The New England Patriots limped into Buffalo on Sunday for a clash with the Bills. The Cam Newton-led squad exited with a heartbreaking loss, though the final score was closer than many expected.
New England opened with the ball and punted on both of their drives in the first quarter. Buffalo was able to add seven points on their first drive of the game as rookie Zack Moss found the end zone for the first time in his career. The Patriots picked up an interception and two field goals in the second quarter, pulling within one point at halftime. J.C. Jackson was responsible for picking off Josh Allen.
The Patriots and Bills exchanged touchdowns in the third quarter with a pair of punts mixed in. For the Bills, it was Moss finding the end zone for the second time. Damien Harris took the ball 22 yards to the house for New England. Newton found Meyers for the two-point conversion. With the game tied at 14, the Bills drove to the red zone once again. Early in the fourth quarter, Josh Allen punched the ball in to take a seven-point lead, but the Patriots answered as Newton recorded a two-yard touchdown scramble of his own. Buffalo’s ensuing drive at up over five minutes of clock and resulted in a Tyler Bass field goal.
New England would not go down without a fight, though. With 4:10 to play, the Patriots got the ball back and drove 65 yards in three-and-a-half minutes. Harris kept grinding out positive rushes while Newton used a combination of his arms and legs to keep the drive alive. The Patriots dealt with just two third-downs on this drive, converting both into first-downs. On second-and-10 in the red zone, Newton scrambled to the left, gaining five yards. As he dove at the end of the play, Justin Zimmer exhibited heroics by punching the ball loose. Buffalo leaped on the pigskin and claimed possession with 31 seconds left.
Three kneel-downs and two New England timeouts later, Buffalo sealed the 24-21 victory over New England, improving to 6-2 and moving into the third AFC playoff spot. The Patriots, meanwhile, fell to 2-5 in what continues to be a miserable and painful first year without Tom Brady.
In the wind and rain, both teams focused on their running games tremendously. Damien Harris added 102 rushing yards and one touchdown while Newton also scrambled for 54 yards and a score. As for Buffalo, Devin Singletary and Zack Moss both finished with 14 carries each, though the former had more yards (86 to 81) while the latter scored twice. Josh Allen also picked up 23 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
The passing games for both teams were extremely quiet, making it all the more important that Newton and Allen be accurate and efficient when throwing. Newton was 15-for-25 with 174 yards while Allen finished 11-for-18 with 154 yards and an interception. Neither signal-caller threw for a touchdown.
With Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry out, the Patriots relied on Jakobi Meyers in the passing game; he finished with six catches on 10 targets for 58 yards. Damiere Byrd, James White, and Ryan Izzo also had multi-catch games. On the other side of the field, only five Bills caught passes. Stefon Diggs caught more than half of the team’s total completions, hauling in six passes for 92 yards. Cole Beasley was the only other Buffalo player with multiple catches.
Defensively, New England saw their unit get somewhat shaken up. Chase Winovich, one of the stars of the defense, played just five snaps and did not make a tackle. Anfernee Jennings, who played 53 snaps in Week 7, did not appear on the field for a defensive snap on Sunday. Instead, the leaders of the defense were Jonathan Jones and Devin McCourty, who each had six tackles. J.C. Jackson’s interception was the lone turnover forced by New England, while Ja’Whaun Bentley tallied the Patriots’ only sack.
Jordan Poyer stole the show for the Bills with 11 tackles. Dean Marlowe had six tackles and one fumble recovery while Jerry Hughes and Quinton Jefferson both tallied one sack each. Justin Zimmer, whose hard work and aggressiveness earned him a permanent roster spot this season, clinched the game with his fumble, adding another impressive play to his 2020 summary.
Justin Zimmer forces the fumble with less than a minute left in the game!
— NFL (@NFL) November 1, 2020
Whole squad in for the TD‼️
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) November 1, 2020
.@DHx34 goes 22 yards for the TD!
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) November 1, 2020
The Patriots are provided some relief in Week 9 as they oppose a miserable (and winless) New York Jets team. On the other hand, the Bills are dealt a tough matchup as they host the red-hot Seattle Seahawks.
Check us out on our socials:
Follow Andersen Pickard on Twitter @AndersenPickard
Main Image Credit: