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Buffalo Bills 24, New England Patriots 10: Rapid recap and notes

A divisional win on Thursday Night Football

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

On their third Thursday appearance of the 2022 season, the Buffalo Bills recorded their third such win by a 24-10 score over the New England Patriots. The Bills held Mac Jones and Rhamondre Stevenson in check for the whole game, and avoided mistakes on offense, following the script toward a convincing win over their divisional rival.

The Patriots fudged up their opening drive when Mac Jones and Rhamondre Stevenson couldn’t cleanly complete a handoff on 3rd & 1. Stevenson fumbled the ball and the Patriots were forced to punt.

On their opening drive, the Bills advanced deep into Patriots territory with a 19-yard pass to Stefon Diggs and a 21-yarder to Nyheim Hines, but shot themselves in the foot by committing two penalties and giving up a sack to Josh Allen. They settled for a field goal and the 3-0 lead.

The Patriots jumped into the lead on the next possession, set up by a handful of short passes by Mac Jones. On a run-pass option, Jones saw a two-on-one blocking opportunity on a bubble screen and threw to Marcus Jones — a defender playing his first ever snap on offense. Jones caught the pass, dodged two tackle attempts, and outran the rest of the Bills until he reached the end zone.

The Bills snatched the lead back from there, on a drive powered by rookie running back James Cook. He touched the ball five times, gaining 47 yards, and Gabe Davis chipped in 22 yards by drawing a pass-interference penalty. That set up Diggs to win a one-on-one matchup in the end zone and catch an eight-yard touchdown from Allen.

With Buffalo winning 10-7, they marched right ahead on growing their lead to 10 points. Shaq Lawson landed a TFL, then nearly forced a safety when he caused Mac Jones to commit intentional grounding at the one-yard line. That set the Pats up to punt two plays later. Buffalo then put together a 14-play, 56-yard drive that converted four different third downs. Allen finished the drive by rolling right until he was out of room, then hopping into the air and muscling a throw across his body to Davis.

Both defenses stepped up on the ensuing possessions — a Patriots three-and-out, a Bills three-and-out, another Patriots three-and-out, and then a Bills drive that went from great to ugly: a 41-yard Diggs touchdown was negated by penalty, and two plays later, the Patriots sacked Allen and stripped the ball free, setting them up for a two-minute drill.

It took only two plays to put the Patriots at the edge of field goal territory, but the Bills clamped down from there (and Mac Jones made some questionable choices of targets given the game situation), which led to a 48-yard field goal attempt by Nick Folk. The kick was on target, but too shallow: it doinked off the uprights.

Allen wanted to improve on his 23-second scoring drive from last week, and ripped a deep throw with only ten seconds remaining in the half — but it was nearly picked off. So the Bills settled down and went into the locker room with a 17-7 lead.

Both teams traded punts out of halftime, then the Bills established another long march. On a 15-play drive that began at their own six-yard line, the Bills spent the next nine minutes delivering jabs and body blows to the Patriots’ defense. Devin Singletary finished the drive with a one-yard run, his fourth rushing touchdown of the year.

Leading 24-7 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Bills had a chance to effectively end the game when they forced a Patriots punt on the next drive. Their next drive, four runs and two short passes, consumed four and a half minutes of clock but ended with a punt.

Luckily, New England didn’t have it in them to make a comeback. Their next drive consumed nearly the entirety of the remaining clock, ended with a field goal, and their onside kick was recovered by Buffalo, who were able to kneel out the rest of the time.

Injury report

  • Offensive tackle David Quessenberry came up limping on Buffalo’s first drive — it seemed like he’d tweaked his ankle. Quessenberry had his ankle taped up and played on, but in the third quarter he was taken out of the game, and Bobby Hart replaced him. Quessenberry came back into the game after missing a few plays.
  • Cornerback Tre’Davious White suffered a stinger in the first half, but was quickly cleared and returned to the game.
  • Tight end Dawson Knox was shaken up and attended to in the third quarter, but returned to the game very quickly.
  • Wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie also left the game in an injury timeout after being shaken up at the start of the fourth quarter.
  • Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips injured his shoulder trying to leap and tackle a scrambling Mac Jones at the end of the game tonight.

Quick hits

  • Buffalo ended up with 37 rush attempts to 33 pass attempts and two sacks. And yet, even though they had more runs than passes, this game doesn’t even rank top-five in terms of rushing yards gained this year. It was just a low-key, grind it out and avoid mistakes kind of game.
  • Reggie Bush still outranks Nyheim Hines on Buffalo’s career rushing list, somehow. Hines, who entered the night with -5 rushing yards, carried twice and lost three yards. It wasn’t all bad, though! Hines converted a third down with a 21-yard reception.
  • Meanwhile, is it possible running back James Cook may have ascended to the lead running back role tonight? He crossed the century mark on yards from scrimmage for the first time in his career, and led all Bills RBs in carries and pass targets.
  • It took 24 drives and nearly a whole calendar year, but the Patriots finally forced a Bills punt just before halftime.
  • Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds technically wasn’t awarded any TFLs on the stat sheet, but he made back-to-back tackles at the line of scrimmage to snuff out two running plays.
  • Safety Jordan Poyer had a pick taken away by video review, but still came out with five tackles, a TFL, and a pass breakup.
  • Backup defensive ends stepping up: Shaq Lawson had a TFL and nearly a safety. A.J. Epenesa had two TFLs and a sack.
  • Damar Hamlin was ejected from the game in the fourth quarter after he delivered a bone-crunching shoulder check to Jakobi Meyers’ helmet. It was a bang-bang play, but unfortunate how it ended up.

Next week

A rematch with the New York Jets, currently 7-4 and in third place in the division. The Bills will look for redemption after their 20-17 loss a few weeks ago, this time in their own house.