ORCHARD PARK, NY (AP) – Damien Harris scored on a 64-yard run in windy conditions in which Mac Jones only attempted three passes, and the New England Patriots cemented their familiar place atop the AFC with a 14-10 win over the Buffalo Bills on Monday night.
Defensive back Miles Bryant sealed the victory by pushing back Josh Allen’s pass to the goal line with Buffalo facing the New England fourth and -14 at the 18 with 1:55 to go.
The Patriots leaned heavily on their rushing game, winning the Bills 229-99 in rushing yards, the cold, blustery snowy night negating Allen’s powerful pass offense.
New England (9-4) won their seventh straight game, improved to 6-0 on the road this season and now have a two-win lead over the Bills (7-5) in the standings. AFC Est.
Harris finished with a season record 111 rushing yards and opened the scoring on New England’s ninth game in scrum. Facing third and fifth, Harris burst into a gaping hole in the middle and was untouched on the way to the end zone.
As the Patriots faced gusts of up to 40 mph, coach Bill Belichick pulled off a 2-point conversion with Brandon Bolden scoring just inside the left pylon.
The Patriots never hung out with Nick Folk scoring two field goals – both with the wind blowing their backs – at 34 and 41 yards.
The Bills continued their inconsistencies by losing four of their last seven games and haven’t won a back-to-back streak since going 4-0 from Sept. 19 to Oct. 10.
Although the two teams meet again in Foxborough, Mass. On December 26, Buffalo’s path to repeating themselves as division champions, let alone earning a third straight playoff spot, is suddenly blurred. The AFC wild card race now has four teams with seven wins. The Bills also fell to 5-5 against opponents in the AFC and to 3-1 against opponents in the division.
The Bills’ defense continues to be sensitive against the run. The 222 rushing yards allowed on Monday came two weeks after Jonathan Taylor scored five times and gained 185 rushing yards in the Indianapolis Colts’ 41-15 win at Buffalo.
Jones was relegated to transfer duties while attempting a pass – a 12-yard achievement in which tight end Jonnu Smith spilled the ball – in the first half. According to Elias Sports, the Patriots had the fewest passing yards and became the first team to attempt a single pass in the first half since at least 1978.
He finished 2 of 3 for 19 yards becoming the third NFL quarterback to win nine games in his rookie season, joining Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger in 2004 and Dallas’ Dak Prescott in 2016. He also joined Roethlisberger and Prescott to become the NFL’s third rookie. QB to win his first six road starts.
Each team capitalized on each other’s mistakes by trading touchdowns in the first quarter.
Harris’ touchdown came three games after Lawrence Guy of New England recovered Matt Breida’s fumble at the Patriots 31.
Buffalo responded on his next possession which was extended after N’Keal Harry slipped if Matt Haack’s punt peeked out of his helmet, with Siran Neal recovering the ball at News 14. -England. Allen hit Gabriel Davis on a slanted road in the next play to cut the lead to 8-7.
The Bills missed several scoring opportunities with a touchdown and field goal on four trips inside the 20 Patriots. This included Tyler Bass missing a 34 yard wide attempt in the wind midway through the fourth quarter.
The elements were overwhelming at times, including a wind chill that brought the temperature down in the mid-1920s.
One of New England’s Jake Bailey punters went sideways into the wind for 15 yards. Members of ESPN’s pre-match broadcast team were blown from their chairs along the sideline and orange flags were torn from the top of the left upright at the east end of the stadium.
At least the snow stopped falling before match time, after the pitch was covered in white powder two hours before kick-off.
Hyde took over the kickoff and punt return duties from Buffalo with Isaiah McKenzie and rookie Marquez Stevenson inactive. Stevenson recovered his own fumble on a punt return against the Saints in his first game by taking the post from McKenzie, who was put on the bench after his punt led the Colts to score a touchdown he two weeks ago.
Patriots: Safety Kyle Dugger, New England’s top tackle, did not play after being placed on the Reserve / COVID-19 roster last week, while linebacker Jamie Collins returned after missing three games due to an ankle injury.
Bills: Starting goalie Jon Feliciano missed his fifth game with a calf injury despite returning to training last week.
Buffalo hosted defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, who missed four games, and right tackle Spencer Brown, who missed two, after both were struck off the COVID-19 list.
Patriots: Take a week off and come back to play at the Indianapolis Colts on December 18.
Bills: Travel to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, with Tom Brady, 32-3 against Buffalo, holding the NFL record for most career wins by a quarterback over an opponent.
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