Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots have dominated the AFC for the better part of the last two decades. They won multiple Super Bowls, multiple AFC Championships, and consistently finished atop the AFC East.
However, since one Tom Brady departed in free agency two offseasons ago, it’s been a bit of a different story. The Patriots missed the postseason altogether last year and were a quick exit here in 2022.
The Bills absolutely crushed the Patriots
Bills-Patriots was one of the more anticipated matchups set to take place this weekend. The fierce rivals split their meetings during the regular season, and everyone wanted to see how the two sides would adjust during their third meeting.
The conditions made it that much more interesting as well. With temperatures dipping down into negatives, no one was sure who had the advantage. Josh Allen and his high-velocity arm have performed well in poor conditions since joining the Bills. However, Bill Belichick and the Patriots have a longstanding history of bullying teams when conditions get ugly.
Despite all the hype, the wild-card game ended up looking like a preseason exhibition. The Bills routed the Patriots by a score of 47-17, providing a rude wake-up call to those who thought the Patriots were primed for a deep playoff run this winter.
The Bills’ offense, in particular, had zero problems navigating around Belichick’s defensive scheme. They scored on their first seven drives to open the game. They also never punted the ball. It was pure domination from top to bottom.
Bill Belichick got brutally honest about the ugly loss
Belichick has become legendary around the NFL for his stone-cold approach to press conferences and interviews. However, after Saturday night’s loss, he offered a pretty human response when questioned about his team’s ugly outing.
“They [Bills] played well. We didn’t. They deserved to win,” Belichick said via the Boston Globe.
No sugar coating things there — Belichick simply stated what everyone else in the country already knew. The Bills are a way better team than the Patriots right now, and they proved it emphatically during the AFC Wild Card Round.
Did Bill Belichick and the Patriots overplay their hand this season?
Coming off an ugly season in 2020, Belichick and the Patriots entered the 2021 offseason with aggression on their minds. They handed out multiple free-agent deals — something the Patriots typically aren’t known for. They signed high-profile names Hunter Henry, Matthew Judon, Nelson Aglohor, Kendrick Bourne, and Jonnu Smith.
The Patriots, of course, drafted a new starting quarterback in the first round as well (Mac Jones). From top to bottom, Belichick and the Patriots were signaling they were ready to compete again — Tom Brady be damned.
While the Patriots making the playoffs is undoubtedly an achievement, it’s impossible to ignore how outmatched they looked against the BIlls. When the game started, the Bills looked like they were in an entirely different league and class.
This begs the question, did the Patriots overextend themselves this past offseason? Should they have weathered the storm with a slow rebuild process instead of spending all their cap space on the now? Only time will tell. However, Belichick’s somber statements after the loss don’t paint the picture of overwhelming optimism.
The Patriots may need to undergo some change this offseason to catch up to the Bills of the world.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.