Patriots no match for Bills in 38-9 loss
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Monday night inside Gillette Stadium represented the end of one era and the beginning of another. The Buffalo Bills flew into New England as the AFC Champions for the first time in 25 years. They exited Foxboro with their first sweep of the Patriots since 1999.
This one wasn’t pretty.
Leading up to this game, Bill Belichick faced questions as to whether he should start Jarrett Stidham over Cam Newton. The Patriots coach stuck with his starting quarterback on Monday night, but it turned out to be another dreadful night for Newton and the Patriots offense.
In the end, Newton was on the field for six series. The offense went three-and-out three times and the Pats scored nine points. It clearly wasn’t enough to keep up with the high-powered Josh Allen-led Buffalo offense in this embarrassing 38-9 loss. The Pats drop to 6-9 and the Bills improve to 12-3.
Newton didn’t last three full quarters before being benched for Stidham at 8:20 of the third quarter. Newton finished 5/10 for 34 passing yards to go with 24 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. According to ProFootballReference, the 34 passing yards are the fewest by a Patriots starting quarterback since Scott Secules had 16 in a 1993 loss against the Bills.
Stidham didn’t fare much better going 4/11 for 44 yards. The quarterback combination didn't come close to matching Allen, who threw 320 yards with four touchdowns, three to receiver Stefon Diggs (145 yards)
The Patriots got off to a fast start thanks to Sony Michel. The running back, starting in place of the injured Damien Harris, ran for a 29-yard gain to get the offense across midfield. Although Damiere Byrd dropped a pass that looked like a potential touchdown, the Pats still came away with a 3-0 lead when Nick Folk hit the 45-yard field goal at 12:44 of the first quarter.
The Bills came right back at the Patriots to even the score, 3-3. McCourty came up with a big run stuff on Devin Singletary on third-and-2, at 3-yard line, and the Bills settled for a 22-yard field goal from Tyler Bass at 6:43 of the first quarter.
Following a Patriots’ three-and-out, the Bills marched down the field to take a 10-3 lead. This drive saw Buffalo convert on two fourth downs. The first, a fourth-and-5, was a fake punt as safety Jaquan Johnson received the direct snap and hit safety Siran Neal for 13 yards. Four plays later, on fourth-and-1, Allen faked a handoff and ran for 22 yards. The plays helped set up a 5-yard Zack Moss touchdown run at 14:50 of the second quarter.
The Pats leaned on their ground game to close the gap in the next series. Michel jump-started the drive with a 21-yard yard run. J.J. Taylor followed that up with a 28-yard run on the next play. Two snaps later, Newton shook off a sack, evaded multiple Bills defenders and ran into the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown at 10:39 of the second quarter. Nick Folk missed the extra point and the Bills led, 10-9.
On the score, Newton tied Steve Grogan (1976) for the most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in Patriots franchise history with 12.
For the Pats, that’s as close as they would get.
The Bills came right back, extending their lead to 17-9 on the next drive. Once again, Buffalo converted on fourth down with Allen hitting Dawson Knox for a gain of 12. Allen then converted on a third down, rushing for 11. Two plays later, the quarterback hit Lee Smith for a 4-yard touchdown at 5:32 of the second quarter.
Buffalo opened up the floodgates following a Patriots three-and-out. At 3:55 of the second quarter, Allen hit Stefon Diggs for a 50-yard touchdown and the Bills led, 24-9.
It didn’t get any better for the Patriots as the Bills opened up the second half with another touchdown. This time Allen hit Diggs for an 18-yard score at 11:28 of the third quarter and Buffalo led 31-9. Meanwhile the Patriots offense looked the exact opposite of dynamic. Following Buffalo’s fourth touchdown of the game, the offense went three-and-out for the third time of the night in six drives.
That ended Newton’s night with Stidham coming on the field on the next drive at 8:30 of the third quarter.
Stidham went 2-for-5 for 28 yards on his first series. The drive was extended due to a roughing the passer called. The second-year quarterback’s first completion went for 22 yards to Jakobi Meyers. On Third-and-10, he hit James White for a gain of six and the series ended with another Patriots punt.
The Bills then added to the embarrassment going up 38-9 as Allen hit Diggs for the pair’s third score on an 8-yard pass at 13:16 of the fourth quarter.
Stidham’s second drive didn’t go much better. The quarterback hit Meyers for six yards to start, but threw the ball away after being pressured on second down. On third down, he was sacked for another Patriots three-and-out.
Stidham was under pressure for most of his third series, which also ended with a punt. The quarterback was hit or pressured on 3-of-4 drop backs as his only completion was a 10-yard third-down conversion to White.