FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss the important takeaways after the Patriots lost to Buffalo Bills, 17-9, in the season finale for both teams at Gillette Stadium.

[0:00:10] ... regular season game out of the way the patriots lose to the Buffalo Bills for the first time ever in Gillette Stadium history. By a score of seventeen. To nine patriots lose at home for the ...
[0:01:39] ... just as importantly I thought crest. Sebastian Vollmer was inactive and obviously Dan Connolly. Has been dealing with a neck injury for the last couple weeks neither of those players were active and up on the ...
[0:02:10] ... concerned for Tom Brady's health. With the aforementioned save gas and also Dan Connolly not active were you surprised he played as much especially took as many hits as he did. I think what they wanted ...
[0:03:15] ... thing it was interesting to see. Was that they made sure that Vince Wilfork it is incentives actually believe played deepen this one he needed to play 70% of the steps over the course this season. To be able to qualify for a bonus over one million dollars he was elated that. Vince leaves this we're very happy man. Vince Wilfork and I was watching him fairly closely throughout the game there are moments where he was not engaged to dog you can tell he was standing up. At the line of scrimmage pretty much trying to make sure that he wasn't going all out there and avoiding getting hurt and you understand that yeah at this point of the year. There were a couple of sacks at the patriots got one in particular where he got great push and Jamie Collins got through first strip sack and a fumble recovery. But I think Vince Wilfork played it right. Yet he did and I think a lot of these guys on defense playwright look it's it's about just ...






Matthew Slater know the game changes when the postseason rolls around. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater know the game changes when the postseason rolls around. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — In the wake of Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Bills, the Patriots will spend the next few days flipping the calendar — and the mindset — from the regular-season to the postseason. The veterans who have been through the playoff grind in years’ past understand the pace of the game also shifts. Things get quicker, and considerably more intense.

Linebacker Rob Ninkovich, who has played in nine playoff games since joining the Patriots in 2009, said that the best way to describe the changes in the pace of the game for a rookie (or any young player who has never experienced the postseason before) is that the move from the regular season to the postseason brings the same sort of spike in intensity players get when they move from the preseason into the regular season.

“Everything is magnified,” he said following Sunday’s contest against the Bills. “Everything means that much more, and it always comes down to a play here, a play there, for the outcome of these games. It comes down to execution — the best teams are in the playoffs. You have to really work hard during the week and prepare well to know who you’re playing and understand what they do well. It all comes down to studying.”

“That comparison is adequate,” said special teams captain Matthew Slater when told of Ninkovich’s assessment. “It’s like going from preseason to regular season. It’ll be like nothing they’ve experienced before. They’ve got to realize everything is on the line. The whole season. It started back in OTAs, it’s all on the line now. There’s got to be a sense of urgency, a sense of purpose, a drive that every play in practice and in the game is the season. That’s the message we have to send out as leaders on this team. And hopefully, everybody understands that.”

Then, there’s the danger that comes with resting on your laurels. The Patriots finished the regular season with a 12-4 mark and the top seed in the AFC, but now that the playoffs loom, everyone is back to 0-0.

“I think it’s important for us to understand all we’ve done is we’ve put ourselves in good position, but the real work remains,” Slater said. “I think what we have to do over the next week-and-a-half or so is to make sure our focus is on continuing to show improvement. The teams that are able to continue to improve at this point in the season will move forward. For us, what we’ve done in the 16 games over the course of the regular season isn’t good enough. We have to keep getting better.

“And the other half of that is taking advantage of the bye. Guys getting rest. That doesn’t mean guys flying all over the country. That doesn’t mean guys staying up late. We have to do a good job of taking are of ourselves physically, or that bye really doesn’t mean anything if we don’t do that.”

Ultimately, for safety Devin McCourty, it’s about seizing the moment and understanding the challenge at hand.

“I remember my rookie year, when we lost in that first playoff game in the divisional round, it ended so fast, I wasn’t ready,” said McCourty, who has played in eight postseason games since he joined the Patriots in 2010. “You didn’t think about it.

“We’ll never get this same opportunity with this team ever again,” he added. “I think that once you can really tell yourself that and really understand that, you’re going to do everything you need to do to go out there and play well. When you get a bunch of individuals doing that, that’s when you can play well as a team.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Ryan Wendell

Ryan Wendell

FOXBORO — If there is one thing to be hesitant about going into the postseason for the Patriots offense, it is the play of its offensive line.

Without starters Dan Connolly (knee) and Sebastian Vollmer (back), forcing a starting offensive line (left-to-right) of Nate Solder, Josh Kline, Bryan Stork, Ryan Wendell and Marcus Cannon Sunday against the Bills — Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo, particularly Garoppolo in the second half, were under constant pressure all game long.

