The New England Patriots’ season came to an end Sunday after a 35-23 loss to the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park. Despite Mac Jones tossing three touchdowns, New England could not overcome two Nyheim Hines kick-return touchdowns.
Here’s everything that happened in Buffalo on Sunday.
Final Score: Patriots (8-9) 23 : 35 Bills (13-4)
The Patriots won the coin toss and deferred, and their kickoff coverage continued to struggle. On the opening kick, Nyheim Hines took it all the way back to the house for an opening score. [Patriots 0 : 7 Bills]
New England’s offense has zero success on their first possession of the game. After a Mac Jones incompletion and a Damien Harris two-yard run, Jones was sacked on third-down for a nine-yard loss.
Josh Allen found Stefon Diggs on back-to-back passes for 11 total yards on Buffalo’s first offensive plays of the afternoon. After an incompletion and three-yard check down, the Patriots brought pressure on third-down and sacked Allen for a 13-yard loss. Buffalo punted back to New England.
Two straight Rhamondre Stevenson touches set up a third-and-one for New England, where Jones found Jakobi Meyers for a 20-yard gain. The next play, Jones dropped back and found DeVante Parker for a 17-yard gain across the middle of the field. Jones again found Parker several plays later to set New England up inside the 10-yard line. After a Mac Jones designed run, he then found Meyers - who made an incredible catch - in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. [Patriots 7 : 7 Bills]
A six-yard run by Devin Singletary and short scramble from Allen set Buffalo up with an opening third-and-two, where Allen found Diggs for a 16-yard gain. A completion to Gabe Davis set them up with another third-and-short, where Singletary powered through for a conversion. Allen then found Diggs on a perfectly placed back shoulder ball two plays later for another 16-yarder. After a beautiful pass breakup from Devin McCourty in the end zone, Allen found Davis on third-down under pressure to set Buffalo up inside the five-yard line. On second-and-goal, New England generated no pressure and Allen found Dawson Knox for a touchdown. [Patriots 7 : 14 Bills]
A first-down run from Damien Harris was blown up for a six-yard loss as the refs missed Ed Oliver getting an early start. Jones then found Parker along the sideline to set up a third-and-seven. Buffalo got quick pressure on Jones, who was forced to throw it at the feet of Harris. They then punted back to Buffalo.
James Cook picked up seven yards on two straight touches to set Buffalo up with another third-and-short - where Allen found Isaiah McKenzie for a six-yard conversion. On a then third-and-six, Daniel Ekuale got home to bring Allen down for a four-yard sack.
Jones found Kendrick Bourne in the flat for a four-yard gain to start New England’s next drive, then Stevenson broke free up the middle for an 18-yard gain. After a check down to Stevenson, Jones connected with Bourne again off play-action for 20 more yards. Two straight runs by Stevenson and Harris set up a third-and-three, where Jones found Bourne again for a 10-yard conversion. On second-and-goal, Jones found DeVante Parker in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. [Patriots 14 : 14 Bills]
Injury Report: DL DaMarcus Mitchell (head) and LB Matthew Judon (ankle) are questionable to return.
Buffalo got to work on the ground on their next drive, as James Cook and Devin Singletary totaled 33 yards on three straight carries. Following the two-minute warning, Allen found Diggs for six yards before Cook picked up three more on the ground. On third-and-one, Allen kept it himself on a QB sneak for a first-down. Allen then had back-to-back scrambles for 13 combined yards and another first-down. Back-to-back incompletions to the end zone set Buffalo up with a third-and-10, where Allen was hit as he threw and his pass was intercepted by Devin McCourty.
Injury Update: LB Matthew Judon (ankle) returned to the game.
Following the pick, Jones aired one out to Jakobi Meyers downfield but the pass fell incomplete. With just nine seconds left in the half, Jones took a knee to enter halftime.
