After a cold, bleak Thursday night at Gillette Stadium two things are painfully obvious:
Josh Allen is the MVP.
The New England Patriots are DOA.
Continuing a troubling trend that began about when Allen arrived and Tom Brady departed, the Buffalo Bills again dominated the Pats, 24-10, in this AFC East showdown. With the loss, Bill Belichick's 6-6 team is not only out of the playoff picture, but also out of ideas for being competitive with Allen and the Bills.
The 9-3 Bills scored on their first three possessions and produced drives of 14 and 15 plays, including two over 80 yards. With Allen either buying time with his athleticism or shredding New England's secondary with his strong-armed darts, Buffalo took control and put the game out of reach on Devin Singletary's 1-yard run for a 24-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots once owned the Bills, using them as mere fodder along the way to six Super Bowls. From 2000-19 New England won 35 of 39 meetings, including a 15-game winning streak. But with Allen now a full-fledged star, the Patriots have lost five of six in the series.
In the last three meetings, they are 0-3 and have been outscored, 104-48. The Bills are the first team to beat the Belichick-era Patriots by double-digits in three straight games, including playoffs. They are also the first to ever win at New England in three straight years.
In the last three meetings Buffalo's offense has rolled up 1,268 yards. Going back to last season, the Bills scored on 15 consecutive drives against the Pats and went 19 possessions without having to punt before a stop late in the second quarter.
But even that rare punt by Buffalo and another dazzling dose of Marcus Magic in Foxboro wasn't nearly enough for New England.
Rookie cornerback Marcus Jones, the hero of New England's the win over the New York Jets with an 84-yard game-winning punt return, gave the Pats a 7-3 lead in the first quarter by scoring on his first offensive snap of the season. Lined up in the left slot, Marcus took a quick pass from quarterback Mac Jones and scampered untouched 48 yards.
The Patriots didn't do a lot to celebrate, but they did make NFL history: It was the first touchdown connection between players with the same first initial and last name since Randy and Ron Johnson hooked up for the New York Giants on Dec. 2, 1973.
After the Patriots botched a 3rd-and-1 with a fumbled hand-off on their opening possession, Allen converted a 3rd-and-11 before penalties forced Buffalo to settle for a field goal and a 3-0 lead.
The Bills re-took the lead, 10-7, on an Allen 8-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs. The margin grew to 17-7 on an athletic, ambitious, improbable and MVP-highlight reel play by Allen.
Flushed from the pocket and rolling right on 3rd-and-Goal, he shook off a sack by Mack Wilson but appeared to be headed out of bounds. In the end zone, meanwhile, cornerback Pats' cornerback Jonathan Jones gave up on the play. But as he reached the sideline, Allen jumped in the air and threw across his body and into traffic, where Jonathan Jones' man - Bills' receiver Gabe Davis - snagged the ball for an 8-yard score.
Allen had another gorgeous touchdown pass - this one 41 yards to Diggs - nullified by an obvious holding penalty as Buffalo tried to keep Matthew Judon off its quarterback.
Two plays later edge-rusher Josh Uche produced a strip-sack of Allen, but New England failed to convert the turnover after some rare clock mismanagement by Belichick and Nick Folk's 48-yard field goal bouncing off the crossbar just before halftime.
With Mac Jones coming off a career-best performance in the Thanksgiving loss to the Minnesota Vikings, the offense was putrid. The unit's only points came on Folk's meaningless 39-yard field goal with 1:53 remaining.
New England has gone 10 quarters at home without an offensive touchdown. The only Pats to find the end zone the last 2.5 games are Marcus Jones (punt return vs. Jets, reception vs. Bills) and Jonathan Jones (Pick Six vs. Colts).
The Patriots have the unenviable task of playing the Bills again this season, in the regular-season finale in Buffalo Jan. 8.
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