The Patriots are AFC East champions again, clinching the division with a 24-12 win over the Buffalo Bills in addition to a loss by the Miami Dolphins. Check below for our live recap of the game.
— Q4, 1:08: Bills make it 24-12 Patriots after Zay Jones is left wide-open for a 31-yard touchdown. They try to fake the extra-point and go for two, but it falls short.
— Q4, 5:07: Patriots go four-and-out with Brian Hoyer. His fourth-down attempt for Julian Edelman is incomplete.
— Q4, 6:39: Bills guard John Miller gets flagged for holding on first down to make it first-and-20 for the Bills. Isaiah McKenzie makes an eight-yard catch to set up second-and-12. Keith Ford can’t spin around in time to catch the dump-off from Allen and it clangs off hid hands to make it third-and-12. Jason McCourty covers McKenzie well and breaks up the third-down pass. Matthew Slater partially blocks the punt, which flutters down to the Bills’ 33-yard line. With 6:39 to go int he game and the Patriots up 18 points, backup QB Brian Hoyer is in for the Patriots.
— Q4, 7:44: The Patriots get a golden opportunity to really put the game away, but have to settle for three points. The way the game is going, it may not matter.
James White takes it three yards on first down. Phillip Dorsett joins the fray with the other Patriots runners, taking a jet sweep for 17 yards to set up first-and-goal from the Bills’ 4. James White gets two one-yard gains to make it third down. He’s stopped for a four-yard loss after taking the pitch, forcing the Patriots’ first field goal attempt of the game.
Stephen Gostkowski is good from 24 yards, making it 24-6 Patriots with the game starting to wind down.
— Q4, 10:55: Josh Allen is very nearly sacked for a safety on first down, but it’s ruled an incomplete pass as he barely got rid of the ball in time. Keith Ford picks up four yards up the middle on the next play to set up third-and-7. Allen barely escapes the blitz on third down and gets off a deep throw, but it’s off the mark and the Bills have no choice but to punt again.
Julian Edelman has a little pep in his step after fielding the punt, this time returning it 38 yards to set up the Patriots with first-and-10 at the Bills’ 24-yard line.
— Q4, 12:00: Tom Brady makes his best throw of the day, firing a dart to Julian Edelman as he’s dodging pressure, giving the Patriots another first down. Brady’s next second-down attempt for James White is behind him as he had the running back open. It sets up a third-and-7 situation. Brady has to make a fallaway attempt under pressure toward Gronkowski, and it’s incomplete. Patriots have to punt from the Bills’ 40, and Ryan Allen pops it up to Matthew Slater to pin the Bills at their own 8.
— End 3: Patriots 21, Bills 6. Rex Burkhead gets the Patriots rolling with a 10-yard run. Tom Brady gets rid of the ball with Shaq Lawson closing in on him to set up second-and-10. The officials call pass interference against the Bills after Rob Gronkowski gets mugged over the middle by Micah Hyde, giving the Patriots a fresh set of downs. That’s how the third quarter ends, as the Pats take a 21-6 lead into the fourth.
— Q3, 3:02: Josh Allen hits Robert Foster for a big 25-yard completion on second down to set up the Bills at their own 43. Allen takes it himself on the next play and zigzags his way forward to another 13 yards. It looks like tight end Jason Croom has a chance to make the end zone, but he’s stood up by the Patriots defense and cornerback Jason McCourty rips the ball out from his hands. Malcom Brown makes the recovery to get the ball back to Brady.
— Q3, 5:05: Finally, the Patriots get some valuable contributions from the passing game. It leads to another touchdown for the Pats, this time with Tom Brady hitting Edelman on fourth down for the score.
Sony Michel messes up the kick return, fumbling it at the goal line and into the field of play. So he has to pick it up and run it, leaving the Patriots pinned at their own 12.
Tom Brady hits Julian Edelman for four yards to start the drive. Brady hands it off to Michel and he has a huge opening on the left edge, bursting ahead for 17 yards and a first down. Michel gets another nice running running lane on the next play to pick up another nine.
