Image Credit: © Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Although it took until close to halftime for Buffalo to pull away, they once again dominated their opponent for the fifth-straight game. Andre Roberts did what he does best, returning their opening possession 49 yards, giving Josh Allen great field position. However, they got bottled up as they got within the 11-yard line, settling for three points to tie the game.
On the next possession, Leslie Frazier’s defense was stout. On a key third down, the Bills sent extra rushers, and Quinton Jefferson brought down Cam Newton for just his third sack of the year.
On the Bills’ next drive, they dug themselves into tough situations, getting to 4th down twice. Although on both occasions, they overcame the scenarios. The most memorable play of the drive came on 4th and 5.
Buffalo was set to punt the ball away until their special teams surprised everyone. Inexplicably, New England failed to line anyone up across from Siran Neal. Long snapper Reid Ferguson snapped the ball directly to Jaquan Johnson, who threw a quick strike to Neal for the first down. He executed it perfectly.
These are the plays that New England used to pull on opponents. To get one over on Bill Belichick is awesome. He simply got outcoached on that one. Zack Moss punched the ball in from the 5-yard line for his fourth rushing touchdown of the season to make it 10-3.
Cam Newton, J.J. Taylor, and Sony Michel combined to drive down the field to score a touchdown, but they shanked their extra point. 10-9 Buffalo.
With Buffalo’s next drive, they stayed aggressive as they were all night. Going for it for the third time on 4th down, they stayed perfect, converting with a 12-yard connection to Dawson Knox. That would help set up a 4-yard floater to Lee Smith to make the score 17-9.
New England promptly went three-and-out to give the Bills the ball at the Buffalo 33. From there, it was the unstoppable Josh Allen-Stefon Diggs connection that we’ve seen all year. Allen shot a bullet to Diggs as he was streaking across the middle. From there, he rocketed away 50 yards for his first score of the day. 24-9
Dean Marlowe had a vicious hit on Cam Newton, blindsiding the quarterback for a sack as Jordan Poyer was getting checked out in the locker room because of a nasty collision with Cam. Luckily, Poyer returned after missing just a few plays.
The only possession Buffalo didn’t score on in the first half came on their last one when they kneeled to head into the break.
Second Half Rout
After the half, Buffalo continued to run whatever they wanted offensively, with New England unable to slow them down.
Bill Belichick, at one point, attempted to challenge a short sideline catch to Dawson Knox. The challenge was unsuccessful. Belichick was frustrated. Buffalo, with its victory, became the first AFC East team to sweep the Patriots since 2000. How does Belichick feel about Buffalo becoming the new king of the AFC East? His response to losing the challenge summed it all up.
With their offense looking inept against a swarming Buffalo defense, New England attempted to create a spark by benching Cam Newton for the inexperienced Jarrett Stidham. The Bills trampled all over any potential hopes for momentum.
I hope you had Diggs on your fantasy team because he had a MONSTER night. Using his athleticism to buy his receivers time, Allen scrambled outside the pocket to find a diving Diggs in the back of the end zone for his third touchdown catch of the game.
Stefon Diggs has been magnificent all season. In this game, he surpassed Bills great Eric Moulds’ 1,368 receiving yards for one season. Diggs is on pace to lead the NFL in catches, which no Buffalo Bill has ever done before.
Corey Bojorquez, the Bills punter if you’ve forgotten, didn’t have to punt until there were eight minutes left in the third quarter. Buffalo has used their punter less than any other team this season, a credit to their astute offensive efficiency.
The Buffalo defense struggled to tackle in space early on, but it didn’t matter in this one. The Bills scored 24 or more points for a franchise-record eighth consecutive game by suffocating the opponent’s offensive attack and spreading the ball around.
With just under 12 minutes left in the 4th quarter in a 38-9 blowout, Josh Allen was pulled from the game. With four touchdowns already and the playoffs already locked up, it was time to protect him for the future.
One potential concern going forward is the injury to Cole Beasley. The stud wideout left the game in the fourth quarter. No official word on the injury yet, and we don’t like to speculate. Until we know more, we will all hope for a quick recovery for Beasley.
Buffalo Bills Game Balls: Week 16
- Stefon Diggs
Diggs has found an extra gear in December, with his third consecutive 130+ yard game. Displaying his incredible stop-and-go ability and phenomenal route-running, Diggs caught three touchdowns. The Patriots, like every other team in the NFL, had no answer for trying to slow down the Pro Bowl receiver. He leads the league in both catches and receiving yards.
- Josh Allen
Allen broke Bills legend Jim Kelly’s franchise record for most passing touchdowns in a season with his 34th score of the season. Allen continued to do what he has done all year, using his cannon arm and an awesome arsenal of weapons to fuel his eighth 300-yard game of the season. Allen has the Bills at 12-3, the most wins they’ve had since 1993.
- Brian Daboll
Buffalo stayed aggressive all night. Brian Daboll knew he had a great game plan coming into the game and the Buffalo offense executed it with ease. Going for it on 4th down three times and converting each time, Daboll made several great calls throughout the night. Buffalo gained 474 yards to just 201 for the Patriots.
What’s Next for the Buffalo Bills?
With just one game left to play, the Bills will either finish with the #2 or the #3 seed. Neither spot can get them a first-round bye, but the better seed could help as the playoffs roar on. Either way, it shouldn’t make a huge difference until the top-seed Chiefs get knocked out.
Next week, they face a Miami Dolphins team fighting for a chance to clinch a playoff berth. Buffalo won their first matchup 31-28 in Week 2. Miami has been playing quarterback switcheroo. A less-confident Tua Tagovailoa could lead to more struggles if Buffalo gets after him early. It should be another fun game in Buffalo.
BillsFans.com - Andrew Buller-Russ