The offense showed some signs of life. The defense made the stops when it had to. Special teams contributed as well. At the end of the day, however, it was all for naught: when Cam Newton lost a fumble deep in Buffalo Bills territory down only three points, he sealed the New England Patriots’ fate. The team lost 24-21 and now sits at 2-5 after having been defeated four straight games.
Patriots (2-5) 21 : 24 Bills (6-2)
New England lost the coin toss and started the game on offense, producing a series that did not end with any points but still rivaled anything the team did last week against the San Francisco 49ers. Cam Newton and company quickly crossed midfield with the running game as the catalyst, but eventually saw their encouraging-staring series stall after a delay of game penalty, an incomplete throw and some short runs — including one on 3rd-and-12.
After a short punt, Buffalo started its first possession at its own 22-yard line. Like New England’s opening drive, the Bills’ also relied on the ground game quite a bit to move the ball. The result was a different one, though. Aided by long runs from Josh Allen and Zack Moss as well as a 3rd-and-4 conversion pass to Cole Beasley, the Bills reached the red zone in a hurry and finally scored on an 8-yard run by Moss to take a 7-0 lead. [Patriots 0 : 7 Bills]
The Patriots’ next drive started with a 16-yard pass from Newton to Jakobi Meyers, but the encouraging start did not lead to any other positive plays. The drive ended with New England having gained two first downs, including one via penalty, and the team’s quarterback getting sacked for a 4-yard loss on a 3rd-and-8.
The ensuing Bills possession saw the Patriots defense settle down. While the unit did give up a 20-yard completion to Stefon Diggs on the first play of the drive, it eventually forced a punt just three offensive plays later. The final play of that drive saw New England’s Michigan connection step up: Chase Winovich and Josh Uche provided pressure to force Josh Allen to throw the football away on third down.
Coming off another scoreless first quarter for the Patriots offense, the unit had some positive moments like a 28-yard catch-and-run by James White. However, it again failed to string together enough positive plays to find the end zone or even the red area. Nevertheless, the team did put some points up thanks to a 43-yard Nick Folk field goal. [Patriots 3 : 7 Bills]
After some perfect coverage on the ensuing kickoff, New England’s defense also had a strong series to get off the field again after only five plays following a Jason McCourty pass breakup on third down. The offense, however, was unable to build off of its momentum: it had three straight runs for minimal yardage, and went three-and-out.
While the Bills were able to drive into New England territory on their following drive, the Patriots defense came up with another big play when J.C. Jackson intercepted Josh Allen on third down.
Jackson returned the interception 25 yards to the Buffalo side of the field, setting up the Patriots’ second scoring drive: with Cam Newton connecting with Jakobi Meyers and Ryan Izzo, New England reached the Bills’ red zone for the first time all game. With only 12 seconds remaining, however, the team decided to go for the 33-yard field goal instead of risking another Kansas City scenario that saw the team come away without any points. [Patriots 6 : 7 Bills]
After receiving the game’s opening kickoffs, the Patriots started the second half on defense and in rather slow fashion: the Bills marched down the field with ease to score their second touchdown of the day. After some big plays on the ground and a 41-yard reception by Stefon Diggs, Zack Moss found the end zone again — capping a 75-yard series that featured only five plays. [Patriots 6 : 14 Bills]
New England’s offense responded with a solid-looking drive that featured some creative run designs. When the Patriots found themselves in a must-pass situation after losing nine yards on a first down sack, however, they again failed to do so and eventually had to punt the ball away again.
While the offense continued to struggle, the Patriots’ defense bounced back nicely after a disappointing first series earlier that quarter. The unit forced a three-and-out, with Josh Uche making a terrific open-field tackle on third down, before Gunner Olszewski returned a comparatively short punt 15 yards to the Bills’ 37-yard line.
Starting with strong field position, New England’s offense produced its first touchdown drive since Week 6. Following a 10-yard run by Rex Burkhead to convert a 3rd-and-10 — the pivotal play of the series — second-year back Damien Harris found the end zone from 22 yards out:
With New England also converting the ensuing two-point try when Cam Newton connected with Jakobi Meyers, the game was suddenly tied at 14 late in the third quarter. [Patriots 14 : 14 Bills]
Following the touchdown, the Patriots tried to keep the momentum going by attempting a surprise onside kick. Buffalo recovered, however, to set up its offense in New England territory before quickly proceeding to drive into the red zone yet again.
With the running game again finding holes in the Patriots’ defense, the Bills drove into goal-to-go territory. Even though New England held on the first two plays, the offense eventually reached the end zone on a two-yard quarterback draw by Josh Allen. [Patriots 14 : 21 Bills]
The Patriots offense answered Buffalo’s touchdown with one of their own. Thanks to back-to-back passes from Cam Newton to Damiere Byrd that were followed up by some impressive running from Damien Harris, New England’s quarterback finished the series in style when he found the end zone on 3rd-and-goal from the 2-yard line:
The extra point was good as well, and the game was tied once more. [Patriots 21 : 21 Bills]
Buffalo responded with another good-looking series that saw the team reach the New England red area. However, the Patriots’ bend-but-don’t-break defense did just that: it held on third down to force a Bills field goal from 28 yards out. The kick was good, giving Cam Newton and company a chance to at least drive for the tie with four minutes remaining. [Patriots 21 : 24 Bills]
New England’s potential game-winning drive saw the team move the football well early on. With some more strong running, the offense moved right into field goal range. After not turning the football over all game, however, the team lost a fumble at the most crucial moment: Cam Newton was stripped from behind at the Bills’ 14-yard line with the home team recovering the football and kneeling out the game.