Rex Burkhead gets the ball on the next play, picking up four yards of his own to give the Pats another first down. Burkhead looks to pick up another small gain, but a holding penalty by Rob Gronkowski sets them back to first-and-19.
Brady and Burkhead make it back up on the next play, as Burkhead reels it in over the middle and rumbles for a 25-yard catch-and-run. Michel gets back-to-back runs to start the next series, setting up a third-and-4. Brady is under pressure up the middle, and his attempt for Julian Edelman is incomplete after the pass flutters short.
The Patriots decide to go for it on third-and-4…and it’s vintage Patriots as Brady hits Edelman on a quick slant. Edelman appears to be tackled, but he was never down as he escapes the would-be tackler and flies into the end zone for the touchdown. It’s 21-6 Patriots as New England feels like it’s starting to pull away.
— Q3, 10:06: With yet another good opportunity to find the end zone and make the game closer than it needs to be, the Bills offense once again has to settle for a field goal.
Josh Allen’s attempt falls incomplete on the first play, but Jonathan Jones is flagged for pass interference after tripping up receiver Deonte Thompson. Allen hits Jason Groom over the middle to pick up another 19 yards and set up a first down at the Patriots’ 23.
Allen goes for the end zone on first-and-10, but it falls incomplete intended for Isaiah McKenzie. He goes to the end zone again on second down, but Logan Thomas can’t make the grab as he’s well-covered by Patrick Chung. Allen is under pressure from Trey Flowers on third down and he’s forced to get rid of it, and the ball is too high and out-of-bounds.
Stephen Hauschka is good from 41 yards to make it 14-6 Patriots.
— Q3, 11:16: Sony Michel gets the drive started with five yards up the middle. Michel appears to pick up the first down on the next play, but Julian Edelman gets flagged for holding to make it second-and-13. Michel gets the ball again and gets back seven yards to set up third-and-6. Tom Brady hits James White for a screen, but he can’t quite get to the line to gain and the Patriots have to punt on fourth-and-2 from their own 20.
— Q3, 13:29: Fortunately for the Patriots, the Bills can’t cash in on a gift-wrapped touchdown opportunity. Josh Allen is off the mark again on third-and-3 as Stephon Gilmore steps up in coverage on Zay Jones. Stephen Hauschka is good this time, and the Bills get three free points to make it 14-3 Patriots.
— Q3, 14:49: Disaster on the Patriots’ first play of the second half. Tom Brady tries to hit Rob Gronkowski on first down, but it’s through the tight end’s hands and picked off by safety Micah Hyde. Bills take over at the Patriots’ 24.
— Halftime Thoughts: The Patriots are winning this game with two things, and Tom Brady is neither of them. Offensively, they’re mostly taking it out of Brady’s hands by running it 20 times against just 13 pass plays. It makes sense. Brady is just 7-for-13 for 40 yards – a 27.7 passer rating. Meanwhile, the Pats already have 179 rushing yards. That includes four jet sweeps to Cordarrelle Patterson, who’s taken the ball for two 12-yard gains, a 15-yard gain, and a 27-yard gain.
Defensively, it’s not so much the Patriots dominating as Josh Allen struggling mightily. The Bills rookie quarterback has been mostly off the mark throwing him the ball. But the Pats’ D deserves credit for forcing the Bills to throw in the first place. They’ve played a simple, smart, disciplined game on that side of the ball and also benefitted from errant throws by Allen, drops by the receivers, and a missed 43-yard field goal attempt for kicker Stephen Hauschka.
Q2, 0:39: A short gain for Sony Michel and a three-yard dump-off to Cordarrelle Patterson sets up third-and-7. Tom Brady is under a little pressure and off the mark on the play, as it falls short of Patterson. Patriots forced to punt from midfield. Matthew Slater catches it to pin the Bills back at their own 9-yard line.
Q2, 2:00: Cordarrelle Patterson jump-starts the drive with his biggest gain yet, another jet sweep that he takes 27 yards after getting a good block up front and getting separation at the second and third levels. The Patriots take it down to the two-minute warning after that.
— Q2, 2:23: The Bills have a good-looking drive, but once again they come away with no points.
