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With a chance to definitively prove themselves as the best team in the AFC East, the Buffalo Bills didn’t miss their shot to show the New England Patriots who was boss.
Josh Allen threw for five touchdowns, the Bills scored on every offensive possession, and the Patriots’ offense couldn’t get on track in a 47-17 Buffalo blowout of the Patriots. It also marked the worst performance ever by New England’s defense in the Bill Belichick era.
With the loss, the Patriots’ season is now over.
Here’s how it all went down.
11:10 p.m.: Bears legend Mitchell Trubisky comes on to take the final kneeldowns, and Buffalo moves on to the next round with a resounding 47-17 beatdown of the Patriots. No doubt about who owns the AFC East after this one.
The Patriots’ surprise wild-card run ends early, but you could do a lot worse than a 10-win season with a rookie quarterback.
Thanks for following along with Boston.com this season. ‘Til next time.
11:06 p.m.: When one guy lets you down, throw it to Kendrick Bourne instead. That formula works for Mac Jones a second time as Bourne hauls in his second touchdown of the game following a drop by a wide-open Hunter Henry. (To be fair, Jones’s throw could’ve been better, just like on his earlier end-zone miss to Jakobi Meyers).
It’s 47-17 after Nick Folk’s extra point. Jones will likely finish this game 24-of-38 passing for 232 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Not his best game, but he’s hardly the biggest problem the Patriots had in this one.
11:02 p.m.: Two-minute warning for the game. At last.
10:59 p.m.: The Bills aren’t taking it easy on the Patriots up 37. They sent heat after Mac Jones on that third down, though he escaped a sack and got the ball to Kendrick Bourne. Then he converted New England’s third try on fourth down today to Jakobi Meyers.
Only about four minutes left in this one.
10:47 p.m.: Come on, now. Allen drops an absolute dime to Dawson Knox inside the 10-yard line, and only incidental contact with J.C. Jackson’s leg prevented a touchdown after Knox made the catch and rolled to the end zone.
Two plays later, offensive tackle Tommy Doyle slips into the flat for an easy touchdown throw from Allen.
The Patriots have blown out a few teams this year seemingly because they could. The Bills are returning the favor. It’s now 47-10.
10:43 p.m.: This is just getting funny at this point. The Patriots have to punt after a sack on Mac Jones, and Micah Hyde scoops up a punt on a bounce inside the Bills’ 10-yard line and busts out a 52-yard return. It looked for a moment like Hyde might even take it all the way for a score if he hadn’t tripped over his own blocker’s leg.
Yet another rough special teams play from a unit that has struggled this season. Not that it really matters at this point, of course.
10:34 p.m.: Just when it looked like the Bills were going to just chew clock and get Devin Singletary to 100 yards, Allen rifles a dart to Gabriel Davis for a 19-yard touchdown. It’s now an even 40 for the Bills after the extra point.
Allen now has as many touchdown passes (four) as incompletions. The Bills have scored touchdowns on all six of their drives and remain perfect on third down. Hard to know what else to say at this point.
10:30 p.m: The third quarter is finally over. It’s still 33-10 Bills, with Buffalo threatening to score again.
10:23 p.m.: As poor as much of the effort and execution has been on the Patriots’ side of things, Bourne (four catches for 65 yards, 1 TD; 14 yards rushing) has brought it whenever he’s had a chance tonight. His emergence has been a pleasant surprise after a learning curve to start the season.
10:20 p.m.: Touchdown, Patriots. Somehow, Kendrick Bourne ends up wide open in the left corner of the end zone, and Jones finds him on fourth-and-goal for the young quarterback’s first career postseason touchdown throw. That’s a good rebound after the rookie threw a bit behind Jakobi Meyers on third-and-goal, and the dependable receiver couldn’t haul it in.
Nick Folk’s extra point is good. 33-10 Bills.
10:18 p.m.: Jones finds Jakobi Meyers for a third-down conversion to set up first-and-goal, keeping the chance for a touchdown alive.
But it’s now third-and-goal after a stop on Damien Harris and a throwaway from Mac Jones under pressure.
