New England Patriots fans will not remember Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021 very fondly, unless they had a particularly bountiful Christmas and the gift runoff was enough to provide them joy all the way through the final whistle of Pats-Bills.
Otherwise, that date will go down as the day the Patriots lost their grip on a surprise run at the AFC East crown; after Buffalo’s 33-21 victory on New England’s home turf, all Sean McDermott’s team needs to do is win out to relegate the Pats to a Wild Card spot.
To be fair, that would also be a pretty good outcome, considering where expectations were when this season began. To be very fair, Buffalo still has to beat the Falcons and Jets at home to secure the division. It could be a blizzard. It could be a whiteout. This is also the same Bills team that lost 9-6 to Jacksonville a few weeks back. Nothing’s over.
Nothing is finished yet, but still … Sunday was awfully unpleasant. The Patriots schemed out very few answers for Josh Allen, and Coach Belichick was left reeling after “unleashing” Mac Jones, three short weeks after he was neutered in the Orchard Park road game.
All of this made for an extremely tense environment in Belichick’s postgame media session. As we all expected, the thick air was broken by one brave soul, who knew before opening her mouth she’d picked the worst possible moment to get a Belichick quote for a fluff piece she was working on.
Undeterred, she soldiered on. Coach … what is your New Year’s resolution?
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick doesn’t have any New Year’s resolutions.
Full credit to the reporter here. She knew she was about to make a mistake. She knew this was neither the time nor the place. But she was sent here by her employer on the promise she would squeeze these words out, and by God, she squeezed ’em.
And … is this … a new, softer Belichick? Did anyone expect a response of, “Not right now … maybe next week”? Leaving the door open to ultimately answer the question after taking Trevor Lawrence to school to start 2022? This isn’t the Belichick we’re used to.
No wonder he sees a brighter future ahead, because he’s arguably never been dominated so thoroughly in a loss.
Ignore the final score. Sunday’s game against Buffalo was the first time ever that he was unable to force an opponent to punt a single time.
So, what was it? Historic performance by Josh Allen that couldn’t be countered? A rookie-helmed Patriots team finally hitting a wall in a 17-game regular season, unlike anything we’ve seen before? A coaching malfunction?
It’s our resolution to find out in the New Year.