Patriots Edge Josh Allen, Bills on MNF as Mac Jones Attempts Only 3 Passes

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 7, 2021

New England Patriots running back Brandon Bolden (25) gets past Buffalo Bills safety Micah Hyde (23) for a two-point conversion after a touchdown run by Patriots running back Damien Harris during the first half of an NFL football game in Orchard Park, N.Y., Monday, Dec. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex )
AP Photo/Joshua Bessex

First place in the AFC East belongs to the New England Patriots.

New England defeated the Buffalo Bills 14-10 in Monday's low-scoring divisional clash at Highmark Stadium. Mac Jones attempted just three passes, but Damien Harris and the defense led the way for the victors as they improved to 9-4 on the season with a seventh consecutive win.


SEVEN STRAIGHT FOR THE PATS. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ForeverNE?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ForeverNE</a> <a href="https://t.co/zmE6RkewMg">pic.twitter.com/zmE6RkewMg</a>

Buffalo moved into the red zone twice in the fourth quarter, but the Patriots forced a missed field goal and turnover on downs to preserve the win.

The defense also played well for the Bills, although it wasn't enough to prevent them from dropping to 7-5 overall and 3-4 in their last seven games.

Notable Player Stats

  • Mac Jones, QB, NE: 2-of-3 passing for 19 yards
  • Damien Harris, RB, NE: 10 carries for 111 yards, 1 TD
  • Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, NE: 24 carries for 78 yards
  • Josh Allen, QB, BUF: 15-of-30 passing for 145 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs; 6 carries for 39 yards
  • Stefon Diggs, WR, BUF: 4 catches for 51 yards

No Quarterback Necessary for Patriots

Perhaps nobody in the NFL was playing better football than the Patriots coming into Monday's game, and the blustery weather figured to play right into their hands since they have been so reliant on the running game and short passing attack.

The game plan was crystal clear when Jones threw a grand total of one pass in the entire first half and New England still held an 11-7 lead.

Harris exploded past a crowded box for a 64-yard touchdown run, and Brandon Bolden's two-point conversion gave the visitors an early lead in the first quarter. Nick Folk also cut through the wind with a field goal, and the defense played well enough to ensure the advantage held up heading into the second half.


Can confirm: it's windy. <br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NEvsBUF?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NEvsBUF</a> on ESPN<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/wsVL8IokGf">https://t.co/wsVL8IokGf</a> <a href="https://t.co/PTfPm0IewN">pic.twitter.com/PTfPm0IewN</a>

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

DAMIEN HARRIS TURNS ON THE JETS 🔥<br><br>His 64-yard TD gives the Patriots an early lead over the Bills<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/NFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFL</a>) <br> <a href="https://t.co/3vDeetpm7o">pic.twitter.com/3vDeetpm7o</a>

Next Gen Stats @NextGenStats

Damien Harris (64-yd TD run)<br><br>Harris reached a top speed of 21.01 mph, the fastest speed by a Patriots running back in the NGS era. Harris is also responsible for 2nd, 3rd &amp; 4th-fastest marks. <br><br>🔹+61 Rush Yards Over Expected (Patriots 5-yr high)<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StatThat?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StatThat</a> | Powered by <a href="https://twitter.com/awscloud?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@awscloud</a> <a href="https://t.co/Om452BtceK">pic.twitter.com/Om452BtceK</a>

New England Patriots @Patriots

Jonnu: 1<br>Wind: 0<a href="https://twitter.com/Easymoney_81?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Easymoney_81</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ForeverNE?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ForeverNE</a><br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNNFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ESPNNFL</a> / Patriots app <a href="https://t.co/06l0YgZrCY">pic.twitter.com/06l0YgZrCY</a>

Still, there was plenty of pressure on the defense to hold up against Josh Allen and Co. given New England's offensive approach. While it did a solid job of keeping the mobile quarterback in the pocket, the game got that much closer in the third quarter when Tyler Bass drilled a field goal through the wind.

The Patriots responded like they were a service academy at the collegiate level and used tight formations with fullbacks and tight ends to shorten the game and go with run after run. They even unleashed a quarterback sneak on back-to-back plays on third and fourth down, but Buffalo finally responded in the red zone with multiple tackles for loss to force another field goal.

While Jones finally threw multiple passes in the fourth quarter, it became all the more obvious it would be up to the defense if New England was going to win when Harris was ruled out with a hamstring injury.

The defense answered the call with two red-zone stops in the fourth quarter with Myles Bryant breaking up the final fourth-down attempt after a clutch Matthew Judon sack on the previous drive.

Bills Squander 4th-Quarter Chances

Monday was an opportunity for the Bills to right the proverbial ship after going just 3-3 in the previous six games. The inconsistency prevented them from building on a promising 4-1 start, although all it would take was a home win over the rival Patriots to seize control of the division again.

While the weather was largely to blame, they certainly didn't look ready to seize control of the division in the early going.

A fumbled exchange between Allen and Matt Breida ended a promising drive in New England territory, and the offense punted on four of its other five possessions in the first half as it struggled to move the ball in the elements.


First turnover of the night lands in the <a href="https://twitter.com/Patriots?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Patriots</a> defense hands. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ForeverNE?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ForeverNE</a><br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NEvsBUF?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NEvsBUF</a> on ESPN<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/wsVL8IokGf">https://t.co/wsVL8IokGf</a> <a href="https://t.co/W7PwREYR6U">pic.twitter.com/W7PwREYR6U</a>


Josh Allen to Gabriel Davis puts the <a href="https://twitter.com/BuffaloBills?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BuffaloBills</a> on the board! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BillsMafia?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BillsMafia</a><br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NEvsBUF?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NEvsBUF</a> on ESPN<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/wsVL8IokGf">https://t.co/wsVL8IokGf</a> <a href="https://t.co/CHlGJkEVds">pic.twitter.com/CHlGJkEVds</a>


Belichick dials up the all out blitz to get the fourth down stop. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ForeverNE?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ForeverNE</a><br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NEvsBUF?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NEvsBUF</a> on ESPN<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/wsVL8IokGf">https://t.co/wsVL8IokGf</a> <a href="https://t.co/eJ7BwilWuz">pic.twitter.com/eJ7BwilWuz</a>

Yet the halftime deficit would have been much worse than four if one of those punts didn't hit N'Keal Harry to set Buffalo up in the red zone. Allen found Gabriel Davis for a touchdown on the ensuing play, which was all the home team needed to stay well within striking distance heading into the second half.

There were only so many possessions to work with in that second half, though, since New England completely abandoned even the threat of a pass on almost every play. The two sides traded field goals in the third quarter, which at least gave the Bills a chance to win it in the fourth.

It seemed as if they would do just that when they advanced to the 6-yard line, but Judon's sack led to a missed field goal. They still got one more opportunity after New England went three-and-out, but they never advanced past the 13-yard line.

The back-to-back empty trips to the red zone will surely haunt Buffalo fans if their team finishes behind the Patriots in the final standings.           

What's Next?

The Bills travel to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 14, while the Patriots head into their bye before a road game against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 15.