The Patriots and the Rams were locked in a tight battle for control of first place atop the AFC standings. This game was unique because no one could be sure who would win until it was over, but New England pulled out an exceptional victory by making two 3rd-down plays that will go down as important turning points.
The “new england patriots coach” is a 3rd-down play that was shown in the Monday Night Football game. The play showed why Bill Belichick and the Patriots remain ahead of the game.
Sean McDermott, the head coach of the Buffalo Bills, didn’t want to give Bill Belichick any additional credit for the New England Patriots’ 14-10 win against the Buffalo Bills on Monday, but credit must be given where credit is due.
Despite all of the hype about the terrible wind and Patriots quarterback Mac Jones’ lack of pass attempts, the game came down to two third-down plays in the second half.
Simply said, the Patriots completed their critical play, and the Bills failed to do so. And once again, Belichick and the Patriots came out on the winning side of that razor-thin margin between triumph and loss, leaving McDermott and the Bills hoping for revenge at Foxboro in Week 16.
Bill Belichick and the Patriots were happy to settle for four yards on a crucial third down when they needed five.
Getty Images/Mac Jones | Barry Chin/The Boston Globe
The Patriots’ strategy for winning this game was well-known.
The high wind conditions couldn’t have been more in the Patriots’ favor, with a ferocious defense, a sturdy offensive line, and two great running backs in Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson. And when Harris scored on a 64-yard touchdown run early in the game, it set the tone for how the Patriots would attempt to beat the Bills and the clock.
The trademark moment of the game’s signature drive resulted in neither a touchdown nor a first down. However, it helped the Patriots win in the end.
On a night when his name was called seldom, Jones made his most crucial play on a 3rd-and-5 from the Bills’ 37-yard line. Jones carried the ball five times and threw it three times, establishing a club record for the fewest pass attempts in a game.
This time, Mac Jones took the initiative and led the Patriots to victory.
The previous record was set in 1982 in another extreme-weather game, the Snow Plow Game, when a work-release convict named Mark Henderson used a snow-brush truck to clear a way for kicker John Smith against the Miami Dolphins on a snowy Foxboro Sunday. The next kick was the lone touchdown in a 3-0 win in which quarterback Steve Grogan only passed the ball five times.
Fast forward almost 40 years, and the Patriots were lining up for another crucial field goal in a bad-weather game, but they didn’t need any snow plows. Instead, Jones plowed ahead for four yards on a quarterback keeper up the middle, setting up a 4th-and-1 situation.
Belichick clearly regarded the third down as a two-down scenario, as seen by the call. He just had his quarterback run forward to lessen the yards required on fourth down rather than risk a ball into the wind. It’s a huge order to expect a quarterback to sneak ahead for five yards. However, getting all five yards was not required. Given how dominant the offensive line was in this game, requesting one yard was adequate.
Not only did Jones slip for that yard and a first down once again, but the Patriots also received the extra pleasure of McDermott challenging the location, a challenge he had little chance of winning and which cost him a crucial timeout.
The Bills hesitated on their third-down choice with the game on the line.
When compared to Bill Belichick, Sean McDermott says regarding the psychological aspect of coaching: “Let’s not give Bill Belichick any more credit than he deserves… It’s not about Bill Belichick; it’s about what you’re doing with the opportunity you’ve been given.” pic.twitter.com/FUPIIrP2qU
December 7, 2021 — Heather Prusak (@haprusak)
The Patriots were able to keep possession into the fourth quarter because to Jones’ two rushes, the second of which earned a first down with 3:09 remaining in the third quarter. This gave them the wind at their backs for the final quarter. When the drive came to a halt with 13:01 remaining, Nick Folk kicked a rather easy 34-yard field goal for a 14-10 lead.
With 2:11 remained in the game, it was Buffalo’s turn to face a crucial third down, having progressed to the Patriots’ 13-yard line for a 3rd-and-9. And it was here that the narrow line between the Patriots’ success and their AFC East opponents’ failure — a formula that has split these two teams for almost the whole last 20 seasons — once again separated these two teams.
The Bills never gave themselves a chance on third down, when Jones and the Patriots performed brilliantly. Tight end Dawson Knox shifted before the play, resulting in a devastating false start that left the Bills in a tough 3rd-and-14 against the wind against a defense that had kept Josh Allen quiet for virtually the entire game.
And it was here that the disparity between the teams became clear. Whereas the Patriots were satisfied to get their first down in two plays, the Bills went for broke on their second third-down attempt, with Allen firing an incomplete ball into the end zone.
The outcome was inevitable now that it was a 4th-and-14 instead of a 4th-and-manageable. Another pass that was not completed. The game is done.
As a result, McDermott should be forgiven for not wanting the media to give Belichick too much credit for the win. The score was known to the Bills’ coach. The Patriots did their thing when the game was on the line. The Bills, on the other hand, did not.
Pro Football Reference provided the statistics.
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