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Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots: Second-half open thread

The Bills need to reset and step up on offense if they hope to exit Week 17 victorious

New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

What a bizarre half of Buffalo Bills football. The Bills lead the New England Patriots 20-14 at halftime, but an annoyed and baffled Bills Mafia crowd has let the home team know what’s what.

Before either offense had even set foot on the playing field, the Bills found themselves in a seven-point hole thanks to a terrible effort by the team’s special teams unit on the opening kickoff. Just kick the ball out of the end zone, please.

That’s not how you plan starting a game with playoffs on the brain. Maybe that’s part of the issue at hand. Looking past an opponent. Maybe. Or it’s just more of the same old same with execution errors plaguing the Bills at the worst times.

Head coach Bill Belichick very clearly had his defense motivated to face Buffalo’s offense, and the result has brought a very frustrated Josh Allen to Highmark Stadium. When Allen plays frustrated, arm punts ensue — especially when he’s already playing a very off game overall.

The first quarter took 55 actual minutes, thanks in large part to the enormous amount of incomplete passes by quarterbacks Josh Allen (7-of-20 for 46 yards, one INT, one rush TD) and Bailey Zappe (9-of-17 for 113 yards, 3 INT, one rush TD). Both are far more dangerous as runners today, which is a remarkable thing to say about the observably slow Zappe.

Yet, the Bills are winning and that’s thanks to the generous gifts New England brought to Orchard Park, NY. Four turnovers in the first half alone, with opportunities for more. That’s the sole reason Buffalo leads these pesky Patriots. Defensive tackle Ed Oliver continues his fantastic 2023 campaign, and with his partner in crime DaQuan Jones back in the fold, he’s ever more dangerous.

Cornerback Rasul Douglas continues to prove invaluable, with a pair of interceptions — one of which went for six. Cornerback Christian Benford also forced a fumble/recovery.

Inside the two-minute warning, the Bills were just two of eight on third down. That’s not going to get it done the rest of the way, nevermind in the postseason. Allen is very clearly struggling, and it’s pretty obvious Belichick and the defense has gotten into his head. Whether some of that has to do with interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady’s play calls or otherwise is not ours to solve. But there remains a very concerning lack of consistency by any of the team’s pass catchers. Any of them.

Let’s hope we just witnessed the team’s worst football of the season, and that the best is yet to come. There’s too much at stake to allow a game to slip away due to their own mistakes — and while winning the turnover battle.

Here’s your second-half open thread for the remainder of the game. As always, be kind and welcoming to all, and Go Bills!