bills-beat-patriots-to-claim-control-of-afc-east

Bills beat Patriots to claim control of AFC East

Cameron Hogwood

Interviews, Comment & Analysis @ch_skysports

Isaiah McKenzie leads the Bills with 11 catches for 125 yards and a touchdown as the Buffalo Bills reclaim top spot in the AFC East with a win over the New England Patriots, for whom running back Damien Harris scored three rushing touchdowns on a tough day for Mac Jones.

Last Updated: 26/12/21 9:44pm

    Josh Allen and the Bills put their division fate in their own hands with a win over the Patriots

    Josh Allen and the Bills put their division fate in their own hands with a win over the Patriots

    Josh Allen threw for 314 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 64 yards as the Buffalo Bills claimed control of the AFC East with a 33-21 victory over the New England Patriots on Boxing Day.

    Story of the Game

    Isaiah McKenzie starred for Buffalo in the absence of Gabriel Davis and Cole Beasley with a career-best 11 catches for 125 yards and a touchdown alongside seven receptions for 85 yards and a score from Stefon Diggs.

    Damien Harris rushed for 103 yards and three touchdowns to lead the way for New England, who slip to second in the division with both teams 9-6 on the year.

    The Bills can clinch their second straight AFC East title by winning their remaining two games of the regular season.

    Allen iced the win with a two-yard flip pass touchdown to Dawson Knox with 2.30 to play in the game after he had kept Buffalo’s clock-chewing drive alive inside the final four minutes with a fourth-and-inches scramble followed by an improvised shovel pass to Diggs, who span and bundled his way for 19 yards on third-and-10.

    The Patriots had threatened a comeback when Harris’ eight-yard touchdown run, his third on the day, pulled the Patriots within 26-21 mid-way through the fourth quarter.

    Devin Singletary’s two-yard run gave the Bills a 26-14 advantage with 12 minutes to play after they had led by 10 points at half-time thanks to Diggs’ 12-yard reception just before the break.

    Patriots quarterback Mac Jones finished 14 of 32 for 145 yards and two interceptions, both picks coming courtesy of Micah Hyde.

    Stats leaders

    Bills

    • Passing: Josh Allen, 30/47, 314 yards, 3 TDs
    • Rushing: Josh Allen, 12 carries, 64 yards
    • Devin Singletary, 12 carries, 39 yards, 1 TD
    • Receiving: Isaiah McKenzie, 11 catches, 125 yards, 1 TD
    • Stefon Diggs, seven catches, 85 yards, 1 TD

    Patriots

    • Passing: Mac Jones, 14/32, 145 yards, 2 INTs
    • Rushing: Damien Harris, 18 carries, 103 yards, 3 TDs
    • Receiving: Jakobi Meyers, six catches, 59 yards

    Scoring Summary

    Scoring summary

    FIRST QUARTER
    Bills 7-0 PatriotsJosh Allen three-yard TD pass to Isaiah McKenzie (extra point)
    SECOND QUARTER
    Bills 7-7 PatriotsDamien Harris 16-yard rushing TD (extra point)
    Bills 10-7 PatriotsTyler Bass 25-yard field goal
    Bills 17-7 PatriotsJosh Allen 14-yard TD pass to Stefon Diggs (extra point)
    THIRD QUARTER
    Bills 20-7 PatriotsTyler Bass 34-yard field goal
    Bills 20-14 PatriotsDamien Harris one-yard rushing TD (extra point)
    FOURTH QUARTER
    Bills 26-14 PatriotsDevin Singletary two-yard rushing TD (failed two-point conversion)
    Bills 26-21 PatriotsDamien Harris eight-yard rushing TD (extra point)
    Bills 33-21 PatriotsJosh Allen two-yard TD pass to Dawson Knox (extra point)

    Key Plays

    The Bills took the lead on Allen’s three-yard strike to McKenzie on fourth-and-two after Ed Oliver’s sack had derailed New England’s opening drive, before Harris followed the blockers for an expertly-designed 16-yard touchdown option run to cap a seven-minute drive including two fourth-and-one conversions from the eventual scorer.

    Buffalo settled for a 25-yard Tyler Bass field goal when Adrian Phillips tipped Allen’s end zone pass towards Emmanuel Sanders, who then dropped a should-be touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the one after Hyde had collected the double tip from A.J. Klein and Siran Neal for an interception to put the Bills in Patriots territory.

    Facing fourth-and-seven just shy of the two-minute warning, the Bills drew a jump from Christian Barmore to set up a fourth-and-two from which Allen found Diggs for 23 yards before returning to his favourite receiver with a 12-yard touchdown to push the lead to 17-7 at the break.

    The Bills came up empty on the opening drive in the third quarter when Jake Kumerow dropped a pass in the end zone for what would have been a 23-yard touchdown before Knox had a 12-yard score negated by a penalty on Daryl Williams as an ineligible man downfield. Knox was then flagged for holding, Allen escaped a fumble on what was eventually ruled an incomplete pass and Bass came in to kick a 34-yard field goal.

    Harris punched in his second of the day from a yard out to reward a 14-play, 75-yard possession that had included two more fourth-down conversions after Jones avoided being intercepted by Levi Wallace on a dangerous deep shot to N’Keal Harry.

    Singletary’s two-yard rushing score followed by a failed two-point attempt gave the Bills a 12-point lead at 26-14, reduced to five points thanks to Harris’ third of the day on an eight-yard run with seven minutes to play.

    Allen finished it in style when he flipped a two-yard pass to a wide-open Knox while scrambling to his left after Diggs’ tackle-swatting chunk play.

    What’s Next?

    The Bills’ remaining schedule sees them host the Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets in their bid to clinch the AFC East, while the Patriots will host the Jacksonville Jaguars before visiting the Miami Dolphins on the final day of the regular season.

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