LeSean McCoy runs for just one yard on the first play. McCoy catches it with space on second down, but he’s brought down for just seven yards. Allen grinds ahead for four yards on a third-and-2 QB keeper to give the Bills fresh downs. Allen makes a nice accurate throw for a change on the next play, hitting Robert Foster for 16 yards to give them another first down.
Allen looks Foster’s way on first-and-10, but it’s incomplete as Foster falls down during his route and the ball safely hits the turf. Allen gets a quick strike to Deonte Thompson on second down for 11 yards, giving the Bills yet another first down.
McCoy can manage only a short gain yet again with two yards on first-and-10. He makes Trey Flowers miss on the next play, going from potential no gain to three yards. Allen gets another QB keeper on third-and-5, but it goes for no gain. Bills offense stays on the field appearing to go for it on fourth down, then take their second timeout of the half.
But they do indeed go for it after that, and Allen boldly targets Foster in the end zone against Stephon Gilmore. Foster has to adjust to the ball and nearly makes a circus catch, but it falls incomplete and the Patriots take over on downs.
— Q2, 7:44: Tom Brady hits James White for another first down. Sony Michel runs it three yards set up the next play. That next play is an interception, as Brady and Rex Burkhead appear to have a miscommunication. Brady’s throw goes in the opposite direction of Burkhead’s route, and it’s a rather easy pick by Lorenzo Alexander to get the ball right back to the Bills.
— Q2, 9:41: Josh Allen has time to throw, and his receiver looks open – except J.C. Jackson was waiting in the vicinity of the football, and the rookie leaps up to make a very nice interception. Jackson’s fine ball skills show up yet again, and Tom Brady gets the ball right back.
— Q2, 9:59: Lo and behold, James White gets the ball and good things happen. The Patriots running back burst ahead for a 27-yard touchdown run after patiently waiting for an opening up the middle, and no one on the Bills can catch him in the open field as he powers to the pylon.
Phillip Dorsett is in over Chris Hogan at wide receiver to start the Patriots’ series. Patriots running 21 personnel with running backs Rex Burkhead and James White. Burkhead takes a Brady pass for six yards on first down, then Cordarrelle Patterson takes another handoff for 15 yards to give the Patriots another first down.
Burkhead gets the pass again for another six yards. White springs for the touchdown on the next play to make it 14-0 Patriots after the extra point is good.
— Q2, 12:19: Two short runs by Keith Ford set up a third-and-3. Josh Allen’s pass attempt to Isaiah McKenzie is a little out of reach, and the Bills have to punt again. Allen’s ugly day throwing the ball continues.
— Q2, 13:47: The second quarter starts with a big play for the Buffalo defense. Safety Jordan Poyer zoomed in to take Tom Brady down for a nine-yard loss. Sony Michel can manage only five yards on third-and-21, forcing another punt by the Patriots.
— First Quarter Thoughts: Once again, the Patriots offense is having a bit of an up-and-down time to start the proceedings. They looked great on their touchdown drive, which was comprised of six runs and zero passes. But the passing game hasn’t been on point, as Tom Brady is just 3-for-7 for 16 yards so far. Plenty of time to get rolling, but that group is clearly still having trouble firing on all cylinders from drive t drive. … The defense, however, is a different story. They got bailed out by the sun on one play, as the Bills missed out on a potential big gain. But they are making Josh Allen look like the erratic rookie that he is. If he can’t be sharper throwing the ball, it’ll be a long day for him.
Q1, 0:08: Josh Allen’s first pass attempt falls way incomplete, but on second down he finds Robert Foster for a pickup of 11 yards and a first down, the Bills’ first of the game. The Pats force another third down situation, however, and Allen’s pass I sn’t even close to tight end Jason Croome. Stephen Hauschka’s kick is NO GOOD as it hits the crossbar, somehow short from 43 yards. Patriots ultimately get the ball back without surrendering any points after the fumble.
— Q1, 1:47: Another promising-looking drive for the Patriots offense ends in disaster.
