ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WKBW) — One toss. One cut. 64 yards. Six points.
Damien Harris's touchdown run was the indicator of all things that went wrong on defense in Monday night's loss to the Patriots. The Bills gave up 222 yards on the ground, including the game's longest play that allowed the Patriots to take a lead they would never give up.
"Usually that starts with setting an edge, you have to set the edge, and then you gotta have pursuit up and in on the backside," head coach Sean McDermott said. "Occasionally, you're going to hit an eight yarder. Or 10 yards. That's going to happen. This is the NFL, right? 64 yards? No way."
Buffalo is 0-3 on the year when they give up 125 or more yards on the ground. New England's approach built upon the Bills' loss to Tennessee. One big run early was all it took; then Leslie Frazier's unit was all but helpless as their opponent continued to grind out the clock and grind down the field.
"We knew they were gonna be running the ball a lot. And then from there, it was just getting them into negative situations," safety Micah Hyde said. "They've got good backs... they were running it downhill, mixing it up a bit on us, and whatever was working, they would go right back to it."
The committee approach taken by New England was caused in part by an injury to Damien Harris. After his 64-yard touchdown run, Harris was in and out of the game. He attempted a return, The Patriots were also without maybe their biggest name at running back in James White.
Rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson led all players with 24 carries on Monday night. However, the Oklahoma product only picked up 78 net yards on the night for an 3.3 yard average. But that call three times in a row can get the Patriots within inches of a first down.
"When you run the ball 45 times you're gonna make some yards here and there and things like that," McDermott said. "You have to win the line of scrimmage... it's not good enough."
Losing at the line of scrimmage has been a theme for Buffalo in their losses. Meanwhile, winning at the line of scrimmage has been a large part of New England's recipe for success in their win streak; Monday night's victory was the Patriots' seventh straight. The two teams will collide again in Foxboro in less than three weeks.
"We'll see this team again, you know? It's a good football team that we lost to today," safety Jordan Poyer said. "And we'll find a way to bounce back."
After facing a run-heavy attack in horrific weather, the game script ad weather will completely flip for Buffalo next week. The Bills are on the road to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tom Brady, and the NFL's top-ranked passing offense on Sunday at 4:25 p.m.