Mandatory Credit: Photo by Michael Dwyer/AP/Shutterstock (13645740cd) Buffalo Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson, top, takes down New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) during the first half of an NFL football game, in Foxborough, Mass Bills Patriots Football, Foxborough, United States – 01 Dec 2022
Bills 24, Patriots 10
The Buffalo Bills entered Thursday Night Football a bit frustrated with their performances in divisional play so far, losing twice so far this season – both times on the road – to the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets. Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts can be an intimidating setting for opponents, especially at night – but the Bills had consistently seen success over the Patriots in recent matchups, including last season’s 47-17 playoff win for Buffalo.
Buffalo’s defense stood up on the Patriots’ opening drive Thursday night, setting up the Bills’ offense for what quickly became a 3-0 lead on their ensuing possession. New England quickly flipped the script on their next drive, scoring a touchdown with a rather unlikely pass catcher. Marcus Jones, who had played only special teams this season for the Pats, caught Mac Jones’ quick screen pass and ran it 48 yards through the defense for a touchdown and a 7-3 lead.
Buffalo’s next drive was keyed by the run game, with powerful rushes by Josh Allen and James Cook setting up Stefon Diggs’ short touchdown reception to put Buffalo back ahead on the first play of the second quarter. New England was forced to punt the football away after a near safety on their next series and quickly faced another Bills’ threat deep in its territory. Josh Allen would punish the Patriots with an acrobatic touchdown throw while falling out of bounds, finding Gabe Davis in the end zone for a third down touchdown to extend the Bills’ lead to 17-7 in the second quarter. Buffalo finally punted late in the second quarter, their first time having to punt against the Patriots in 20 offensive drives spanning three games. Still, Buffalo would end up with another possession nearing halftime – and after what appeared to be Stefon Diggs’ second touchdown catch of the half was called back due to a holding penalty, Josh Allen’s fumble would give the football back to New England with 90 seconds before halftime. The Patriots would manage a makeable 48-yard field goal attempt with 10 seconds to play, but Nick Folk missed short to keep the Bills ahead 17-7 at the intermission.
Each defense would force a punt to start the second half, but the Bills’ second drive of the fourth quarter started to really squeeze the life out of New England. Buffalo controlled the football for the last eight and a half minutes of the third quarter, and would eventually punch in a short touchdown run by Devin Singletary to cap off a 15-play, 94-yard, and nine minute long journey by extending the lead to 24-7 early in the fourth.
Boos began to rain down on the Patriots’ offense when it punted for a sixth time on the drive that followed, continuing to look completely unable to complete passes downfield. New England would finally work their way into Buffalo territory in the final minutes, settling for a field goal that felt more like a whimper than a breakthrough with 1:53 to go.
The win was an exercise in brute strength by Buffalo, who controlled the Patriots at the line of scrimmage all night. Mac Jones spent seemingly the entire game running desperately from Bills’ defenders, while the Buffalo offense held the football the majority of the night. The comfortable win moves the Bills to 9-3 on the year, applying pressure to the Miami Dolphins to win their matchup with San Francisco on Sunday. New England falls to 6-6, now the only team in the AFC East at .500 or below.
Next Week: Buffalo: vs. N.Y. Jets, New England: at Arizona