Adrian Kraus/Associated Press
The Fresh England Patriots didn't give a damn about style points Monday when they realized a freezing night with 20-plus mile-per-hour winds would very a lot affect their assembly with the Buffalo Funds at Highmark Stadium.
As a change, Bill Belichick and Co. concocted the absolute best game realizing to counteract the must haves whereas simultaneously crushing the soul of their division rival with a carefully embellished ground-and-pound gala.
The Funds must soundless advance away supremely disheartened by their effort all around the Patriots' 14-10 victory.
First, Fresh England now sits alone atop the playoffs standings because the first AFC squad with nine wins. 2nd, the Patriots bear what will be an insurmountable 7-1 convention yarn, whereas every other AFC participant has no longer no longer as a lot as three convention losses. Third, the division leader has yet to lose on the road. At remaining, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels known as the kind of game that haunts an opponent because the Funds knew what used to be coming and couldn't produce anything about it.
When the climate gets frigid and windy, the come simplifies: crawl the ball, play for discipline aim and let the protection inch to work.
"Honest a crazy game to be a little bit of," Patriots quarterback Mac Jones educated journalists after the competition. "We knew if we didn't flip the ball over, we would be factual."
Jones did rep credit for participation, but that's about it. In among the wildest stat traces in fresh memory, the rookie imprint-caller executed two-of-three passes for 19 yards. Historically, the Patriots executed something special. They modified into the first crew to rep a game with three or fewer passes since Week 3 of the 1974 advertising campaign, per ESPN Stats & Files. The 2 completions are the fewest in the Patriots' franchise history, with the three makes an strive now the least in any single game.
Why throw the ball when a crew would no longer have to provide so?
With that belief in thoughts, Fresh England ran for 222 yards and averaged 4.8 yards per raise despite Buffalo putting eight to nine males in the box on nearly every single snap.
"I'm excellent looking to rep," Jones replied when asked about his lack of passing. "It used to be factual we scored more than the opposite crew."
Adrian Kraus/Associated Press
Fresh England's efficiency harkens support to what Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley, who fielded the league's No. 1 protection remaining season as a Rams coordinator, acknowledged when asked why running the ball stays well-known in a pass-first league:
"There is a physicality to the game that's proper, appropriate? If you are excellent a passing crew, there's a bodily part to the game that the protection would no longer have to admire. And that's the real fact. Since the tips will picture you that you do no longer favor a crawl game to play pass. You do no longer favor that.
"Nevertheless what the running game does for you it brings a bodily dimension to the football game. And what the running game does that the passing game does no longer, is the running forces the protection to play block and to style out. That occurs on a crawl play—or no longer it may possibly well most likely perhaps perhaps be indispensable to play blocks, and or no longer it may possibly well most likely perhaps perhaps be indispensable to style out. In the passing game, those things don't have to happen, appropriate? That that you can perhaps perhaps no longer have to play as many blocks. And likewise that you would be able to perhaps additionally no longer have to style out essentially based on incomplete or no longer. So what the running game does is it in spite of all the pieces challenges your physicality, and that's clarification why I contemplate the crawl game is indispensable to a quarterback. Or no longer it's actually going to enable him to bear more rental to try must you produce throw the football."
On this explicit contest, Jones did not have to throw the football but three cases. Clearly, inclement climate played a extensive ingredient. Nevertheless the Funds' Josh Allen used to be in a position to prick the wind and attach about a significant tosses all around the night.
The importance of Staley's words revolves across the bodily side. At its core, football stays a violent game. While it may possibly well most likely perhaps perhaps also no longer be entirely quantifiable, the premise of imposing one's will onto an opponent is taught to gamers at every single stage. As the prone adage goes, "The absolute best feeling in football is gripping a man from Level A to Level B in opposition to his will."
McDaniels' come all over Fresh England's most in style victory—its seventh straight—took this belief and in actual fact applied it as section of the crew's playcalling. Personnel packages consistently incorporated a sixth offensive lineman plus the crew's fullback, Jakob Johnson.
Nothing the Patriots did used to be groundbreaking. If anything, their kind of play invoked memories of Vince Lombardi's Inexperienced Bay Packers with among the sweep performs they ran. McDaniels known as traps and powers. He also got his running backs on the sting to provide about a chunk performs.
Merely set, Fresh England used to be indispensable bigger and more bodily at the purpose of assault.
"For the offensive line to provide what they did used to be indispensable," Jones acknowledged.
The efficiency didn't fall entirely on the offensive line, though the neighborhood played extraordinarily correctly. The Patriots' wide receivers, particularly N'Keal Harry, helped build apart of residing the tone by sealing the sting and laying some wicked crack-support blocks. The 227-pound Rhamondre Stevenson ran exhausting and by a superb deal of tackles once he took over for an injured Damien Harris, whose stunning 64-yard-inch served because the Patriots' lone landing.
Damien Harris is GONE. 64-yard landing! #ForeverNE
📺: #NEvsBUF on ESPN
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The Funds' underbelly showed, and or no longer it's more at possibility of assault than the dragon Smaug from The Hobbit. Buffalo cannot discontinuance the crawl even when it knows it have to. In opposition to the Patriots, Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts, Sean McDermott's protection allowed a median of 210.7 speeding yards per game.
Buffalo is presupposed to be among the AFC's high squads, but all people is checking out hasty the convention is being overrun by mediocrity. This places the Patriots in prime aim because the postseason looms.
Among the opposite teams presently in playoff slots, the Titans are with out Derrick Henry. The Baltimore Ravens' Lamar Jackson has played poorly as of gradual with eight interceptions in his remaining four appearances. The Kansas City Chiefs bear improved, particularly on protection, but Patrick Mahomes continues to fight with certain defensive looks to be like. The Los Angeles Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals are extremely inconsistent.
The Patriots are excellent plugging in conjunction with the whole instruments to continue their successful ways.
Monday's efficiency is an aberration, needless to protest. Fresh England used to be willing for the moment and willed its manner toward a particular efficiency. Nevertheless Belichick's most in style squad is more than able to playing and beating every crew in the NFL with an ambiance friendly (and sure NFL Offensive Rookie of the One year) operator in the support of center, a bodily offensive front, weapons at tight stop and wide receiver, an exact of gifted backs and the league's No. 1 scoring protection.
"Here is never any longer finished. We're no longer even finish to being performed. We haven't even hit our ceiling, as Coach would order," running support Brandon Bolden educated journalists.
Fresh England couldn't care much less about what any person thinks concerning their kind of play. The Patriots continue to rep. Nothing else matters. They've re-emerged because the AFC's most efficient crew for this reason.
Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Myth. Prepare him on Twitter, @brentsobleski.