Is any NFL team hotter than the Buffalo Bills? For the fourth week in a row, the Bills dominated their opponent on national television and cruised to a win—this time over the New England Patriots. While 2019 played a similar role in beating teams that long held playoff nightmares over the franchise, 2020 has been all about exorcising demons and resetting narratives for the Buffalo Bills, and the latest casualty of this crusade was a 20-year streak since the Bills last swept the Patriots. After tonight’s 38-9 victory, that streak resets.
The Bills barely scraped out a victory against the Patriots in their first meeting of the year, but tonight’s team has fundamentally transformed in the interim. They forced the Patriots to bench Cam Newton in the third quarter. Meanwhile, the Bills benched Josh Allen, to bask in his victory, with 12 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. They even ran the show on special teams, with a 49-yard kickoff return and a successful fake punt that helped set up scoring drives. It was a magnificent, cathartic performance from start to finish.
Allen has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL this year, but Bill Belichick’s defense was always his kryptonite. In four career games, Allen had three passing touchdowns, six interceptions, and a 57.8 passer rating. It helps that Stephon Gilmore didn’t play, but Allen was nothing short of a juggernaut tonight—27-of-36 (75.0 percent) for 320 yards and four touchdowns and a 138.7 passer rating. Allen added four carries for 35 yards. His favorite target, Stefon Diggs, eviscerated the Patriots. J.C. Jackson had some early success, but he could not contain Diggs, who caught nine passes for 145 yards and three touchdowns tonight.
Defensively, the Bills knew they faced a one-dimensional offense, and their game plan attacked that perfectly. Newton (and later, Jarrett Stidham) had no chance against this Bills defense. They combined for a pitiful passing performance: 9-for-21 (42.9 percent) for 78 yards. The Bills took away 22 yards on three sacks. The Patriots were able to find some early holes in the running game, and they had 145 rushing yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, but as the Bills kept piling up the points, the New England ground game became irrelevant.
Buffalo advances to a 12-3 record with tonight’s win, and they’ve guaranteed that they’ll either hold the second or third seed in the AFC playoffs tonight. They have one game remaining against the Miami Dolphins, but are otherwise set to cruise into the playoffs as the team that no one wants to face.
Jordan Poyer was taken out of the game late in the second quarter after a helmet-to-helmet collision with Cam Newton. It seemed to be precautionary, more than anything else. Dean Marlowe replaced him for the rest of the half, and Poyer was back on the field in the second half.
Cole Beasley awkwardly locked up his left leg when trying to make a catch in the fourth quarter. He walked into the locker room before the end of the game.
- Jaquan Johnson completed a pass to Siran Neal on Buffalo’s fake punt in the fourth quarter. It’s the first successful fake punt by the Bills since November 11th, 2018. Want to flex on Bill Belichick’s team? Outplaying them on special teams is how you do it.
- A game ball might have to go to Neal, who didn’t just come up big on the fake punt, but also had a tremendous open-field tackle on a kickoff return to start one drive at the ten-yard line. He’s a low-key special teams ace for the Bills.
- Dawson Knox dropped an easy touchdown catch in the first quarter, but came up in the clutch on several other opportunities the rest of the game. He might finally be developing into the all-around tight end the Bills are looking for.
- Massive credit goes to the Bills’ offensive line—in the fourth quarter ESPN showed a graphic for Josh Allen’s night: 36 drop backs, one hit/hurry/sack. When Allen’s comfortable, he’s nearly invincible.
- Matt Milano is back, y’all. Tonight’s leading tackler, Milano had eight tackles and a sack.
PANDA RECORD WATCH!
- Stefon Diggs broke the Bills’ single-season receiving yards record in style tonight—turning a crossing route upfield for a 50-yard touchdown.
- With four passing touchdowns tonight, Josh Allen now owns the single-season passing touchdown record.
- Allen also needed 360 passing yards to pass Bledsoe for the most passing yards in a season. The Bills pulled him from the game early in the fourth quarter, after he threw for 320. He’ll need 40 passing yards against the Dolphins to claim that record.
- Allen did earn the single-season total yards record, taken from Drew Bledsoe.
- If Allen sits out the final game of the season, he will have set the single-season passer rating and completion percentage records, too.
- The Bills came close, but couldn’t get that record-breaking 14th unique touchdown receiver tonight. Taiwan Jones dropped a gimme catch in the end zone, and Devin Singletary saw two pass targets in the red zone, but couldn’t find the right situation for a touchdown.
- If Cole Beasley had 50 receiving yards tonight, he’d hit 1,000 on the season—giving the Bills their first pair of 1,000 yard receivers since Eric Moulds and Peerless Price in 2002. Unfortunately, he only had three catches for 17 yards.