10:12 p.m.: Jones connects deep to Bourne just over the arm of cornerback Dane Jackson, and the Patriots’ most electric receiver adds more yards after the catch to make it a 43-yard play all told.
Then Bourne gets a reverse and follows a block from Jones for another first down. New England has the ball at the Buffalo 14-yard line now.
10:06 p.m.: No idea what that defensive play-call was supposed to be, but it probably didn’t involve letting Emmanuel Sanders run wide open into the end zone.
Nonetheless, that’s what happened as Sanders hauls in a deep strike from Allen beyond the reach of Joejuan Williams. It looked like Williams thought he had safety help over the top, but there was no one in the vicinity.
Another missed extra point leaves the score 33-3 Bills. Small comfort.
10:03 p.m.: Bills stay perfect on third downs with another checkdown to Devin Singletary for a first down.
In his early years, you could wait for Allen to make the big mistake and throw the football to the defense. He’s just not doing that anymore. He’s playing it safe, and his playmakers are keeping the chains moving underneath.
If the Patriots’ defense wants the ball, they’re going to have to take it away by force.
9:59 p.m.: Disaster strikes once again as Mac Jones’s first-down throw is tipped in the air before it reaches Hunter Henry, and Levi Wallace grabs it off the rebound for the Bills’ second pick of Jones today.
Good play by the defense, but that throw also just didn’t have enough juice on it to sneak past Milano.
Bills are in great position to score.
9:57 p.m.: That’s a new wrinkle. Josh McDaniels dials up a screen against heavy pressure, and Rhamondre Stevenson picks up a first down with a physical run after the catch.
Then Damien Harris bulls ahead for another first down on the next play before giving way to Stevenson again. Harris has played somewhat sparingly today.
9:55 p.m.: New England gets ready on offense after another short return. They’d better have something good up their sleeve.
9:44 p.m.: It’s halftime in Orchard Park, and boy are there some big numbers happening on Buffalo’s side.
Josh Allen is 12-of-16 passing for 172 yards and two touchdowns to Dawson Knox and 63 yards rushing on five carries, which leads the Bills. That’s saying something given that Devin Singletary has 58 yards already on 11 carries to go with two touchdowns himself.
Buffalo has 19 first downs to the Patriots’ seven, including 10 on the ground.
Mac Jones only has 106 yards passing on 10-of-16 through the air along with his deep interception, but it’s hard to blame this loss too much on him. The Patriots don’t have any answers on defense, and they’re getting physically dominated all over the field.
9:38 p.m.: Jones makes a nice back-shoulder throw on a slot fade to Jakobi Meyers to convert on third down, but they don’t have enough to time to take a shot at the end zone. The Patriots have to settle for a 44-yard Nick Folk field goal before the half ends, and he drills it through. 27-3 Bills.
The Patriots will get the ball to start the third quarter.
9:36 p.m.: Getting sacked on a fake spike? Now that’s embarrassing. Jerry Hughes slips around Trent Brown to drop Mac Jones after he pretends to clock the ball, and the Patriots now face fourth down after a short completion.
9:30 p.m.: That’s now four touchdowns in four drives for the Bills as Singletary bounces it outside and storms in from 16 yards out. The extra point is good, and it’s 27-0.
The Bills have a cool 300 yards of total offense in the first half and haven’t failed to convert a third down yet. At this point, it’s already about playing for pride. A score before the half would make things feel less terrible.
9:27 p.m.: Practice squad-elevated cornerback De’Vante Bausby gets in the game this drive and what happens? Allen comes his way on a scramble and leaves Bausby’s ankles in the turf en route to a nine-yard gain. Life comes at you fast.
Two-minute warning in Orchard Park.
9:22 p.m.: First play of the Bills’ drive–a checkdown to Isaiah McKenzie–goes for 19 yards as the speedster hits the turbo down the sideline. Then, the second play goes up top to Stefon Diggs for 45 yards. Just like that, Buffalo is at New England’s 25-yard line.
The Bills are trying to put this away early.
9:18 p.m.: Jones and the offense falter after the penalty, and the Patriots will punt the ball again.
