Maybe it was the fact that Tom Brady was having a hard time solving the Bills defense. It was his first time seeing Sean McDermott's scheme with Buffalo's personnel.
Maybe it was the fact that Brady already knew that he screwed up the end of the first Patriots drive of the game.
Maybe it was the fact that Josh McDaniels hounded Brady more than Brady would have liked the two met on the sidelines following the drive.
Whatever it was, as Brady approached the bench near the end of the first quarter, with McDaniels chirping at him from behind, the Patriots quarterback snapped. McDaniels knew he hit a nerve, turned and waited for the effects to subside as Brady unleashed his tirade. Team chaplain Jack Easterby went to restrain Brady, while David Andrews strolled on by as if nothing was happening.
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As far as Brady was concerned, it was nothing.
"Just football," Brady said after beating Buffalo, 23-3. "We've been around each other a lot. I love Josh."
Brady and the Patriots moved the ball on their first drive. They just couldn't finish. Brady scrambled for no gain on a first-down play when he couldn't find any open receivers down the field. After a Dion Lewis run lost three yards, Brady dropped back to pass again and missed Brandin Cooks over the middle.
The play meant that Stephen Gostkowski would have to try a 50-yard field goal at windy New Era Field, which bothered Brady. It's just that usually when the Patriots are held to field goals, it doesn't seem to bother him as much as he was in this instance. That led to him having to answer some questions after the game.
"I wish we'd score every time we touch the ball and score touchdowns on every possession," he said. "I thought they played pretty good on defense. They did a good job. It's a new defense, new scheme, new players. Just gotta learn and adjust and try to get the win. Any time you win on the road against a division opponent, it's a good win."
Brady had plenty to be happy about. He tied Drew Bledsoe for most wins in Buffalo since 2001 (14), and his team moved to 10-2. But he was sacked three times, he threw an interception, and he didn't throw a touchdown pass for the first time since the season-opener.
That is to say, it wasn't perfect. And when a couple of perfectionists like Brady and McDaniels don't like what they see, sometimes disagreements happen. And occasionally those disagreements play out on camera in front of the football-watching world.
After Sunday's spat, though, both Brady and McDaniels were soon together back on the bench, going over the pictures to try to get things right for the next drive. Water under the bridge.
"It's nothing," Brady said. "It's just football. It's just football. Two competitive people. That's just the way it goes."