A quick screen to Kendrick Bourne kicked off the second half as the receiver ran for 11 yards and a first-down. New England then face a third-and-four, where Jones stepped up in the pocket and found a sliding Hunter Henry for a 13-yard conversion. Two straight Damien Harris runs set the Patriots up with another third-and-short, where Jones’ pass was broken up. On fourth-and-one, New England kept the offense on the field and Jones hit Henry for a first-down. Stevenson then forced several missed tackles en route to a 16-yard gain on the ground. Jones next pass downfield to Nelson Agholor was off the mark and intercepted by Tre’Davious White.
Starting at the one-yard line after the interception, Buffalo went to the ground. On second-down, Jonathan Jones punched out the ball from Singletary and New England recovered.
The Patriots were set up at the Buffalo 11-yard line following the turnover, but they were not able to capitalize. A two-yard run by Harris was followed with an incompletion to the back in the end zone. On third-down, Jones scrambled for a three-yard gain. New England then settled for a field goal. [Patriots 17 : 14 Bills]
New England’s struggles on kick coverage plagued them again, as Hines took the next kickoff back for a 101-yard touchdown - his second of the game. [Patriots 17 : 21 Bills]
Mac Jones found Henry for a nine-yard gain and then kept it himself for a first-down on New England’s next drive. That was all the success they found, as Jones’ pass on third-and-seven to Tyquan Thornton was incomplete. New England punted back to Buffalo.
A Josh Allen check down to Dawson Knox set up a third-and-one for Buffalo, which Allen kept it himself for a sneak and conversion. Allen’s designed run the next play was stopped by Matthew Judon for a one-yard loss. Buffalo then hit their biggest play of the day, as Allen found Khalil Shakir for a 26-yard catch and run. They immediately one-uped it, as Allen improvised and found John Brown for a 42-yard gain. [Patriots 17 : 28 Bills]
New England’s offense found some life back with the ball, as Jones found Parker for 15 yards before Harris broke loose for a 19-yard run. A holding penalty shortly after set New England up with a first-and-20, but Stevenson got 14 of the yards back on two straight touches. On third-and-six, a completion Henry came up just short of the sticks, but New England kept their offense on the field as Jones found Meyers off play-action for a first-down. The next play, Jones lobbed one downfield and Parker went up and snagged it for a touchdown. The two-point conversion failed. [Patriots 23 : 28 Bills]
Not wanting to kickoff to Hines, New England dialed up a squib kick but it traveled out of bounds setting Buffalo up at the 40-yard line. One their first play, Allen connected with Gabe Davis for 11 yards. Allen found Knox for another first-down two plays later, but a chop block negated it. On second-and-23, Allen hit McKenzie for 13 yards and then delivered a dime downfield to Diggs for a 49-yard touchdown. [Patriots 23 : 35 Bills]
Trailing by 12, the Patriots offense went three-and-out after three straight incompletions. Jones delivered a great ball downfield to Parker on third-down, but it clanked off his helmet and fell incomplete. The punt then hit a Bills player as Matthew Slater blocked Taiwan Jones into it and Bentley was able to recover to give New England life. After a run was blown up for a four-yard loss, Jones hit Thornton for a 13-yard gain. On third-and-one, Harris broke up the middle for 13 more yards. A bad call on a pass interference penalty by Hunter Henry set New England up in a first-and-20. After a draw on second-down, Jones’ aggressive third-down pass was intercepted.
Buffalo started on the 39-yard line after the interception return and Allen found Diggs for six yards. After Cook picked up a first-down on the ground, Buffalo then faced a third-and-12. On the play, Allen sent one all the way to the end zone which Gabe Davis just failed to haul it in. Buffalo then punted back to New England.
With just over three minutes remaining, Jones checked it down twice to Henry and Harris. On third-and-one, a pass to Harris was tipped up in the air and intercepted by Tremaine Edmonds.
Two carries by James Cook picked up a first-down, then Buffalo went to the kneel down to run out the clock. [Patriots 23 : 35 Bills]