FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — At 6-5, the New England Patriots entered Thursday Night Football, two games behind the 8-3 Buffalo Bills. And while the Bills drew with the Miami Dolphins at the top of AFC East, they were 0-2 in the league.
The Bills handled the Patriots with ease on Thursday, taking a 24-10 classification win, pushing the Patriots even further away from playoff contention.
Quarterback Josh Allen stood near midfield for the first time since he injured his right elbow against the Jets in Week 9 and made passes in the pre-game warm-ups. A step towards normalcy after a full week of practice.
What followed the Bills’ 24-10 win over the Patriots was similar. Buffalo looked more cohesive and closer to the team that had performed well ahead of Week 7 good-bye, albeit against a tough New England offense, and became the first team to beat the Belichick-era Patriots in double digits in three games.
The bills more than doubled the Patriots’ possession time (38:08 – 21:52) and maintained a double-digit lead in the second quarter for the remainder of the game. Allen looked more controlled, finishing 22 of 33 passes for 223 yards and two goals with a fumble, becoming the first player in NFL history to hit 25 passes and five quick touchdowns in three seasons.
The Bills’ offense and the key moment for Allen to secure the team’s first AFC East win of the season was the 15-game, 94-yard drive that lasted almost nine minutes in the second half. Buffalo proved that at a crucial moment Allen & Co. could lead a drive and push a team away.
Promising trend: The Bills kicked off the running game early under the leadership of rookie James Cook. The ground attack helped set up two more than seven-minute rides—including a season-long 15-game drive—after coming into the night with three such rides all season.
There were three back-to-back goal-scoring runs to start the game on offense, and that went a long way as the offense fell to a recession towards the end of the second quarter and into the third quarter. Cook also showed how dynamic he can be with significant opportunities throughout the entire game, even if the offensive line isn’t at its best.
Describe the game in two words: Necessary win. The bills are in the middle of one of the team’s biggest episodes of the season with three games in a row against AFC East opponents, and starting with a convincing away win against the Patriots was crucial to the team’s home advantage hopes.
What matters is under radar status: Korner Tre’Davious White played more than 80% of the defensive snaps. For White — coming back from a torn ACL he suffered last Thanksgiving — and this defense is an important step in the right direction. White played 15 snaps against the Lions last week, and the Bills felt comfortable enough to play in almost any series. This is important news going forward for the defense, after von Miller was placed on an injured reserve early Thursday.
Dazzling NFL Next-Gen Statistics Statistics: Allen was 0.3 yards from the sideline on a second-quarter pass to wide receiver Gabe Davis. It’s been a draw for closest to the sideline in any completions since the NFL started tracking players in Next Gen Stats 2016. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts also scored a 0.3-yard field goal from the sideline last season against the Dallas Cowboys.
Next game: Against the Jets (13:00 ET, Sunday)
new england patriots
The New England Patriots offense, which is currently in the bottom third of the NFL in several key categories, fell further with a loss to the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night.
No juice. Not a chance to win.
The Bills completely controlled the game with the possession time advantage. 38:08 – 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 that when it comes to offense, he’s done with it. The departing offensive coordinator made the unconventional decision to replace Josh McDaniels with Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, two coaches on the defensive and special teams, respectively.
Belichick also oversaw the streamlining of the offense, saying that the goal of the players was to allow them to play faster.
It didn’t work.
Entering Thursday night, the Patriots finished 31st in the red zone, 30th in blocking percentage, 26th in the sacks taken per pass, 27th in the first drops and 25th in their third-down conversions.
Thursday night got worse.
Describe the game in two words: Offensive offensive. This was difficult to watch.
QB dump: Jones continues to struggle, as there seems to be nothing self-defining in offense. He finished 22/36 for 195 yards with one goal and no interception. When competitors put pressure on Jones, the results were particularly bad. He entered Thursday without scoring and five interceptions with a 1.5 Total QBR while under pressure this season. Jets’ Zach Wilson (1.3) was the only qualified quarterback with a lower QBR in these situations. On Thursday, Jones was 5 in 13 for 25 yards on passes under pressure.
Disturbing trend: Bills quarterback Josh Allen deserves credit for playing a remarkable play on an 8-yard touchdown to second-quarter receiver Gabe Davis, but why did the Patriots defenders stop playing as Allen approached the sideline? This was one of several costly mistakes that continued to pop up for the Patriots, which also included a game delay penalty on a knockout and an unsuccessful handoff on the third and 1st on the team’s first offensive drive.
Silver plated: Third-year defensive side Josh Uche was one of the best players on the field. He had two sacks one of which forced mayhem in the first half. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he was rewarded with five quarterbacks in the first half alone. It was a career record.
The dazzling NFL Next Generation Stats stats: Rookie defender Marcus Jones, playing wide receiver, hit a top speed of 20.88 mph on a 48-yard catch-and-run goal in the first quarter.
Next game: At the Cardinals (20:15 PM ET, Monday)