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Josh Allen, Bills Beat Mac Jones, Patriots to Control Destiny in AFC East

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVDecember 26, 2021

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 26: Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills looks to throw the ball as Christian Barmore #90 of the New England Patriots applies pressure during the first quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 26, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)
Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills control their own destiny in the AFC East. 

Josh Allen and the Bills picked up an enormous win in Foxborough on Sunday, beating the New England Patriots 33-21 behind three touchdown passes and 64 rushing yards from the star quarterback.

Buffalo Bills @BuffaloBills

Thread it. ๐Ÿ‘€<br><br>๐Ÿ“บ: <a href="https://twitter.com/NFLonCBS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLonCBS</a> <a href="https://t.co/849Iya2GNB">pic.twitter.com/849Iya2GNB</a>

NFL @NFL

Allen to Diggs for the 9th time this season! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BillsMafia?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BillsMafia</a><br><br>๐Ÿ“บ: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BUFvsNE?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BUFvsNE</a> on CBS<br>๐Ÿ“ฑ: NFL app <a href="https://t.co/wHLf6Q3fmd">pic.twitter.com/wHLf6Q3fmd</a>

Buffalo Bills @BuffaloBills

JOSH. ALLEN. <br><br>๐Ÿ“บ: <a href="https://twitter.com/NFLonCBS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLonCBS</a> <a href="https://t.co/oPL4Ei417E">pic.twitter.com/oPL4Ei417E</a>

Buffalo Bills @BuffaloBills

Flick of the wrist. <br><br>๐Ÿ“บ: <a href="https://twitter.com/NFLonCBS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLonCBS</a> <a href="https://t.co/wxaj9VBAjf">pic.twitter.com/wxaj9VBAjf</a>

That spoiled a three-touchdown performance from Damien Harris, who did everything he could to drag New England's offense to a win.

New England Patriots @Patriots

.<a href="https://twitter.com/DHx34?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DHx34</a> delivers the TD.<br><br>๐Ÿ“บ: <a href="https://twitter.com/NFLonCBS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLonCBS</a> / Patriots app <a href="https://t.co/yXDeCGVO8I">pic.twitter.com/yXDeCGVO8I</a>

New England Patriots @Patriots

Damien does it again. <br><br>๐Ÿ“บ: <a href="https://twitter.com/NFLonCBS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLonCBS</a> / Patriots app <a href="https://t.co/dRZuOlxAZU">pic.twitter.com/dRZuOlxAZU</a>

While both teams now sit at 9-6 and split their head-to-head matchups this season, the Bills have a better record in the division (4-1) than the Pats (3-2) with two games remaining. 

So if the Bills win out against the Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets, two games in which they'll be the prohibitive favorites, the divisional title will be theirs for the second straight season. 

The Patriots, meanwhile, have now lost two straight games and gone from fighting for the top seed in the AFC to battling with a slew of teams for a wild-card berth. 


Key Stats

Josh Allen, BUF: 30-of-47 for 314 yards and three touchdowns; 64 rushing yards

Stefon Diggs, BUF: Seven catches for 85 yards and a touchdown

Isaiah McKenzie, BUF: 11 catches for 125 yards and a touchdown

Mac Jones, NE: 14-of-32 for 145 yards, two interceptions and a sack

Damien Harris, NE: 18 carries for 103 yards and three touchdowns

Jakobi Meyers, NE: Six catches for 59 yards


Isaiah McKenzie, Unexpected Hero

Coming into Sunday, Isaiah McKenzie had rushed six times for 35 yards and caught seven passes for 38 yards this season. He was pretty far down the pecking order when it came to distribution of touches in Buffalo. So you'll be excused if you never saw his massive performance coming. 

Buffalo Bills PR @BuffaloBillsPR

Isaiah McKenzie joins Cole Beasley (two times) as the only Bills to surpass 10+ catches in a game this season.

McKenzie led the Bills in receptions and receiving yards against the Patriots. He was one of four Bills to find the end zone. With Cole Beasley on the reserve/COVID-19 list and unavailable to play, it was McKenzie who served as Allen's preferred target on underneath routes. 

And boy did he step up.

Marcel Louis-Jacques @Marcel_LJ

iโ€™ll tell you what, itโ€™ll be difficult to relegate Isaiah McKenzie back to his old role after this game. Stepping up on his number is called

Mike Catalana @MikeCatalana

Isaiah McKenzie has been more impactful in this game than any <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bills?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bills</a> wide receiver this season not named Stefon Diggs <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BillsMafia?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BillsMafia</a>

Joe DiBiase @SneakyJoeSports

So, Isaiah McKenzie is this team's best slot receiver right?

Nate Geary @NateGearySports

McKenzie &gt; Beasley

Bradley Gelber @BradleyGelber

Almost like utilizing Isaiah McKenzieโ€™s speed is a smart move for the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bills?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bills</a> offense.

Talk about a crucial moment to have a career game. 


Mac Jones Had a Performance to Forget

For much of the 2021 season, the Patriots haven't needed Mac Jones to do much more than manage the game, allowing a solid run game and stout defense to lead the way. 

But on Sunday, the Pats needed Jones to come up big. The rookie couldn't deliver. 

Buffalo Bills @BuffaloBills

Pro Bowl alternate makes the INT. <br><br>๐Ÿ“บ: <a href="https://twitter.com/NFLonCBS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLonCBS</a> <a href="https://t.co/T5n7uqYlu1">pic.twitter.com/T5n7uqYlu1</a>

Aaron Schatz ๐Ÿˆ @FO_ASchatz

Mac Jones looks bad today. He's missing guys. Inaccurate. That's not normally what his issue is.

Nate Geary @NateGearySports

This is why you make Mac Jones beat you. He can't.

Matt Chatham @chatham58

Mac Jones was ragged today, put ๐Ÿˆ in a lotta bad spots, missed a lot of open guys, too many misses &amp; regrettable decisions. Just wasnt as sharp as weโ€™ve seen, as ya need to be in a game like this. Future for him is bright &amp; he did make some nice plays. Two different things, obvi

To Jones' credit, he played better in the second half after a brutal start, guiding the Pats to two touchdown drives in the final 30 minutes. But his rough start left the Pats in a hole, and with the defense struggling to slow down Allen and the dangerous Bills offense, it was a hole that proved insurmountable.


What's Next?

The Bills host the Falcons on Jan. 2 at 1 p.m. ET on Fox, while the Pats host the Jacksonville Jaguars that same date and time on CBS.