You can only go to the well so many times, and you can’t survive week-to-week on the back of one player in the NFL. The Patriots found that out today in Buffalo, when four Brady interceptions kept the Bills in the game long enough to come back from a 21-point early deficit to win 34-31. Unfortunately, I foreshadowed this scenario in my Q&A with Brad Andrews at BuffaLowDown. When asked if the 2011 Patriots offense was the best it’s ever been, I said the following:
I don’t think I can call it the best yet because the 2007 offense was something special. I also have concerns with this offense. If Tom Brady isn’t completely on like he has been, can the running game help take pressure off Brady? It hasn’t shown that it can just yet. The Pats are asking an awful lot of Brady to carry the team week in and week out. It has to give at some point, right?
When asked about the defense, I responded:
…if Brady falters, can this defense keep the team in the game? I don’t think so. They’ve been lucky with turnovers up to this point, but you can’t count on that.
And that’s pretty much how it went down.
The Patriots came out with their usual offensive aerial show, going up 21-0 early in the second quarter, thanks in part to some Ryan Fitzpatrick miscues. It didn’t continue though, as Buffalo then scored 17 unanswered points, thanks largely to two Brady interceptions in the red zone. You never want to turn the ball over, but losing it in the red zone magnifies the mistake as you rob yourself of at least 3 points. Buffalo was able to capitalize and tie the game 24-24.
Brady then came out to throw another interception, this time to Drayton Florence who took it 27 yards for a touchdown, putting the Bills up 31-24. The Patriots were able to work down the field and tie the game with a Brady to Welker scoring strike, Welker’s second of the game. After a 29-yard pass over Devin McCourty to Steve Johnson and a 38-yard pass to Fred Jackson, the Bills were able to run out the clock and kick the game-winning field goal.
Are the Patriots relying too much on Tom Brady? His final numbers were 30-45 for 386 yards, 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. The Patriots ran the ball only 26 times, and one of those was a Brady scramble. This loss, and how the Pats lost, will surely be debated and talked about throughout the week.