Patriots

A tale of two defenses: Belichick’s Patriots pounce, McDermott’s Bills absorb another lesson

One football team played to win with its defense. The other did not.

The New England Patriots, victorious by a 24-17 score on Saturday, are the AFC East champs with an inside track to a first-round playoff bye. The Buffalo Bills, well, they are not, destined for what appears to be a road Wild Card weekend date with the Houston Texans.

All is not lost, though. As their coach, Sean McDermott, now 25-22 in his career, noted that his team has to, “continue to learn from these experiences, as a young football team and continue to grow, so we get stronger and stronger.” Ice cream cones all around for this moral victory.

Bill Belichick, coaching with confidence, wasn't about to let Devin Singletary be introduced to a national TV audience as the next big thing on the shores of Lake Erie.

He schemed the rookie back out, crowding the line and putting the ball in Josh Allen's hands. He rolled the dice and gave up a couple of monster plays. Allen came in with a pedestrian passer efficiency rating of 77.5. He helped that bump up with a 102.7 on Saturday.

There was the 33-yard pre-halftime shocker to Dawson Knox.

And the 53-yard bomb to John Brown.

But yes, it was a painful loss that he carried home on the charter back to Buffalo, the final lasting memory being Jamie Collins engulfing him as he lobs an unanswered prayer to the end zone that never had a chance.

Belichick gambled, because