Star Lotulelei ate Jones up for a sack on second down, and then the young quarterback made a rookie mistake, taking a delay-of-game penalty to set up a third-and-20. Minimal chance to do anything with that.
Now would be a great time for a takeaway.
9:15 p.m.: New England will take that one. Buffalo’s Levi Wallace gets flagged for an obvious pass interference on Nelson Agholor on third-and-6, and the Patriots get a new set of downs.
Jones was trying to sneak another deep ball in between the corner and safety to Agholor and misfired too long. But Wallace was holding Agholor the entire time.
9:10 p.m.: The call stands, and the rout is on in Orchard Park as Singletary’s three-yard run officially goes in the books as a touchdown. The extra point is no good, which is about the only break New England has gotten so far. It’s now 20-0 with 7:20 left in the first half.
Sure, there’s plenty of time to get back into it, but it’s hard to see a comeback the way the two teams are playing.
9:07 p.m.: Devin Singletary appears to power his way into the end zone for another touchdown, but officials are about to review it to verify. Not that it matters the way this game is going: even if this score is overturned, the Bills will score in short order.
Singletary and Buffalo’s offensive line have simply worked them this drive. The line is blowing the Patriots away at the point of attack, and Singletary is running angry.
9:03 p.m.: Things are unraveling for the Patriots’ defense right now.
A 15-yard facemask penalty on Daniel Ekuale during a tackle of Bills’ running back Devin Singletary puts the ball at New England’s 20-yard line. They haven’t been able to contain Allen either from running or finding whoever he wants down the field, and they’re starting to compound their mistakes again.
The Bills could make this a three-score game soon.
8:54 p.m.: Damien Harris got the corner on a third-and-3 pitch, but he can’t extend the ball past the marker for the first down. The Patriots go three-and-out and punt the ball back to Buffalo.
This is dangerous territory for New England. Another touchdown from the Bills here, and the game might be just about over for a team that has struggled when playing from behind.
8:52 p.m.: That’s one quarter in the books. The score: Bills 14, Patriots 0.
8:48 p.m.: Olszewski wasn’t messing around there. He takes a knee with the ball about a yard into the end zone, and New England will start at the 25-yard line this time. Let’s see how Mac Jones rebounds from the interception.
8:43 p.m.: Touchdown, Bills as Allen rips an absolute cannon blast into the arms of Dawson Knox for an 11-yard score. The coverage by safety Adrian Phillips was good, but the throw and catch were just better.
It’s now 14-0 Bills. If the Patriots can’t score here, this could get ugly.
8:41 p.m.: The Patriots’ defense can’t seem to stop anything the Bills are doing right now. Isaiah McKenzie makes another big catch for 19 yards, and Buffalo is knocking on the door at New England’s 22-yard line.
Bills’ offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is pressing all the right buttons, Josh Allen is rifling the ball through the cold like it’s nothing and Buffalo’s receivers are getting it done.
8:35 p.m.: That is not what New England needed. Jones’s deep ball intended for Nelson Agholor is picked off in the end zone by Micah Hyde. It looked like Agholor had a step on his man, but Hyde came over and swiped it. The throw wasn’t bad; the play was just better.
That kills a promising drive and gives Buffalo a chance to put New England in a big hole to start the game.
8:34 p.m.: The rookie is pulling out all the stops tonight. Facing 3rd-and-10 with bodies all around him in the pocket, Jones puts on a couple moves and picks up 16 yards and a first down with his legs. That’s precisely what the Patriots need him to do in this game to keep the ball moving.
8:31 p.m.: Jones with another big play on third down escaping pressure and finding Hunter Henry down the field for a 31-yard gain. The quarterback looked like he was going to down with pressure coming off of either side, but he broke the pocket, pressed the line of scrimmage and drew defenders toward him enough to free Henry up for a big play.
8:28 p.m.: Sweet throw on second down by Mac Jones to connect with Kendrick Bourne for the first down. The rookie threw a comeback to the far sideline right on time to Bourne, who hauled it in past a slipping defender before falling out of bounds himself.
That’s a good sign for the Patriots’ offense.