Overall, the Bills hit Patriots quarterbacks six times and recorded four sacks in the game. This comes after last week’s game against the Jets where the Patriots were reshuffling their line all game without Connolly to give Brady more time, but allowed a season-high four sacks and 11 quarterback hits.

“We didn’t play very well. We just didn’t do our jobs,” Wendell said Sunday.

The Patriots did some reshuffling again against the Bills, as late in the first half the Patriots subbed out Kline, and replaced him with Wendell at left guard and Cameron Fleming at right guard. Then, just before the half Solder appeared to injure his right leg on a play he was called for holding on. He finished the last minute of the half before limping to the locker room. In the second half, Cannon moved to left tackle, so the line went: Cannon, Kline, Stork, Wendell, Fleming.

Missing key players in Connolly and Vollmer, then losing Solder in the game made things difficult to get any sort of continuity up front.

‘€œIt was a good opportunity to get some other guys some reps,” Wendell said. “We’€™re going to need everybody moving forward. You never knew who’€™s going to get called up, so a game like this was a great opportunity to get a lot of those guys more reps that they normally don’€™t get.’€

Solder was announced as having a knee injury, and was originally questionable before being ruled out later in the game. If Solder were not ready for the playoff game in two weeks, the Patriots do not have a true “swing tackle” to step in. Solder was the only player on the offensive line to start all 16 games this season.

Cannon played left tackle in the second half, but he’s struggled much of the season when he’s seen time. Fleming has played some snaps at left tackle, but the rookie has only been active for seven games this season, primarily seeing his snaps as an extra blocking tigh end. Jordan Devey is also on option, but he saw limited action Sunday, even with all the injuries up front.

The bottom line is there is no easy solution if Solder were to miss a game.

“I think everything works together and the protection and the routes and the throws and the catches ‘€“ offensive football and scoring points is about great execution,” Brady said of the offensive line and being comfortable in the pocket. “If it’€™s anything less than that, it’€™s hard to score unless somebody makes really a spectacular play. So if you have a breakdown on a throw, if you have a breakdown on a block, if you have a breakdown on a route, usually it doesn’€™t result in a good play. And I think obviously in the first half, we didn’€™t have enough good plays to score enough points. We’€™re trying. Hopefully we do a lot better job in a couple weeks. That’€™s what it’€™s going to take.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss the important takeaways after the Patriots lost to Buffalo Bills, 17-9, in season finale for both teams at Gillette Stadium. The game had no playoff impact on the Patriots, who finished 12-4 and will enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Tom Brady played just a half and was replaced by rookie Jimmy Garoppolo to start the second half. Brady completed just 8-of-16 passes for 80 yards while Garoppolo was 10-of-17 for 90 yards.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Despite not playing his best Sunday, Tom Brady and the offense "confident" going into the postseason. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Despite not playing their best Sunday, Tom Brady and the offense “confident” going into the postseason. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — It wasn’t ideally how Tom Brady and the offense wanted to go into the postseason.

While priority No. 1 was getting into the postseason healthy — which for the most part the Patriots did with only Nate Solder getting banged up in the game, along with a number of premier players being inactive — the offense led by Tom Brady didn’t have the best of days in their 17-9 loss to the Bills in the regular-season finale.

Brady played only the first half in the loss and went 8-for-16 for 80 yards. Four of the five drives led by Brady went for 18 yards or less — the longest was a 80-yard drive at the end of the first quarter, which eventually stalled and ended with a Stephen Gostkowski 24-yard field goal.

The offense was missing valuable pieces in Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Dan Connolly and Sebastian Vollmer, but there was never any flow or rhythm with Brady in the game, as the team finished with just 121 net yards at the half. Even with their performance Sunday, Brady is confident in the offense going into the postseason.

“We’€™re confident. We have a lot of confidence as an offense,” Brady said. “We’€™ve been able to score points against a lot of good teams, a lot of good defenses. Nothing that we’€™ve done this past season is going to help in two weeks from now. What’€™s going to matter is how well we prepare this week and how well we prepare next week and how ready we are to go whenever we play. We’€™ll have a lot of confidence. I’€™m not worried about us lacking confidence going out there and executing. We’€™ve got a lot of good players.”

The game did not matter in terms of postseason positioning, as the team had already clinched the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC, so ultimately losing the game was not a big deal in terms of playoff positioning. It did snap a few personal streaks, as Brady’s 43 straight home winning streak against AFC opponents was snapped, and the game marked the first regular-season game at home where he failed to throw a touchdown pass since Sept. 7, 2008, also the game he tore his ACL. Before that was Dec. 16, 2007 against the Jets.

