Protection collapses as Pats’ season ends in frustration

Patriots-Payments takeaways: Josh Allen ends Pats’ season with epic efficiency initially appeared on NBC Sports activities Boston

The New England Patriots received completely destroyed by the Buffalo Payments in Saturday evening’s AFC Wild Card playoff recreation at Highmark Stadium.

Proper from the beginning, the Payments dominated in all three phases en path to a 47-17 win to finish the Patriots’ season. It is the second-largest defeat in Patriots playoff historical past (post-AFL/NFL merger). Tremendous Bowl XX stays essentially the most lopsided postseason loss for New England.

Payments quarterback Josh Allen was the star of the sport with 5 landing passes. He threw 9 touchdowns and nil interceptions in three matchups versus the Patriots this season.

Wilfork and Edelman had hilarious reactions to ugly Patriots-Payments first half

Buffalo will journey to Kansas Metropolis to play the No. 2 seed Chiefs in subsequent week’s AFC Divisional Spherical. It is a rematch of final yr’s AFC Championship Sport.

Listed here are 4 takeaways from Patriots-Payments.

1) One other horrible begin proves pricey

The Patriots saved placing themselves in an early gap late within the season, and you’ll’t anticipate to win many video games in that trend. New England’s protection offered little resistance as Buffalo scored a landing on each of its first-quarter drives.

The Payments led 14-0 after quarter-hour. It represented the fourth time within the final 5 video games that the Patriots trailed coming into the second quarter. They had been outscored 52-7 within the first quarter throughout that five-game span.

However wait, there are extra ugly stats concerning New England’s sluggish begins over the past month:

The Patriots do not have a high-powered offense able to erasing massive deficits. The protection wanted to step up and maintain the rating shut early, nevertheless it failed mightily in that regard over the past 5 video games.

New England completed the season 8-1 when scoring first and 2-7 once they did not rating within the first quarter.

2) Pats protection crumbled late within the season

One of many strengths of this Patriots workforce for a lot of the season was its protection — a unit that allowed the second-fewest factors and fourth-fewest yards within the league. However you in all probability would not know that when you simply watched the Patriots play over the past 5 video games.

This protection gave up a league-best 15.38 factors per recreation coming into its Week 14 bye. The Patriots allowed a mean of 27.2 factors per recreation over the ultimate 5 weeks of the season.

The linebackers had been too gradual and unathletic, whereas the secondary was harm by accidents and lacked enough depth. Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson had an incredible yr and was deservingly chosen to the All-Professional second workforce, however Payments broad receiver Stefon Diggs has his quantity and proved it once more this yr.

One other big challenge for the Patriots protection was it simply could not get stops in key conditions. For instance, the Payments had been 6-of-7 on third down and have become the primary workforce within the Tremendous Bowl period to attain a landing on their first seven drives of a playoff recreation Saturday evening. New England’s pink zone protection was terrible in December and January.

The Payments punted zero (!) occasions of their final two video games versus the Patriots.

The Patriots gained seven consecutive video games in the course of the season with a robust run recreation and an incredible protection that pressured numerous turnovers. The protection’s huge dip in efficiency was the largest think about New England’s decline over the past 5 video games, together with Saturday evening’s rout.

3) Josh Allen will lead Payments to Tremendous Bowl LVI

The Payments are using a five-game win streak and famous person quarterback Josh Allen is taking part in like an MVP. He was completely sensational in opposition to the Patriots, finishing 21 of 25 go makes an attempt for 308 yards with 5 touchdowns and nil interceptions. He additionally made performs together with his legs, selecting up 66 yards on six carries. 

It was one of the vital dominant playoff performances from a quarterback over the past 25 years.

Invoice Belichick’s protection simply had no solutions for Allen, who additionally carved up the Patriots within the Payments’ Week 16 victory at Gillette Stadium. Not solely is Allen an correct passer, he has sufficient athleticism to flee stress and the dimensions/energy to push back tackles. 

How do you defend a QB who strikes like this?

Allen was the first purpose why the Payments had been the third-highest scoring workforce throughout the common season. Though the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs protection improved mightily over the second half of the yr, it is exhausting to think about that unit slowing down this Payments offense subsequent weekend. The Payments are a assured group, and it would not be stunning in any respect if Allen leads them to Tremendous Bowl LVI.

Historical past is on their aspect…

4) 2021 season nonetheless a hit general

Certain, this was a fairly disappointing manner for the Patriots’ season to finish, however general it was a really optimistic yr for the franchise.

For starters, the event of first-round draft choose Mac Jones was encouraging. He was the highest rookie quarterback within the league and confirmed nice accuracy and poise via the marketing campaign. Jones performed OK in his first style of playoff motion.

Different positives embody rookie Rhamondre Stevenson and veteran Damien Harris forming one of many prime operating again duos within the league. Rookie defensive deal with Christian Barmore performed a key function on protection and ranks as one of many largest steals of the 2021 draft.

A number of of the workforce’s veteran free brokers additionally made a robust affect, together with broad receiver Kendrick Bourne and tight finish Hunter Henry.

There are many query marks, too, in addition to roster holes to fill. Jackson’s free company is a big storyline, and it is vitally necessary the Patriots carry him again. The offense wants one other playmaker at broad receiver.

The Patriots made nice enchancment on either side of the ball following a disastrous 2020 season. They discovered their quarterback of the long run and added a bunch of high quality gamers via the draft and free company. There is a good basis in place, and now it is as much as Belichick and his employees to search out the appropriate items within the offseason to get this workforce to the following degree.