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Ten Plays that Shaped the Game: Bills' 'O' couldn't cash

The failure of the Buffalo Bills' offense to capitalize on scoring chances cost the team its upset bid Sunday in New England.

The Bills were 0 for 4 in the red zone in the 37-16 loss. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor and his receiving corps continually came up short inside the Patriots' 20-yard line.

Those missed opportunities lead this week's 10 plays that shaped the game:

1. QB-TE misfire. The Bills' opening drive was pretty until it got to the red zone. The key play was a second-and-11 pass from the Pats' 19. Taylor overthrew for Charles Clay into the end zone on a flag route. Clay was well covered by Devin McCourty and had flattened off his route, heading to the front pylon. The pass went deep.

Either they needed to be on the same page or, more likely, Taylor should have pulled off Clay and hit Zay Jones on a shallow crossing route. Jones had beaten Eric Rowe over the middle. The Bills settled for a field goal.

2. Tyrod misfire. The Bills' second drive went 69 yards to the New England 6, where it died. On third down, Taylor missed a slightly open LeSean McCoy in the left flat near the goal line. He didn't pull the trigger quick enough and threw off his back foot too short.

3. Fourth-down fail. On the next play, Sean McDermott opted to go for it on fourth and 2. The Bills called the same play, with Clay running to the left flat. This time there was no trigger from Taylor, who scrambled and had to throw it away. The Bills either needed a different play or a quicker trigger.

4. Clay drop. It wasn't Taylor's fault the Bills didn't get a TD at the end of the half. He hit Clay perfectly over the middle from the 5-yard line. Clay had it in his hands but dropped it as he hit the ground. Bad drop.

Sports Talk Sunday Preview: A busy week for the Bills Sat, Mar 17, 2018

Channel 2's Adam Benigni and Buffalo News Bills reporters Vic Carucci and Jay Skurski recap a busy week for the Bills on free agency and on the trade front.Watch Sports Talk Sunday on WGRZ-TV every week at 10 a.m.

5. Toe tap? The next play after Clay's drop was a pretty, 5-yard TD pass to Kelvin Benjamin – until it was reversed on replay review. Good throw by Taylor. Benjamin's left toe clearly grazed the turf. But did he have control of the ball? Or did he gain control after his toe came back up?

"That foot is off the ground," said Al Riveron, NFL vice president of officiating, referring to the moment when Benjamin gained full control of the ball.

Bottom line: Clay's drop cost four points.

6. Bad screen. The Bills had first and goal at the Pats' 10 early in the third quarter. Game tied, 13-13. Rick Dennison called a screen left for fullback Patrick DiMarco. Richie Incognito didn't finish a block on Trey Flowers, who blew it up. But the Pats were all over it. Not a good play. LeSean McCoy was winded from making a long-gainer and was on the sideline. Mike Tolbert was open in the right flat, but he was a decoy for the screen. Maybe Taylor could have thrown it into the ground. It was a loss of 8. The Bills settled for a field goal.

7. Field goal? The Pats led, 23-16, with 13:13 left when McDermott opted for a 50-yard field goal try on fourth and 1 from the 32. Stephen Hauschka missed short and right. The conservative call backfired.

8. Pick six. Jordan Poyer fooled Tom Brady on the interception he returned for a 19-yard touchdown. Poyer started the play in the back of the defense in a two-deep safety look.

At the snap, Micah Hyde shifted to the deep middle and Poyer crept down into the short middle. The pass for Kenny Britt was accurate, just a tad to his back side to avoid linebacker Preston Brown in underneath coverage. But Poyer read it all the way.

9. Great Gronk. There's a reason Rob Gronkowsi is the No. 3 all-time touchdown-producing tight end in NFL history. He beats near-perfect coverage. Hyde was glued to Gronkowski's hip on a second-quarter pass up the left sideline. But Brady's throw was to Gronkowski's back shoulder, and the tight end plucked it out of the air with his right hand for a 17-yard TD.

Few 6-foot-6, 265-pound humans – maybe no one but Gronk - could make that catch, pivot on the sideline tightrope and get both feet in the end zone.

10. Nowhere to hide. Hyde had to leave the field for one play after being shaken up late in the third quarter. Sure enough, Brady went right after his replacement, Trae Elston. Gronkowski ran a double-move route up the middle of the field and Elston committed pass interference, running into Gronk without looking back for the ball. That set up a 1-yard TD run that gave the Pats the lead for good, 23-16.

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