The Buffalo Bills have hit their stride right in time for the playoffs.
Buffalo defeated the New England Patriots 38-9 in Monday's AFC East showdown at Gillette Stadium and improved to 12-3 on the season with its fifth straight win. Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs led the way for the victors, who already clinched the division crown and are battling the 12-3 Pittsburgh Steelers for the No. 2 seed in the AFC.
New England is simply playing out the string and fell to 6-9 with a third straight loss.
Notable Player Stats
- Josh Allen, QB, BUF: 27-of-36 passing for 320 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs; 4 carries for 35 yards
- Stefon Diggs, WR, BUF: 9 catches for 145 yards, 3 TDs
- Zack Moss, RB, BUF: 12 carries for 57 yards, 1 TD
- Cam Newton, QB, NE: 5-of-10 passing for 34 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs; 4 carries for 24 yards, 1 TD
Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs Put on Show in Win
Whether Allen would find more consistency coming off a playoff appearance was the biggest question in Buffalo heading into the season, and he has answered that in emphatic fashion.
He entered play with 4,000 passing yards on the year and a combined 10 touchdowns in the last three games as someone who can hurt defenses with his legs, strong arm and touch on deep balls. That he figured to be the best player on the field in a matchup with the Patriots underscored the power shift within the division.
He was just that throughout Monday's game.
Allen spread the ball around to 10 different pass-catchers in the first half alone, consistently escaped the pocket with his legs, fit throws into tight windows and converted multiple fourth downs. Zack Moss scored Buffalo's first touchdown before Allen found Lee Smith and Diggs for touchdowns to open up a commanding 24-9 lead by intermission.
The Diggs touchdown went for 50 yards with Allen throwing a strike after a pump fake and the receiver doing the rest with his speed in the open field.
The pair broke the game wide open during the first possession of the second half, capping off an eight-play, 75-yard drive with another touchdown. As if that weren't enough, Allen added an exclamation point in the fourth quarter by scrambling to create space and finding Diggs for another touchdown.
It was not that difficult to envision the Bills challenging the Steelers or even the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC playoffs while watching Allen and Diggs torch New England's secondary. The quality of competition will be higher when the stakes are raised, but there is very little Allen cannot do on the field at this point.
Cam Newton Benched in Another Abysmal Performance
The days of Super Bowl or bust probably went out the window for the Patriots when Tom Brady left, but they still had a chance to compete for the playoffs this season if Cam Newton resembled something close to the 2015 MVP version of himself.
He has not come close.
The Auburn product has five touchdown passes to 10 interceptions and has not thrown multiple scores in a game all year. He has consistently struggled throwing the ball downfield, and Monday was no different.
While the performance was not all his fault with New England's offensive front allowing constant pressure, he managed just 34 passing yards into the third quarter before head coach Bill Belichick decided to bench him in favor of Jarrett Stidham.
Newton provided one bright spot when he used his athleticism to escape what seemed like a sure sack and run for a touchdown, but the juxtaposition between his struggles and Allen slinging the ball all over the field was jarring.
It put the Patriots in a position where they decided to evaluate Stidham instead of relying on the starter for any comeback attempt, and they could very well do the same in Week 17.
Newton is under contract through just this season, and he didn't do much to further convince New England to bring him back in 2021.
Both teams are home in Week 17 when the Bills face the Miami Dolphins and the Patriots host the New York Jets.