As a team, the loss snapped an NFL record 35 straight home wins against the AFC, a 17-game home winning streak against the AFC East and a 16-game winning streak at home overall.

“I think we tried to go out there and give a great effort,” Brady said. “They’€™re a good team. They make it tough on you. They made it tough on us down there when we played them and they made it tough today. They’€™ve got a good team, but we’€™re looking forward. It’€™s tough ‘€“ we always hate losing, absolutely. We didn’€™t make enough plays to win, but hopefully we make them in a couple weeks.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

A healthy Rob Gronkowski will make the difference for the Patriots this postseason. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)FOXBORO -- All snaps are not created equal.



Nick Caserio has reportedly been extended by the Patriots through to 2020. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)FOXBORO -- Continuity is everything in Foxboro. So is familiarity and trust.



MIKE PETRAGLIA

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FOXBORO — It was an usual couple of minutes at Gillette Stadium following the Patriots’ 17-9 loss to the Bills in the regular-season finale, as coach Bill Belichick did not speak to the media at the podium immediately after

Bill Belichick said after missing his usual postgame press conference Sunday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick said, “I’ll be alright” after missing his usual postgame press conference Sunday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — It was an usual couple of minutes at Gillette Stadium following the Patriots’ 17-9 loss to the Bills in the regular-season finale, as coach Bill Belichick did not speak to the media at the podium immediately after the game.

It was announced that he would hold a conference call later in the evening because he was meeting with the trainers, but it was nothing serious.

Belichick held a conference call with the media at 5 p.m. — about 45 minutes after he normally would have spoken — saying everything was OK.

“I just want to apologize to everybody,” Belichick said. “I didn’€™t want to hold anybody up here today. I had to spend a few minutes in the training room after the game — nothing serious, just a little thing to look at with the trainers and a doctor. Like I said, I didn’€™t want to hold up everybody’€™s story and all that.”

When asked to expand on what forced him to the trainer’s room, Belichick didn’t have much to add.

“It’s no big deal. I don’t want to get into it,” said Belichick. “I’ll be alright.”

As for the game itself, the team went into it without many of its key players, as Rob Gronkowski, Jonas Gray, Julian Edelman, Sebastian Vollmer, Dan Connolly, Brandon Browner and Dont’a Hightower were all inactive. Tom Brady played just a half  before turning it over to Jimmy Garoppolo for the second half. Brady went 8-for-16 for 80 yards, while Garoppolo went 10-for-17 for 90 yards, and the Patriots didn’t reach the end zone for the first time in a game since Oct. 7 of last season against the Bengals.

Defensively, most of the starters played just a half as well, with Chandler Jones, Vince Wilfork and Rob Ninkovich being a few exceptions playing into the third quarter.

“It was a competitive game,” said Belichick. “We just couldn’€™t make enough plays, really at any point in the game — the beginning or the end, in any phase of the game to ever really take control of it or be in a position to win it. [I’€™m] looking forward to moving ahead this week to work on things that we need to work on. Once we find out who we’€™re going to play then obviously we’€™re looking forward to the postseason. We just have to take it as it comes, but certainly there are things that we can do this week that will help us in the long run so we’€™ll try to hit on some of those.”

As for the decision in making Gronkowski specifically inactive — preventing him from playing a full season since 2011 — Belichick spoke of the team as a whole.

“We had some guys that have played a lot of football for us,” Belichick said. “We felt like today would be an opportunity for us to have some guys who haven’€™t played as much to get an opportunity to play. That’€™s kind of the way we managed the team. We tried to create opportunities for some guys that the experience I think will benefit them going forward. Based on that, that’€™s how we handled the playing time and the inactives.”

Prior to the game, it was reported that the Patriots’ extended Nick Caserio, their director of player personnel’s contract through the end of the 2020 season. Belichick noted just how important he is to the organization.

“I think Nick does a great job for us,” said Belichick. “He probably does more than any other person in his position in the league in terms of his amount of responsibility, the number of different things he does on the coaching and the scouting level. He’€™s really a valuable guy that has great working knowledge of really everything that we do on the scouting end and the coaching end. So he’€™s able to really interface with everybody and not only evaluate players, but has a great understanding of our schemes and the coaches and coaching points and so forth –€“ what would fit those, to be able to identify the type of fit that guys have coming in here, or lack of fit as the case would be, whatever it happens to be.”

 

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — Brandon Spikes’ biggest impact on the game Sunday wasn’t anything he did during the game, as he was virtually a no-show, finishing with zero tackles, but it was his emotion before the game that fired the Bills up in their 17-9 win over the Patriots, snapping a 13-game road losing streak against the Patriots.