Share this article

print logo
Quarter-by-quarter analysis

Bills fall 15 yards short in the end vs. Patriots

First quarter

Theme: New England mounts a pretty drive.

First TD: Tom Brady threw an 8-yard TD pass to tight end Matt LaCosse with 1:50 left. It capped a 75-yard drive. LaCosse was Brady’s 76th different TD pass target, an NFL record.

Takeaway: The Buffalo Bills got a field goal after Micah Hyde returned a fumble 31 yards to the Pats’ 31. Jordan Poyer forced it, popping the ball out of the arms of Rex Burkhead from behind on a screen pass into Buffalo territory. It was the Bills’ 11th takeaway in the last six games.

Wrinkle: The Pats used linebacker Elandon Roberts as a fullback starting with the second drive of the game. It wasn’t a surprise. They had shown that wrinkle in the past several weeks.

Brady’s favorite: Julian Edelman’s catch on the first gave him 564 receptions from Brady, the most of any player in Brady’s career. Wes Welker caught 563 passes from Brady.

Zebra report: Referee John Hussey’s crew entered last week’s action averaging 15.8 penalties called per game, which was the fifth fewest in the league. Hussey called the Bills playoff game in Jacksonville two years ago.

• • •

Second quarter

Theme: The Bills stun Gillette Stadium just before halftime.

Good hands award I: Rookie tight end Dawson Knox made a pretty over-the-shoulder catch vs. tight coverage from safety Patrick Chung for a 33-yard gain to the New England 1.

Good hands award II: Tackle Dion Dawkins caught the second touchdown pass of his career two plays later. It was a good pass from Josh Allen, but Dawkins still had to pluck it out of the air, no sure thing for a lineman.

Marathon men: The Patriots marched 17 plays and 81 yards from their own 1-yard line to a field goal. It was the third-longest drive, in terms of plays, in Pats history and two short of the record.

Matchup watch: The Pats were without their nickel cornerback Jonathan Jones. However, the Pats have numerous other veterans with experience in the slot. J.C. Jackson spent most of the time lined up across from slotman Cole Beasley.

Zebra report: Brady got a benefit of the doubt early in the quarter when he threw away a pass to the right sideline for Rex Burkhead, who had turned upfield and was more than 10 yards away.

• • •

Third quarter

Theme: Josh Allen goes deep.

Big play: The Bills stunned the Patriots with a 53-yard TD pass from Josh Allen to John Brown on a deep post route. It was the first catch of the game for Brown, who was shadowed all game by Stephon Gilmore. Brown had five catches for 69 yards in the first meeting with the Pats. Brown got past Gilmore with a fake out that he took to the post.

Key injury: The Patriots were without top receiver Julian Edelman for the third quarter. He was being evaluated for a hit to the head, which came on a collision with Jordan Poyer early in the quarter on a crossing route that wiped out a 15-yard pass play.

Bills killer: Nick Folk made his longest field goal of the season when he booted a 51-yarder to give the Pats a 13-10 lead. Folk is 25 for 42 on 50-plus kicks for his career. As a rookie in 2007, Folk made a 53-yarder at the buzzer to beat the Bills for Dallas in a memorable – but painful – 25-24 decision on a Monday night in Orchard Park.

• • •

Fourth quarter

Theme: The Bills fall 15 yards short.

Key play: Julian Edelman returned from an evaluation on a hit to the head to catch a 30-yard pass to the Buffalo 29, the big play on New England’s decisive TD drive.

Division streak: The Pats extended their own NFL record with an 11th consecutive division title. They have won the AFC East 19 times in Robert Kraft’s 26-year tenure as owner.

Dominance: It marks the 13th 12-win season for Bill Belichick. Don Shula is second with eight. The Pats are 46-7 at home in division since the NFL realignment in 2002. New England has 396 points and will hit 400 next week for the 13th straight year. Buffalo hasn’t hit 400 since 1998.

Series: Belichick is 35-7 vs. Buffalo, and the Pats are 16-2 vs. the Bills at Gillette Stadium. Sean McDermott is 0-6 vs. Bill Belichick.

Zebra report: The officials missed a face mask call on Josh Allen’s fourth-and-1 conversion run on the Bills’ final drive.

Second guess: The Bills tried to run Allen on a quarterback sweep on first-and-goal from the 8. It didn’t work. Adam Butler sliced through to force a 1-yard loss.

With division dreams dead, Bills should use Week 17 for rest

Story topics: / /

There are no comments - be the first to comment