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Buffalo Bills 17, New England Patriots 24: Rapid recap and notes

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The AFC East division title hasn’t changed hands yet.

The Buffalo Bills gave their all against the New England Patriots, but will leave Foxborough without a win yet again. Buffalo didn’t have enough big plays to open a large lead, and the Bills’ defense couldn’t contain New England’s myriad of skill players. The Patriots came back to win 24-17 in this one.

The first half played awfully one-sided except the score. Though the Bills forced a fumble on the opening possession and turned that into a field goal, they punted on their next three possessions. Meanwhile, the Patriots strung together an 11-play drive and a 17-play drive to take a 10-3 lead. They took over at midfield after Buffalo’s third punt, but the Bills forced a four-and-out when Kevin Johnson tackled N’Keal Harry for no gain. With 33 seconds remaining in the half, Josh Allen somehow orchestrated a two-minute drill touchdown drive for what felt like the first time all year. He threw a perfect pass over Dawson Knox’s shoulder to bring the ball to the one-yard line, and two plays later hit Dion Dawkins for the touchdown. Stephen Hauschka tied the game at 10.

The Bills punted to start the second half, and New England responded by taking a 13-10 lead on their next drive. Then Buffalo snagged the lead, when Allen threw an immaculate pass to John Brown for a 53-yard touchdown. He was under pressure from two separate defenders, but hit Brown in stride and beyond the safety.

After trading punts, the Patriots executed another punishing 11-play, 77-yard drive, but Buffalo stood strong at the goal line. New England closed the gap to 17-16 kicking a field goal from the two-yard line.

Buffalo went three-and-out on its next drive, and the Patriots took control of the game on theirs. Seven plays, 59 yards, and a two-point conversion to stretch their lead to 7 points.

The Bills took over with 5:06 remaining, down 24-17. Allen injected ice water into his veins, with a 13-yard gain, 12-yard gain, and an 11-yard gain, putting the Bills at the New England 39. A few plays later, under pressure again, he hit Cole Beasley for 25 yards —the Bills were suddenly knocking at the door of the end zone. But a QB sweep was tackled for no gain. Then Allen couldn’t fit a touch pass to Dawson Knox in the back of the end zone. Allen was sacked on third down, and on fourth down his desperation heave to the end zone was swatted away. For the second time this year, the Bills gave the Patriots everything they had, and it wasn’t enough.

Injury Notes

  • Center Mitch Morse left the game with a possible ankle or foot injury in the fourth quarter after Buffalo converted a fourth-and-one. He walked off the field with assistance. Jon Feliciano replaced him at center, with Spencer Long filling in at right guard.
  • For the Patriots, right tackle Marcus Cannon left with a leg injury and did not return to the game. Also, Julian Edelman departed with a possible concussion, but returned to play out the string.

Miscellaneous

  • Josh Allen’s 53-yard touchdown pass to John Brown was Buffalo’s longest play from scrimmage all season.
  • It was also Allen’s second successful deep pass of the day. He also dropped one over Dawson Knox’s shoulder for a 33-yarder that set up Buffalo’s first touchdown.
  • That first touchdown was a trick play to Dion Dawkins leaking behind the defense. It’s identical to the touchdown he caught last season.
  • Great day for Cole Beasley, who came up in the clutch on numerous occasions. He had seven catches for 108 yards, his second-best production of the year.
  • It might not feel like the Bills had a very balanced offensive game plan, but they actually had 23 rushes and 26 passes.
  • The running game had no success all day—15 carries for 46 yards by Devin Singletary.
  • Solid performance by Allen against New England’s elite defense—13-of-26 for 208 yards and two touchdowns, with no turnovers.
  • One stat to explain Buffalo’s struggles to defend the Patriots: 0 sacks and 0 passes defended today.
  • Tom Brady had a heckuva day, 26 for 33 for 271 yards and a touchdown. Most of his incompletions were passes he threw away on purpose. He was in the zone all game long.
  • The Patriots nearly doubled the Bills in time of possession: 39 minutes versus 21.