Through the first half of their Monday Night Football matchup with the New England Patriots, the Buffalo Bills hold a 24-9 lead. It feels like a year has passed since the Bills barely eked out a victory in their last game with the Patriots, but it’s only been two months. Ever since that game’s end, they’ve played with much more confidence—and it’s obvious tonight. Buffalo is pulling out all the stops, including their first fake punt of the season, to build a lead that the run-heavy Patriots won’t be able to overcome. Including that fake punt (a pass from Jaquan Johnson to Siran Neal) the Bills are three-for-three tonight on fourth down.
Buffalo went with an extremely ground-focused offense earlier in the season, but tonight’s game plan is much closer to their typical script. Josh Allen has two touchdown passes, but he could have had more—Dawson Knox and Taiwan Jones both dropped wide-open touchdown catches, and Gabriel Davis had another touchdown overridden by Bill Belichick calling a timeout before the play began (that drive, at least, ended with a touchdown catch by Lee Smith).
Defensively, the Bills have had occasional issues with gap integrity against the varied Patriots run game. Sony Michel and J.J. Taylor both have long runs, and Cam Newton scrambled for a nine-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Although they’ve given up 129 yards on only 16 carries, they’ve almost entirely eliminated the passing element from New England’s game.
Late in the second quarter, Bills safety Jordan Poyer was taken out of the game for a concussion check, after he had a helmet-to-helmet tackle on Cam Newton. Dean Marlowe took Poyer’s spot in the lineup, and quickly said hello with a walloping sack on Cam Newton.
The Bills will receive the opening kickoff of the second half. They’re well on their way to win number 12. All they need to do is maintain this lead, and maybe break a few records on the way. Here’s your open thread for the second half. Go Bills!