New England Patriots

Dec 23, 2018; Foxborough, MA: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady looks on from the bench during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

Tom Brady looks on from the bench during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

The Patriots had their share of positives to take from their 24-12 win over the Bills. Tom Brady was not one of them.

On an afternoon where the quarterback was closer to a career-worst performance than career-best, it took total team toughness to dominate the Buffalo Bills. In a game where the offense could’ve really used a bounce-back, they got one – on the ground. In the air, they took another step back.

A lot of that falls on the shoulders of Brady. He was often errant with his throws under pressure, and threw behind his receivers on a handful of occasions. He wasn’t on the same page with Rex Burkhead on his first of two interceptions, throwing in the opposite direction of his receiver. He sailed one high on his second interception, although through Rob Gronkowski’s hands.

But make no mistake, this was Brady’s worst game of the season and one that will generate plenty of discussion about his “decline” all over the national media, and certainly on our very airwaves at 98.5 The Sports Hub. Brady sucked, Mike!

Really, though, who would’ve thought the Patriots would’ve beaten the Bills by two scores while Brady was arguably their worst player? Maybe you would have, because It’s The Bills™. Still, there’s little excuse for posting a 48.3 passer rating.

Except maybe if it’s an injury? Despite some speculation that Brady is playing through a serious knee injury, the quarterback refused to use that as some sort of crutch.

“No, I’m not injured,” said Brady, when asked whether he was hurt when he exited the game with 6:39 left in the fourth quarter. He said in a previous answer that he feels “great” and that he’s at 100 percent. Hard to believe with the way he’s playing, and the way he looks throwing the ball.

The fact that the Patriots clinched their 10th straight AFC East title took some of the sting off Brady’s no-good, very-bad day.

“Yeah, we didn’t have our best game in the pass game, but we won,” he said. “So, I think everyone’s feeling pretty good about winning.”

Dec 23, 2018; Foxborough, MA: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady looks on from the bench as the offense comes off the field during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

Tom Brady looks on from the bench as the offense comes off the field during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

Brady did throw one touchdown, but credit is due to Julian Edelman for keeping himself from going down by contact and popping back up to finish the catch-and-run. Brady made exactly one good, impressive throw all day, and it was an under-pressure dump to Edelman over the middle in which he had to release the ball with a defender grasping him and while dancing back-and-forth in the pocket. The knee actually didn’t look too bad there.

Other than that? Brady’s touchdown “salvaged” his passer rating from being maybe the worst single game of his career, finishing with a merely horrendous 48.3 mark.

Bill Belichick doesn’t sound terribly concerned about the passing game, though. In typical Belichick fashion, he reiterated that the Patriots will score however they can, and don’t necessarily need Brady to be the guy to do it.

“Our goal is always to move the ball and score points, so that’s what we try to do,” said Belichick. “It depends on how they’re playing us and whether we can run it, throw it, whatever it is. If we can move the ball and score points, that’s a good thing.

“We don’t try to go into the game and say ‘This is how many times we’re going to run the ball, this is how many times we’re going to throw it to this player, this is how many times we’re going to throw it to that player.’ We call our plays, we see what happens and we try to adjust as the game goes along to do what we think is best. It’s the same thing we do every week.”

Certainly a good sign for the Patriots’ run game and their overall toughness that they were able to run the ball, stop the run, and cover well on special teams. They’re most certainly tougher than your average football team. It also can’t go unnoticed that the Patriots lost Josh Gordon for the rest of the season earlier in the week, and they were going up against a Bills defense that entered the game allowing a league-low 187.4 passing yards per game.

Welp, that number’s going to go down. This was a day where Brady (126 passing yards) was decidedly below average. And we’ll have to hope he really is just hiding an injury, because it would be a big concern to see Brady play this poorly at 100 percent.

But ask him and he’ll say he’s fine. Definitely didn’t look like it on Sunday.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.