Bill Belichick turned back the clock on the offensive side of the ball on Monday night. In the Patriots win over the Buffalo Bills, Belichick’s team passed just three times which is the fewest pass attempts in a game in franchise history and the fewest by any team since 1974. While Mac Jones was essentially given the night off, New England ran the ball on 46 of its 49 plays on offense with Damien Harris (10 carries) and Rhamondre Stevenson (24 carries) seeing the bulk of the work.
A main reason why the Patriots kept the game on the ground was due to the severe weather up in Buffalo where the winds were gusting at around 55 mph, making the passing game a bit more unpredictable with the ball sailing in the air.
“Again, I think if it had been a different type of game and we would have needed to throw there in the fourth quarter then we would have thrown,” Bill Belichick told WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show on Tuesday morning. “We were able to manage the game the way we did and that worked out all right for us.”
A big reason why New England didn’t need to start opening up the passing game in the fourth quarter was thanks to some clutch play by the defense. Buffalo reached the red zone in each of its two fourth quarter possessions and the Patriots were able to hold them to zero points.
This win had major implications for the current playoff picture in the AFC. New England maintains its spot as the No. 1 seed in the conference and now has a 1.5 game advantage over Buffalo in the AFC East. These two teams will meet again in Foxborough in Week 16, and because they were able to keep the passing game closed for the night, Belichick did note that the Patriots have an interesting edge heading into that matchup.
“We were talking about that last night. We can use our whole passing game. All the pass plays we have, they haven’t seen,” he said.
Belichick added: “I think anytime you play a team almost in succession like we do here, twice in three weeks, or whatever it is, you just have to be careful and realize that even though it’s the same two teams, it’s not the same game. There will be players who play in the next game who didn’t play in this one and probably vise-versa. The game will take a different course and the conditions will probably be different too, so [that will probably have] something to do with it. We’re starting all over at that point and when we get to them, we get to them. It’s Indy first, but we can’t assume that things are going to go like they did last night. It will be a completely different game.”
After this win in Buffalo, the Patriots now enter their Week 14 bye.