Sony Michel picks up where he left off on the last drive with a four-yard gain. They pitch it left to Cordarrelle Patterson on second down, he gets a pancake block from Trent Brown, and he flies for 12 yards and out of bounds. Rex Burkhead gets the ball on the next play and rumbles for eight yards. Burkhead sneaks ahead for another three yards to set up another first down.
Finally, a pass play after 10 straight runs. But it falls incomplete out of bounds as Tom Brady can’t hit Rob Gronkowski on the play-action attempt. He does hit Julian Edelman for a six-yard gain to set up third-and-4. They go back to the run this time with a draw to James White, who follows Shaq Mason ahead to grab five yards and pick up another first down.
Brady’s attempt for White is incomplete as it’s just a little off the mark and White can’t snag it. Marcus Cannon gets called for a false start after he flinches before the snap, making it second-and-15. Burkhead catches the pass from Brady and appears to make a guy miss, but coughs up the ball on the tackle to give the ball to the Bills.
Q1, 5:39: New addition to the Patriots active roster Ufomba Kamalu shows some impressive closing speed as he wraps up LeSean McCoy for a four-yard loss on the first play. Robert Foster picks up separation on Stephon Gilmore on the next play, but it falls incomplete as Foster can’t quite track the ball. Allen has time to throw but escapes the pocket for a scramble on third-down, but Patrick Chung closes and makes the tackle.
Bills forced to punt on fourth-and-14, and they send it to the 21-yard line for the offense’s next drive. Unfortunately, Julian Edelman made a block after signaling for a fair catch and takes a 9-yard penalty to se the Pats up at the 12.
— Q1, 7:32: The Patriots are on the board, and they did it with no pass attempts whatsoever. Four carries for 39 yards and a touchdown for Sony Michel, and a handoff to Cordarrelle Patterson comprised that drive for the Patriots, who will certainly move the ball whatever way they can. It’s 7-0 Patriots after the play is upheld on review.
Michel carries it up the middle for a four-yard gain on first down. They hand it off to Cordarrelle Patterson on a jet sweep on second down and he makes one guy miss, bursting for 12 yards and the first first down of the game for either team. Sony Michel takes it around the left edge and breaks two tackles to power ahead for a 19-yard gain to give the Pats another first down. Michel gets a huge lane up the middle for another 12 yards to set up first-and-goal from the 7.
Michel sneaks through a gap for three yards on first down. Michel snakes his way forward with a nice lead block by Shaq Mason to get the touchdown on the next play.
— Q1, 10:54: The Patriots’ next defensive series is another successful one. Kyle Van Noy kicks it off by wrapping up Robert Foster for no gain. Josh Allen is nearly sacked on second down by Trey Flowers, but barely escapes the pressure and scrambles for a five-yard gain. Allen has a chance to hit McKenzie again on third down, but it’s off McKenzie’s hands and the Bills have to punt again. The punt is only 35 yards and the Patriots are set up with excellent field position at their own 45-yard line.
Three total offensive series for both teams, and three three-and-outs so far.
— Q1, 12:29: Unfortunately, the Patriots offense can’t match the defense’s fast start. Tom Brady’s first pass attempt to Julian Edelman is a little behind him, but it’s off his hands and incomplete. Brady goes right back to Edelman on second down and this time they connect for seven yards to make it third-and-3. Brady’s third-down pass is broken up at the line of scrimmage by rookie linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, and the Pats are forced to punt. Ryan Allen boots it 55 yards to set up the Bills at their own 15-yard line.
— Q1, 13:24: Great start for the Patriots defense. Trey Flowers stops Keith Ford for just a one-yard gain to start off the Patriots’ first defensive series. LeSean McCoy gets it on second down, but he only gets three to make it third-and-6. Josh Allen is back to pass, but it’s way off the mark to Zay Jones and the Pats get an early three-and-out to get off to a strong start.
— Patriots win opening coin toss. They defer to the second half. Bills will receive to start the game.
— Patriots & Bills inactives: DE Adrian Clayborn is the most notable name on the Patriots’ inactive list, as DT Danny Shelton is active after sitting out for the past three games. Full inactives for both teams are below: