The New England Patriots threw the game back to 1934 on Monday Night Football against the Buffalo Bills, as inclement weather prevented Mac Jones and the passing game from attacking Sean McDermott deep down the field. Belichick leaned heavily on the ground game, and it helped them pull out a 14-10 win.
Jones attempted just three passes in the game, completing two. While Belichick may have leaned on Tom Brady’s golden arm for most of his coaching career in New England, he is an adherent of the Erhardt-Perkins scheme and loves pounding the rock. He finally got to live out his run-heavy dream against Buffalo.
Rather than challenge a Buffalo pass defense that ranks among the best in the league, New England chose to lean on a powerful running game that a weak Buffalo defensive line had no answer for. Belichick’s game plan looked like something out of an Army-Navy game or grainy black and white footage from the 1940s.
Belichick, the son of a former Navy backfield coach, was spotted wearing a Naval Academy mask right before the game. He then proceeded to run the ball at a rate that would make even the most conservative service academy coach blush.
Bill Belichick and the Patriots ran over the Bills, inspired by Navy.
Damien Harris ran for 111 yards on just 10 carries, including a 64-yard scamper that put New England in front during the first quarter. While he didn’t finish the game, Rhamondre Stevenson helped supplement Harris’ stats with a hard-earned 78 yards on 24 carries. Tackling someone who weighs as much as he does isn’t easy in such frigid conditions.
Even though we may not have learned much about these two teams given how the elements made it difficult for either of them to execute their normal game plan, this has to feel good if you’re a Patriots fan. The Bills knew New England was going to run all game long, and they still couldn’t stop them.
Belichick had his hands tied in this game. Even if the weather cleared up, was he really going to trust a rookie in Jones to face off against that defense? The Patriots knew that winning at the line of scrimmage was going to be instrumental in their quest to take down Buffalo, and they managed to execute their main goal in this game.
While Josh Allen will try to light their pass defense on fire when they meet back up in New England, the Patriots already have a psychological advantage over the Bills. Bill Belichick knows he can run the ball anytime he wants.