Image Credit: © Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
2-for-3 for 19 yards. It’s a stat line you might see in a high school football game. Maybe in the annual Army-Navy game where the pass is not a big part of either offense.
You normally don’t see 2-for-3 for 19 yards in an NFL game, but last night in Buffalo, Patriots quarterback Mac Jones attempted just three passes in “The Buffalo Bills and the Blustery Night.” Jones did a lot of handing the ball off and pitching it to his running backs that would total 222 yards on the night. As a result, New England would win its seventh game in a row.
The Patriots, now 9-4, expanded their lead in the AFC East over Buffalo (7-5) and now own the conference’s No. 1 seed. New England also gets a crucial late-season bye before facing the rest of their schedule. The Patriots return to action on Dec. 18 at Indianapolis.
The conditions in Buffalo last night made throwing the football extremely difficult. Winds of 20 to 40 miles per hour were prevalent most of the night. The winds also made it feel much colder than it was. Wind chills were in the low 20s last night.
© Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
The first six to seven minutes of the game went pretty much as expected. The two teams both went three-and-out on their first series of the game. After the Patriots netted five yards in three plays on their next series, they punted to Buffalo. The Bills got the game’s initial first down, and on the very next play, Buffalo QB Josh Allen fumbled the ball away to New England.
That may have been a sign of things to come. The Patriots would score on the ensuing drive. Damien Harris went 64 yards on a 3rd-and-5 run to the end zone. New England head coach Bill Belichick elected to go for two instead of kicking the extra point into the high wind. It proved to be a good move as Brandon Bolden scored on the conversion, and the Patriots led 8-0.
Buffalo would also score as the result of a New England miscue. The Bills were forced to punt again, but New England’s N’Keal Harry mishandled the ball, and Buffalo recovered at the Patriots’ 14-yard line. On first down, Allen hit WR Gabriel Davis for a 14-yard touchdown to bring the Bills within one point – 8-7 – of the Patriots.
Those two touchdowns would be the only ones scored on Monday night. In the second quarter, Nick Folk would convert a 41-yard field goal to give New England an 11-7 halftime lead.
© Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Buffalo would again pull within a point of the Patriots in the third quarter. The Bills would put together an eight-play drive assisted by an unnecessary roughness penalty that allowed Buffalo to advance to the New England 17-yard line. Tyler Bass hit a 35-yard field goal to leave the Patriots ahead 11-10 with 6:35 left in the third quarter when the drive stalled.
New England answered with another Folk field goal, but Bass would miss a 33-yard attempt on Buffalo’s next drive. With 5:47 left in the game, the Bills would put up one last valiant effort. At the two-minute warning, Allen would drive the offense down the field only to face a 4th-and-14 at the Patriots’ 18-yard line. Miles Bryant would bat down Allen’s final pass of the game and seal the Patriots’ win.
New England became the first team since 1978 to attempt just one pass in a half. Buffalo allowed over 200 yards rushing for the second time in three games. The Bills have now lost four of their last seven games. They struggled to move the ball. New England held Buffalo to a season-low 230 yards. The Bills rushed for just 99 yards. Allen led the team with 39 yards on six carries. Buffalo running backs totaled just 60 yards on 19 carries.
Buffalo must navigate the rest of its schedule to ensure a playoff berth. Next week, it doesn’t get any easier as the Bills travel to Tampa Bay. Bucs QB Tom Brady is 32-3 against Buffalo. That’s an NFL record for most career wins against one opponent.
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