Richard Seymour, Rodney Harrison and Ty Law aren’t walking through that door.
If Fitzpatrick can take this defense, and the game, to the brink- in Foxboro no less- then future games for the Patriots are going to be quite sobering.
Better have plenty of scotch ready for when Peyton Manning comes to town.