Calling Sunday’s 16-10 win over the Buffalo Bills the ugliest win of all-time has some merit.
Tom Brady, appearing in an NFL game for the 313th time (including the postseason) in his illustrious career, recorded his worst passer rating in a game the Patriots still managed to win at 45.9. In all, it was the sixth-worst passer rating he's compiled across 20 NFL seasons.
Though not entirely at fault, Brady was abysmal, completing just 18 of 39 passes for 150 yards with an interception in the end zone in the second quarter.
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Fortunately for New England, Brady’s counterparts in Josh Allen and Matt Barkley were even worse.
Much, much worse.
Allen, the 7th overall pick in the 2018 draft, finished his rookie season as the least accurate passer in the NFL at 52.8%. The lanky Wyoming product had improved a bit entering Sunday, up to 64.1% in 2019, before he was picked off by J.C. Jackson twice and Devin McCourty another time, not to mention the four sacks he took for a net loss of 31 yards.
McCourty's interception was his fourth in as many games to begin the season.
After leaving the game with a concussion, Barkley fared no better, chucking up a game-sealing interception for Jamie Collins with 1:26 left in the fourth quarter.
New England was swarming all afternoon defensively, taking advantage of the hapless Bills in every phase. Kyle Van Noy had eight tackles, two sacks, two QB hits and a tackle for a loss; John Simon had six tackles, a sack, a pass defensed and a tackle for a loss; and Collins and Chase Winovich each recorded a sack as well.
The Patriots were without linebacker Dont'a Hightower due to a shoulder injury.
In terms of actually scoring their points, it was a big afternoon for New England's core special teamers. Matthew Slater scored the first touchdown of his 12-year NFL career on a punt initially blocked by Jackson, and Brandon Bolden had a 4-yard rushing touchdown on a jet sweep for New England, each play occurring in the first quarter.
If the Bills were able to shock the world late in the fourth quarter and, Stephen Gostkowski's missed PAT following Bolden's score would have loomed large. It's now four straight games that Gostkowski has missed a PAT, extending the longest such streak of his career.
He made his kick after Slater's touchdown and also nailed a 23-yard field goal. His counterpart, Needham, Massachusetts native Stephen Hauschka, made a 46-yard field goal for the Bills but missed from 49 yards out.
Buffalo's touchdown, a 1-yard keeper from Allen in the third quarter, was the first given up by New England's defense since the fourth quarter of the 2018 AFC Championship Game.
The win gives the Patriots sole possession of first place in the AFC East, with the Bills falling from the ranks of the unbeaten teams. It's the fifth time New England has started out 4-0 under Bill Belichick, though of the previous four instances, only the 2004 group went on to win the Super Bowl. The 2007, 2013 and 2015 teams did advance to at least the AFC Championship Game.
The Patriots are on the road against next week in our nations captial to take on Washington at 1 p.m. and are home again later that week for Thursday Night Football vs. the New York Giants.