The Patriots have built an offense based on replaceable parts over the years, with Tom Brady surrounded by a revolving cast.
But last night, the absence of one player in particular showed that may no longer be the case.
Without rookie running back Sony Michel (inactive with a knee injury), the Patriots offense ground to a near-halt last night, and they were so desperate to portray a running game that wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was pressed into action.
“They made us grind it out, grind out every yard,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said, via Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston.
Prior to leaving Week Seven’s game against the Bears with a knee injury, Michel had rushed for 316 yards the previous three weeks, becoming the kind of bell cow back they’ve lacked. And his absence was noticeable.
The Patriots ran 26 times for 76 yards against the Bills, with Patterson’s 22-yard run late making a big portion of that. But without a steady running threat, the offense stalled in general, as they were forced to settle for field goals.
“They made it tough on us,” quarterback Tom Brady said. “We’ll take the win however we can get it. They don’t give up any big plays. We’d get in the red area but couldn’t get in the end zone. If we scored those touchdowns we’d feel a lot better but they’ve been playing good all year.”
Since Michel’s injury, the Patriots have scored 35 offensive points in the last seven quarters, making it clear how much they’ve missed their rookie back.