FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – At 6-5, the New England Patriots entered “Thursday Night Football” two games away from the Buffalo Bills 8-3. And while the Bills were tied with the Miami Dolphins atop the AFC East, they were 0-2 in the division.
The Bills handled the Patriots with ease on Thursday, earning a 24-10 division victory and pushing the Patriots past the playoffs.
For the first time since injuring his right elbow against the Jets in Week 9, quarterback Josh Allen stood close to midfield and threw passes during forward warmups -match. A step back to normality after a full week of practice.
What followed in the Bills’ 24-10 win over the Patriots was similar. Buffalo seemed more in sync and closer to the team that put in dominant performances heading into the Week 7 bye, albeit against a struggling New England attack, and became the first team to beat the Patriots of the Belichick era in double digits in three straight games.
The Bills nearly doubled the Patriots’ possession time (38:08 to 21:52) and held a double-digit second-quarter lead for the remainder of the game. Allen looked more in control, completing 22 of 33 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns with a fumble, while becoming the first player in NFL history with three seasons of 25 passing touchdowns and five rushing touchdowns. floor.
The key streak for the Bills and Allen offense to secure the team’s first AFC East win of the season was a 15-play, 94-yard second-half drive that fell nearly nine minutes behind. . Buffalo proved at a pivotal moment that Allen & Co. could lead a practice and sideline a team.
Promising trend: The Bills started the game early with rookie James Cook leading the way. The ground attack helped set up two over seven-minute drives – including a 15-game drive that was the longest of the season – after going into the night with three such drives all season.
The offense had three straight drives to start the game, and it went a long way when the offense fell into a lull late in the second quarter and into the third. Cook has also shown how dynamic he can be with big game-long opportunities, even with an offensive line that’s not at its best.
Describe the game in two words: Victory needed. The Bills are in the midst of one of the team’s biggest stretches of the season with three straight games against AFC East opponents, and starting with a convincing road win over the Patriots was important for the prospects. of the team to have home field advantage.
Under-the-radar stat that matters: Cornerback Tre’Davious White played the second most snaps of any cornerback for the Bills at 62.7%. For White — coming back from a torn ACL last Thanksgiving — and this defense, it’s a big step in the right direction. White played 15 snaps last week against the Lions, and the Bills clearly felt comfortable enough for him to play almost every series. After Von Miller was placed on injured reserve earlier Thursday, this is important news for this defense moving forward.
Stunning NFL Next Gen Stats: Allen was 0.3 yards from the sideline on his touchdown by wide receiver Gabe Davis in the second quarter. He was tied for closest to the sideline since NFL Next Gen Stats began tracking players in 2016. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts also threw a touchdown 0.3 yards from the sideline last season against the Dallas Cowboys.
Next game: vs. Jets (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)
New England Patriots
The New England Patriots’ offense, already ranked in the bottom third of the NFL in several key categories, fell further in Thursday night’s loss to the Buffalo Bills.
No juice. No chance of winning.
The Bills were in complete control of the game, with a possession time advantage of 38:08 to 21:52.
There was such promise in quarterback Mac Jones’ rookie season in 2021, but now there are more questions than answers.
Coach Bill Belichick has repeatedly said the responsibility lies with him when it comes to offense. He made the unconventional decision to replace deceased offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels with Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, two coaches whose primary backgrounds have been in defense and special teams, respectively.
Belichick also oversaw a streamlining of offense, with players saying the goal was to allow them to play faster.
It did not work.
Going into Thursday night, the Patriots were 31st in the red zone, 30th in interception percentage, 26th in sacks taken per pass play, 27th in first downs and 25th in third down conversions.
It only got worse Thursday night.
Describe the game in two words: Offensively offensive. It was hard to watch.
QB Breakdown: Jones continues to struggle, as the offense doesn’t seem to have anything defining itself. He went 22 of 36 for 195 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions. When opponents pressured Jones, the results were particularly poor. He entered Thursday without a touchdown and five interceptions under pressure this season, with a total QBR of 1.5. Zach Wilson (1.3) of the Jets was the only qualified quarterback with an inferior QBR in those situations. On Thursday, Jones was 5 of 13 for 25 yards on passes under pressure.
Disturbing trend: Bills quarterback Josh Allen deserves credit for making a standout play on an 8-yard touchdown pass to receiver Gabe Davis in the second quarter, but why did the Patriots defensive backs seem to stop playing when ‘Allen was approaching the sideline? It was one of many costly mistakes that continued to happen for the Patriots, which also included a late game penalty on a punt and a sloppy transfer on third-and-first on the first offensive drive of the team.
Silver Lining: Third-year defensive end Josh Uche was one of the best players on the field. He had two sacks in the first half, one of which forced a fumble. In the first half alone, he was credited with five quarterback pressures, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. It was a career high.
Stunning NFL Next Gen Stats: Rookie defensive back Marcus Jones, playing wide receiver, hit a high speed of 20.88 mph on his 48-yard first-quarter catch-up touchdown.
Next game: to Cardinals (8:15 p.m. ET, Monday)
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