The difference between the two teams in the first half was a special teams score. On a Buffalo Bills punt, The New England Patriots overloaded the protection and blocked the punt, returning it for a touchdown. Otherwise, the offense was pretty even in terms of both yards and time of possession. The Bills succeeded with their ground game, powered by Frank Gore, and the Patriots with Tom Brady’s arm. The only team to find the end zone was New England. Off of one of Josh Allen’s turnovers, Brady perfectly placed a pass for James White on the wheel route to put the Patriots on the goalline, and Brandon Bolden took a jet sweep in for the score. Stephen Gostkowski missed the extra point on that play, and Buffalo missed a 49-yard field goal just before the half, leading to a 13-3 halftime score.
Coming out of the half, Buffalo’s opening script was exactly what the doctor ordered. Allen completed six consecutive passes and leaped over his linemen to scrape in for a one-yard touchdown on their first drive, cutting the lead to 13-10. Both teams clamped down their defenses after that. However, Allen threw another interception—his third of the day—gifting the Patriots great field position. They would turn that into a field goal. Every one of New England’s points came from a turnover today.
With around 15 minutes remaining on the game clock, Allen faced a 3rd-and-8 situation. He scampered for the first down, and took a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit from Jonathan Jones. It knocked him out cold, though he was up and walking off the field pretty quickly. The Bills turned to Matt Barkley to finish the game.
Barkley succeeded in bringing the Bills near the end zone with a sideline pass to John Brown, but the Bills failed to punch it in after facing first-and-goal from the three. On fourth down, trailing 16-10, they opted to try for the touchdown, and the pass fell incomplete.
Buffalo’s defense stepped up and forced another Patriots punt, putting Barkley back to work on the comeback attempt with three minutes remaining. He hit his first few passes to put Buffalo past midfield, needing a touchdown to win the game. Barkley threw two incompletions, then was hit while attempting to throw on third and 10. The ball flew high into the air, landing in a Patriots player’s hands. New England kneeled for the win, 16-10.
- The big news is Josh Allen’s head injury. Scrambling for a first down, Allen took a nasty helmet-to-helmet hit from Jonathan Jones and dropped like a bag of rocks. He was evaluated for a head injury and jogged into the locker room.
- Tre’Davious White hurt his ankle during the game, but taped it up and returned to play the rest of the day.
- Josh Allen’s touchdown (on a QB sneak) was the first touchdown allowed by the Patriots’ defense this year.
- Stephen Hauschka missed a 49-yard field-goal attempt at the end of the first half. Those three points stood out as a trade-off when the Bills faced fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line, in a six point game.
- Before Josh Allen left the game, he was 13/28 for 153 yards and three interceptions. Most of the nation was watching this game today, and their impression of Allen was pretty negative.
- The Patriots seemed to succeed against Allen in part because they exploited his tendency to roll out to the right when he didn’t like his first option. They flooded that part of the field with spare defenders and forced Allen into tackles or off-balance throws.
- Tremaine Edmunds was all over the field today, shutting down runs left and right.
- Micah Hyde, the pulse of the defense, kept things close with an end zone interception to kill a Patriots drive in the first half.
- Terrible day for Bills tight end Lee Smith. He’s a scrapper and an instigator, but was called on four penalties today. That offset his usual blocking contributions.
- By all accounts, the Bills’ defense has solved Tom Brady. He was 18-of-39 (46.2%) for 150 yards (3.8 YPA), no touchdowns, and an interception. Since Sean McDermott took over for Buffalo, he’s thrown three touchdowns and five interceptions.
- The Patriots running game was also unimpressive against Buffalo’s defense. 23 carries for 74 yards (3.2 YPC)
- Buffalo was much more successful on offense, except for the whole five turnovers problem. The quarterbacks combined to be 22/44 (50%) for 240 yards (6.4 YPA). But that also featured four interceptions.
- The running game had a day, but Buffalo had trouble working it into crucial situations. 22 carries for 135 yards and a touchdown.