New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 31: Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills scores a touchdown during the third quarter of a game against the New England Patriots at Highmark Stadium on December 31, 2023 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

The New England Patriots committed four turnovers in the first half, as the Buffalo Bills capitalized just enough to hold on for a 27-21 win over the Pats at Highmark Stadium; scroll below for complete highlights.

Buffalo pulled out the win despite a solid day for the Patriots defense, who surrendered only 281 net yards of offense and made one interception. Bills quarterback Josh Allen was just 15-of-30 passing for 169 yards and no touchdowns with an INT through the air, but punched in two rushing touchdowns. The Bills scored 20 of their 27 points off turnovers, including a pick-six by Rasul Douglas.

Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe had one of his worst days as a pro, at 16-of-26 for 209 yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions. He did manage to score a rushing TD, the first of his career, but it was too little, too late.

The Pats fell to 4-12 on the 2023 season, with the regular season finale coming next Sunday in Foxborough against the New York Jets.

Patriots-Bills Highlights

The Patriots started the game as well as they could’ve imagined. Returner Jalen Reagor took the opening kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown, jumping the Pats out to a quick 7-0 lead.

  • The Patriots defense followed that up with a stop against Allen and the Bills offense. But on Bailey Zappe’s first play from scrimmage, the quarterback’s pass attempt deflected into the hands of Bills defensive tackle Ed Oliver, who controlled the ball enough to the ground to be credited with an interception.

  • The Patriots were able to hold the Bills to a field goal, making it 7-3. The teams then traded defensive stops, before Zappe got another opportunity. Unfortunately for Zappe, he threw another interception, this one more ill-advised than the first. Rasul Douglas made the pick to give the Bills another short field.

  • This time, the Bills really made them pay. Allen eventually powered the ball into the end zone himself on a carry, giving Buffalo a 10-7 lead.

  • Two plays later, disaster struck yet again for the Patriots offense. This time, tight end Pharaoh Brown made the catch, but didn’t hold the ball tightly enough, as the Bills’ Christian Benford knocked it loose and recovered the fumble, giving Allen yet another short field to work with. But the Pats were able to hold them to another field goal, making it 13-7 Bills.

  • Two possessions later, the Patriots had a chance to get back in the lead, but instead, Zappe threw his third interception of the day. In what appeared to be a miscommunication between Zappe and Reagor, the quarterback threw it to an all-alone Rasul Douglas, who took it all the way back for a pick-six. the play put the Bills up 20-7.

  • But, on the ensuing possession, the Patriots made a big play to get back in it. Second-year running back Kevin Harris took a Zappe pass 48 yards to help set up first-and-10 in the red zone. On the next play, Zappe took advantage of a vacated defensive backfield for an easy run into the end zone for his first career rushing touchdown, cutting the deficit to 20-14.

  • Patriots rookie kicker Chad Ryland had a chance to cut the deficit to three late in the second quarter, but he missed wide left to keep it at 20-14. The Patriots stopped the Bills on their final possession of the first half, getting the ball back to Zappe with 1:05 left, but the Pats essentially ran the clock down to go to halftime down six.

    The Bills started strong after getting the ball to begin the second half. Allen completed a pinpoint 51-yard deep ball to tight end Dalton Kincaid, which set up the Bills with first-and-10 from the Pats’ 13-yard line. Five plays later, Allen punched it in for his second rushing touchdown of the day, extending the Bills’ lead to 27-14.

  • Early in the fourth quarter, the Patriots were able to put together a seven-play, 84-yard touchdown drive, capped by a powerful run by Ezekiel Elliott into the end zone to make it 27-21 Bills. But that’s how the score would hold for the rest of the game, as Zappe and the Pats could not mount a complete comeback.

    The Patriots will play out the rest of a lost season when they take on the New York Jets in Week 18 at Gillette Stadium. It’s certainly a winnable game for the Pats, but all it would do is hurt their draft position and preserve personal pride.

    Get complete New England Patriots coverage at

    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Check out all of Matt’s content.

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