New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 26: Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills looks to throw the ball as Christian Barmore #90 of the New England Patriots applies pressure during the first quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 26, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)

The Buffalo Bills are back atop the AFC East after winning their second straight game and tying the Patriots at 9-6. The Bills own the tiebreaker with their superior record against the division, and now control their own destiny in the AFC East. The Patriots, meanwhile, have some work to do after their second straight loss and second straight sloppy overall effort.

Scroll down for a recap of the top highlights from the game, a 33-21 victory for Buffalo.

  • Q4, 2:30: Bills ice it with another touchdown

    Buffalo really answered the bell in the fourth quarter today. The Patriots offense finally got something going, but Josh Allen was there to answer back every time. He did it again just now, hitting Dawson Knox with a little flip-pass for his third touchdown. It’s now 33-21 Bills.

    The real killer on this drive was a dropped interception by J.C. Jackson around the Bills’ 30-yard line. Had he picked that pass off, he’s likely headed for the end zone to give the Patriots the lead. Instead, the Bills had life, and Allen later hit Isaiah McKenzie for gains of 17 and 15 yards on consecutive plays.

    Allen also converted a fourth-and-1 later in the drive, faking the sneak and instead running with it to the edge, where no Patriot could close on him before the line to gain. Then, facing third-and-10, he flipped it to Stefon Diggs and the receiver did the rest to set up first-and-goal.

    This one’s pretty much over. Patriots are down 12 with only 2:30 to go and only one timeout remaining. Fans are heading for the exits.

  • Q4, 7:35: Patriots back within one score (again)

    The Patriots answered the Bills’ answer. It’s now 26-21 Bills after Damien Harris’ third touchdown. That was perhaps the Pats’ best drive of the day: 10 plays, 75 yards.

    One weird play here: Mac Jones scrambles for a first down, clearly takes one (if not 2-3) late hit(s), but the refs decided to flag the Pats’ David Andrews for taunting, causing the penalties to offset. The officials areย really getting their feelings hurt today.

    Problem, though … per the rules of American football, the Bills get the ball back now. They have a chance to at the very least chew up a lot of clock, if not score some insurance points. The Pats have to hope they get the ball back down just five points, and with enough time to get down the field for a touchdown.

  • Q4, 11:42: Bills score a potential dagger touchdown

    Buffalo just extinguished any potential momentum the Patriots could have had. Devin Singletary finished off a nine-play drive to give the Bills another touchdown. The big play here, though, was a 28-yard strike from Josh Allen to Isaiah McKenzie.

    Interestingly enough, the Bills decided to go for two on the TD to try and make it a 14-point game. Allen’s pass attempt was incomplete, so it’s 26-14 Bills. Patriots remain playing catch-up.

  • Q3, 1:41: Patriots back within one score

    The Patriots made the most of a gotta-have-it drive, finding the end zone in 14 plays while winding 7:21 off the clock. Damien Harris sparked the drive with a 31-yard run on the first play, then finished it off with a one-yard run, his second touchdown of the game.

    The Patriots had to go for it on fourth down twice on this drive. The first one they picked it up with a Mac Jones sneak. The second was a play-action fake to Jonnu Smith (!) that Jones kept before firing to an open Jakobi Meyers over the middle.

    Buffalo has a great chance to demoralize the Pats on their ensuing drive. If the Patriots defense can get a stop, the momentum could start to tilt in their favor.

  • Q2, 1:45: Allen-to-Diggs puts Bills up 10

    Now it’s tough sledding for Mac Jones. The Patriots are down two possessions for the second straight game, after Josh Allen hits Stefon Diggs in the end zone for a touchdown. J.C. Jackson had nearly intercepted the pass attempt on the previous play. It’s becoming a theme today: the Patriots can’t capitalize on potential plays, and the Bills are making them pay for it.

    This latest drive: seven plays, 42 yards in 1:45. Allen has been content to take what the defense gives him for the most part, and it’s leading to pretty good results. The Patriots aren’t playing their best football so far.

  • Q2, 7:57: Micah Hyde intercepts Mac Jones

    The Bills have the ball back after an interception by Mac Jones. The pass attempt got tipped high in the air, making it a relatively easy pick for safety Micah Hyde.

    One of the lowlights of the drive was a horrendous drop by N’Keal Harry, who had plenty of time on what looked like a “pillow” of a throw from Jones. It went right off his hands. Next play, interception. Harry was targeted on the INT, too.

  • Q2, 9:01: Bills regain lead, Patriots bend but don't break

    Buffalo is back on top, but only by three. They had to settle for a field goal after a red zone stand by the Patriots defense. Nonetheless, it’s now 10-7 Bills.

    Safety Adrian Phillips made the big play on third down, tipping a Josh Allen pass attempt and nullifying a potential pass interference penalty. J.C. Jackson made a nice open-field tackle on Stefon Diggs on the previous play. That’s the bend-but-don’t-break that Bill Belichick’s looking for today.

    The longest play of the drive was actually a scramble by Allen, who escaped contain off the left edge and barreled his way ahead for a 25-yard gain. That’s the play that got the Bills into the red zone.

    Injury Update: The game was briefly delayed because the cart had to come out for Bills guard Ike Boetgger. The Bills have already ruled him out with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Very tough break for Boetgger and the Bills’ O-line.

  • Q2, 14:28: Patriots tie it up

    The Patriots are on the board. They answered the Bills’ touchdown drive with a long one of their own, capped with a Damien Harris TD run.

    On the first play of the second quarter, the Patriots ran a delayed pitch to Damien Harris on fourth-and-1 to pick up a first down. Harris got the ball on another pitch on the next play to find the end zone, toppling over the goal line as the Bills tried and failed to rip the ball loose. It’s a 16-yard run by Harris to get the equalizer for the Pats. Other than the penalty, very nice drive for New England, and we’re back to the drawing board at 7-7.

  • Q1, 6:37: Bills score TD on fourth down

    The Bills have drawn first blood, and they did it by going for it on fourth down. The Patriots came very close to bending but not breaking, but Josh Allen had too much time to throw on fourth down and ultimately found receiver Isaiah McKenzie in the back of the end zone after what had basically become a scramble drill. The extra point is good, and so it’s 7-0 Bills.

    Buffalo’s touchdown drive went 61 yards in 13 plays and took 6:57 off the clock. It’s clear that the Patriots want to force Allen and the offense to sustain long drives while eliminating big plays. For one drive, Allen answered the bell, going 6-for-9 for 49 yards and the TD.