By Alex MacDougall
BU News Service
With the Antonio Brown saga now behind them, the Patriots turned their focus on more pressing matters — this week’s opponent. While the Patriots won their first three games with solid margins of victory, their opponents had yet to lose a game coming into week four of the season. But the next challenger, the Buffalo Bills, who have been in only one playoff game since the turn of the millennium, had matched them with a 3-0 record of their own. With both teams playing in the AFC East division, this showdown would determine whether or not the Patriots were really still the undisputed kings of the east.
At first, it seemed like the Patriots would roll to another crushing victory, as they jumped out early with a 13-0 lead, thanks to a Branden Bolden touchdown run and a blocked punt by J.C. Jackson which was returned for a touchdown by Matthew Slater. The defense again looked unsolvable, with Bills quarterback Josh Allen throwing an interception on the Bills’ first drive to the Patriots’ Devin McCourty (already his fourth on the season). Fresh off back-to-back wins against fellow AFC East teams of the Jets and the Dolphins, the Patriots appeared to be once again taking total control of the division.
However, the Bills, under head coach Sean McDermott, refused to let that happen. After the initial 13-0 run in the first quarter, the Patriots only scored three more points for the rest of the game, after another Josh Allen interception (he would end the day with three interceptions total). While the defense continued to stump Allen throughout the game, Tom Brady seemed equally befuddled by the Bills’ defensive attack, ending the day by completing less than half of his passes, with no touchdowns thrown, a measly 150 yards passing and an interception. The Bills, under the rushing attack of Frank Gore and the efforts of wide receiver T.J. Yeldon, managed to draw closer, with two scoring drives resulting in a field goal and touchdown, respectively. But it ultimately proved not enough, and the Patriots walked out of Buffalo with another win, 16-10, and in sole possession of first place in the AFC East.
But while the Patriots remain undefeated, it has been proven they are not infallible. It remains to be seen how the Patriots will perform when faced against tougher challengers, and whether the Bills are for real or if they’ll fizzle out after their hot start. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski’s problems also continue to plague him, as he again missed what should be a simple extra point, an uneasy foreboding that can make all the difference in a close contest such as this one. But the Patriots shouldn’t have to worry about any of this, for next week at least, when they travel to Washington D.C. to take on yet another team that has failed to win a game this season. For now, the Patriots are sitting on their normal place atop the AFC East Division.