NFL playoffs: Josh Allen’s record night powers Bills’ rout of division rival Patriots
Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills erased any doubt of who now rules the AFC East.
Allen set a team playoff record with five touchdown passes, including two to Dawson Knox, and Devin Singletary ran for two scores in the first half of a 47-17 throttling of the division rival New England Patriots in a wild-card playoff game Saturday night.
Allen finished 21 for 25 for 308 yards and ran for 66 yards in a game in which Buffalo scored on each of its seven possessions that didn’t end with a kneeldown.
“That sounds like some Pop Warner stuff,” Bills defensive tackle Harrison Phillips said.
Added Allen: “We had guys coming out here, we were ready to play. Good week of practice. Lot of preparation went into this one.”
No need to remind Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon.
“Shoot, every drive we couldn’t get a stop was frustrating,” Judon said. “It wasn’t only one play. It wasn’t one, single player. It was everything. It was the whole game.”
The Allen-led offense was so efficient it gained 480 yards offense on just 51 snaps before backup Mitchell Trubisky finished the game with three kneeldowns.
Buffalo beat New England for a second time in three weeks and rebounded from an embarrassing 14-10 loss at home Dec. 6 in which the Patriots attempted just three passes while finishing with 222 yards rushing to counter the blustery conditions.
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And don’t think for a moment Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes forgot. He recalled how reporters specifically questioned safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde as being embarrassed.
“It was a little bit on my mind,” Hughes said, accusing the media of antagonizing his teammates and a defense that led the NFL in fewest yards and points allowed.
“There was a lot of disrespect coming toward our defense. And so we felt like the only way to shut people up is to go out there and play football and let you guys sit and watch and talk,” Hughes added. “And that’s what we’re doing right now, playing football.”
The margin of defeat was the largest in the playoffs for New England in coach Bill Belichick’s tenure, which began in 2000.
Though the winds were relatively calm Saturday, the Bills were hot in frigid conditions, with a game-time temperature of 7 degrees.
The third-seeded Bills advanced to the divisional round to host either the Cincinnati Bengals, who beat the Las Vegas Raiders earlier in the day, or travel to Kansas City, depending on the outcome of the Chiefs’ game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. A trip to Kansas City would feature a rematch of last year’s AFC championship game, which the Chiefs won 38-24.
Buffalo gained 300 yards of total offense, had 19 first downs and built a 27-3 lead at halftime. The 30-point margin of victory and 47 points scored were the second most by the Bills in a playoff game behind a 51-3 win over the then-Los Angeles Raiders in the AFC championship game Jan. 20, 1991.
“I think we feel good,” Allen said. “There’s some things that we can clean up and work on. But at the end of the day, we moved on, we’re on to the next one, and it doesn’t matter what we did today. It’s what we do next week. We’ve got to put our foot forward and be ready for the next one.”
Joe Burrow led an efficient offense, and the Cincinnati Bengals at last advanced in the playoffs with a 26-19 wild-card win over the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Bills rolled into the postseason by winning their final four games to clinch their second consecutive division title. After losing 35 of 40 meetings to New England from 2000 to 2019, Buffalo has now defeated the Patriots in four of the last five meetings, coinciding with Tom Brady’s departure to Tampa Bay.
The Patriots limped into the playoffs by losing three of their last four and were effectively outclassed in rookie quarterback Mac Jones’ postseason debut.
“Get ready to go next year. There’s nothing we can do now that can change the outcome of what happened tonight or whatever, the last, since December,” Patriots center David Andrews said. “It’s frustrating. It’s disappointing. Missed opportunity. It’s fleeting.”
New England’s previous worst playoff loss under Belichick was a 33-14 defeat to the Baltimore Ravens, also in the wild-card round, on Jan. 10, 2010.
Jones struggled in finishing 24 for 38 for 232 yards with two touchdown throws to Kendrick Bourne, including a four-yarder in the final two minutes. Jones was also intercepted twice in closing his season with a combined seven touchdowns passing and seven interceptions in his final five outings.
The Bills put the Patriots on their heels from the opening drive, with Allen patiently waiting in the pocket before scrambling to his right and avoiding a sack. Before stepping out of bounds, Allen lobbed an eight-yard pass to a wide-open Knox in the back right corner of the end zone.
Buffalo’s defense then snuffed out the Patriots’ opening drive with Hyde having the speed and angle to make a leaping interception in snatching the ball away just before Nelson Agholor was about to catch it in the end zone. Jones was also intercepted on New England’s opening drive of the second half when his pass intended for Hunter Henry was deflected by linebacker Matt Milano and picked off by Levi Wallace.
“Guys made some unbelievable plays — offense, defense, special teams,” Allen said. “We started off really fast with the touchdown. Micah with the unbelievable play there in the end zone. We just kept the momentum rolling all day today.
“We were happy to get this one.”
No series was more indicative of New England’s flat-footed performance than allowing Singletary to score on a 16-yard run to cap a four-play, 89-yard scoring drive to put Buffalo up 27-0 with 1:53 left in the first half. Allen placed a perfect 45-yard pass to Stefon Diggs, who had a step on New England’s top defensive back J.C. Jackson, a Pro Bowl selection, up the right sideline. Two plays later, Singletary eluded the entire Patriots defense in reaching the end zone.
Before he became an NFL star, Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen made a name for himself in Firebaugh, Calif., a town very proud of its native son.
Patriots kicker Nick Folk’s 44-yard field goal with one second left in the first half extended his streak to 56 attempts made from under 50 yards. That matched the NFL record set by Tennessee’s Ryan Succup, whose mark spanned the 2014 to 2017 seasons. Folk hasn’t missed a field-goal attempt of 49 yards or less since missing a 45-yarder in the 2020 season opener against Miami.
The game was the fourth coldest in Bills history with a game-time temperature of 7 degrees, and the wind-chill making it feel like minus-4.
The coldest game was played 28 years ago to the day in Buffalo’s 29-23 win over the then-Los Angeles Raiders 29-23 in a divisional playoff game en route to the Bills making their fourth consecutive — and last — Super Bowl appearance. The game-time temperature was zero, with the wind-chill making the conditions feel like minus-32.
Patriots: Season over.
Bills: Either travel to face Kansas City or host Cincinnati.
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