8:27 p.m.: Gunner Olszewski probably should’ve taken the knee on that one.
The Patriots’ kick return took the ball out of the end zone and got stoned at the 13-yard line after just a 14-yard return. Mac Jones and the offense take over.
8:22 p.m.: Josh Allen is just magical.
The Patriots had him cornered against the sideline with nowhere to go thanks to great coverage down the field, and he just flips an incredible throw up to Dawson Knox on the back line of the end zone for a touchdown. Insane.
The extra point is good, making the score 7-0 Buffalo after the first drive of the game.
That’s what elite quarterback play looks like: even when you do just about everything right, you can still somehow lose because the other guy is too good.
8:21 p.m.: The Bills get physical on third-and-3 from just outside the 10-yard line and pick up the first down on another run from Allen. Buffalo called a quarterback power and just stuffed it down the Patriots’ throats. If this is any indication, Allen’s legs are going to be just as important as his arm today.
8:18 p.m.: Josh Allen rips off a huge 26-yard scramble to set the Bills up in field goal territory at the Patriots’ 31-yard line. Allen made a nice move on Matthew Judon in the open field and then turned on the jets for the big gain.
Keeping Allen in the pocket is a necessity for New England. The defense didn’t do it there.
8:16 p.m.: Buffalo starts at the 30-yard line and immediately pick up a first down within two plays–a nine-yard completion to Stefon Diggs on first down and a short run by Devin Singletary.
8:14 p.m.: The Patriots won the toss and chose to defer, meaning they’ll get the ball to start the second half. It’ll be Josh Allen and the Bills’ offense up first. Let’s go.
8:11 p.m.: So much for going sleeveless…even Josh Allen wasn’t trying to mess around with a -5 wind chill, apparently.
8:04 p.m.: Good news for the Patriots is that safety Kyle Dugger is, in fact, in pads and looking like he will play tonight.
The bad news: he’s got a bulky club on the injured right hand that kept him out of last week’s game. Wrapping up and tackling, as well as playing the football in the air, could get complicated.
Hopefully, it won’t limit him much. The Patriots missed Dugger a lot against the Dolphins.
7:59 p.m.: The Globe’s Ben Volin reports this game could end up the third-coldest in Patriots’ history by the time it kicks off. Though the temperature is technically about seven degrees, it feels like it’s five below zero.
Hope you’re enjoying the couch right now.
Fortunately, the cold doesn’t seem to be dampening Kendrick Bourne’s spirits any.
7:51 p.m.: It looks like Justin Herron will indeed get the first look at left tackle in place of the injured Isaiah Wynn, via ESPN’s Mike Reiss and other reporters on the scene.
7:44 p.m.: According to multiple sources, Joejuan Williams looks like the first man up to replace Jalen Mills against the Bills.
Williams has played sparingly this season, making just one start, and has been low on the Patriots’ defensive back totem pole even when injuries have hit. But Mills’ and Shaun Wade’s COVID-related absences have left New England’s cornerback room in desperate shape.
If Williams struggles, Justin Bethel, who has been solid in limited action, could see more playing time.
7:30 p.m.: The cold isn’t going to stop Josh Allen from letting the guns out tonight. But Mac Jones? He’s going to be rocking a scuba suit under his uniform, according to CLNS Media’s Evan Lazar. He did the same thing in the first game against the Bills in Orchard Park.
The latest weather forecast lists the temperature at seven degrees with wind chill advisories that will make the conditions feel like they’re in subzero territory.
Lazar also reports the weather isn’t bothering Jones’s ability to throw the football, which could be a sign the Patriots won’t run the ball on every play like they did last time.
6:50 p.m.: The Patriots will officially be without starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn tonight as he headlines the team’s inactive list.
Wynn was projected as a limited participant on Wednesday if the Patriots had practiced after suffering an ankle injury against Miami in Week 18. Then, he missed practice on Thursday and Friday.
Justin Herron took his place with uneven results last week and may have to play in Wynn’s stead again.
Kristian Wilkerson, who was elevated from the practice squad, is also inactive, meaning N’Keal Harry will likely see a big role as a blocker against the Bills.
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