Patriots

Bill Belichick joked about how the Patriots can approach the late-season rematch against the Bills

"That game plan's already been made."

Bill Belichick
Bill Belichick during the Patriots' win over the Bills. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

A day after the Patriots’ unorthodox 14-10 win over the Bills in Buffalo—a game in which New England attempted just three passes—Bill Belichick said he felt “a little run down, but good.”

Speaking in his weekly radio interview on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show,” Belichick noted that though it had been a “late night,” it had been a “good one” for the team.

The Patriots emerged from a windswept AFC East clash not only with a win, but a lead as the top team in the conference.

Here are a few takeaways from Belichick’s interview:

The weather on Monday night.

New England’s run-heavy game plan was evident from early in the game, when the Patriots’ offense opened with 10 consecutive designed running plays.

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And even after Damien Harris scored on a 64-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, Belichick and the Patriots elected to go for a two-point conversion rather than attempt an extra point into the wind.

“The wind was a significant factor,” said Belichick of the weather conditions. “It wasn’t that cold but it was very windy and that affected certainly the kicking game and it affected the passing game some too.”

Patriots kicker Nick Folk attempted both of his field goals in quarters when New England had the wind in their favor (during the second and fourth quarters). Buffalo kicker Tyler Bass, by contrast, saw his own fourth quarter attempt go wide when kicking into the wind.

Each team traded fumbles lost, though the Patriots’ came on N’Keal Harry’s mishandled punt catch. New England running backs were able to avoid turnovers. It was a concept that Belichick said the coaching staff had focused on in the buildup to the game.

“That was the number one thing, was ball security,” said Belichick. “We just tried to emphasize it in practice, really extra focus on taking care of the ball.”

Throwing the ball was always a possibility, even if it didn’t happen.

At the end of the night, the Patriots had accomplished something that only a handful of other teams had done in NFL history: Win a game attempting fewer than five passes.

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It was a remarkable game plan, especially in modern football in which a passing game has become so important.

Yet the game-script went in New England’s favor when it came to choosing between passing or running. The Patriots took a first quarter lead and never trailed in the game.

Belichick insisted that the play-calling would have gone in another direction had the Bills gone ahead and forced the issue.

“I think if there had been a different kind of game and we had needed to throw there in the fourth quarter, we would’ve thrown,” Belichick explained.

“We were able to manage the game the way we did and that worked out alright for us.”

The plan for a quick rematch.

Though the Patriots were able to win against the Bills in Buffalo on Monday, another game between the two AFC East contenders looms later in December when New England hosts the rematch on Dec. 26.

Asked how much of Monday’s matchup he might be able to use for scouting purposes for the next game, Belichick made a joke.

“We were talking about that last night,” Belichick laughed. “We can use our whole passing game. All the pass plays that we have, they haven’t seen. We can use all of them next time we play them. That game plan’s already been made.”

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Belichick then offered a more serious reply.

“I think any time you play a team like we do here twice in three weeks or whatever it is, you just have to be careful and realize that even though it’s the same two teams, it’s not the same game,” he noted. “There will be players that play in the next game that didn’t play in this one, and probably vice versa. The game will take a different course and the conditions may be a lot different too, so that will probably have something to do with it.”

“We’re starting all over at that point, and when we get to them, we get to them,” Belichick said of the next Bills game, which will come after the team’s bye week and then a game against the Colts. “It’s [Indianapolis] first, but we just can’t assume that things are going to go like they did last night. It’ll be a completely different game.”

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