Final, Bills 24-21: Cam Newton led the New England Patriots into field-goal range in the game’s final minute — then fumbled the game away.
Justin Zimmer punched the ball out of Newton’s hands with 31 seconds remaining, sealing the Buffalo Bills’ first home win over the Patriots since 2011.
The loss was the Patriots’ fourth straight, dropping them to 2-5 on the season. The Bills improve to 6-2, strengthening their lead atop the AFC East standings.
The Patriots will visit the winless New York Jets next Monday night.
Fourth quarter, 2:00, Bills 24-21: Great route by Jakobi Meyers to move the chains on third-and-4. It’s first-and-10 Patriots from their own 45-yard line with two minutes to play.
Fourth quarter, 4:06, Bills 24-21: The Bills drove 60 yards to the Patriots’ 10-yard line but settled for a field goal after Gabriel Davis dropped an off-target Josh Allen pass in the end zone.
Can Cam Newton lead a late-game comeback?
Fourth quarter, 9:36, 21-21: Back-to-back completions to Damiere Byrd and a series of strong runs by Damien Harris helped the Patriots draw even again.
Harris has been gashing the Bills’ defense, averaging 7.1 yards per carry on the day. Cam Newton capped the drive with a 2-yard quarterback sweep.
Fourth quarter, 13:05, Bills 21-14: The onside kick came back to bite the Patriots.
The Bills offense imposed its will after being gifted prime field position, running the ball on nine consecutive plays to push across the go-ahead touchdown.
Josh Allen took the ball across the goal line himself, taking advantage of a slip by defensive tackle Nick Thurman.
Lawrence Guy, the Patriots’ top defensive tackle, left the game with a shoulder injury and is questionable to return.
Third quarter, 3:03, 14-14: We have a tie game in Buffalo.
After Josh Uche dropped Josh Allen in space to force a Bills punt and Gunner Olszewski returned that punt 15 yards to the Buffalo 37-yard line, Damien Harris sprinted through the line for a 22-yard touchdown — the Patriots’ first since Week 6.
Pulling guard Shaq Mason and fullback Jakob Johnson laid key blocks to spring Harris for his first NFL touchdown.
Cam Newton hit Jakobi Meyers on the ensuing two-point conversion.
The Patriots then attempted to catch Buffalo napping with an onside kick but were unsuccessful.
Third quarter, 7:36, Bills 14-6: Good news for the Patriots: They converted their first third down of the game, with Cam Newton flipping a pitch to Rex Burkhead on a nifty option play.
Bad news for the Patriots: Newton immediately was sacked for a 9-yard loss one play later. Jerry Hughes breezed past tight end Ryan Izzo to drop the QB, and the Patriots punted three plays later.
This offense simply is not constructed to pick up chunk yardage when necessary. The Patriots now are 1-for-6 on third down.
Third quarter, 12:09, Bills 14-6: What a mess that drive was for the Patriots’ defense.
In a blink, the Bills blitzed down the field for their second touchdown of the game, picking up 6, 6, 18 and 41 yards on their first four plays before Zack Moss powered his way in for a 4-yard score.
The 41-yarder was a catch-and-run by Stefon Diggs, who caught a 9-yard pass from Josh Allen and did the rest himself. The other four plays were running plays, with the Patriots displaying some uncharacteristically poor tackling.
Missed tackles were a major issue last week against San Francisco, as well.
Halftime, Bills 7-6: After making conservative play calls on third down throughout the first half, the Patriots opted to send the field-goal unit out with 12 seconds to play.
With no timeouts, Bill Belichick evidently did not want to risk a sack or tackle in bounds. Nick Folk slotted it from 33 yards out, cutting the Patriots’ deficit to one.
Given how injured their roster is and how their last few games have gone, that’s not a bad first-half outcome for the Pats.
Buffalo will receive the second-half kickoff.
Second quarter, 1:47, Bills 7-3: The Patriots will have a chance to take the lead before halftime after J.C. Jackson intercepted an errant Josh Allen pass on third-and-8.
It was Jackson’s fourth interception of the season and his fourth in five career games against Allen. The Patriots will take over near midfield.
Stephon Gilmore liked what he saw:
Second quarter, 5:30, Bills 7-3: That’s back-to-back solid drives by the Patriots’ defense, which withstood a potentially costly third-down offsides penalty by Devin McCourty to force a Bills punt.
One surprise contributor: practice squad call-up Tashawn Bower, who’s made some notable plays in each of the last two games. Jason McCourty broke up a pass on third-and-9.
The Patriots’ offense went nowhere on the ensuing possession. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels called three consecutive run plays — including a jet sweep to Gunner Olszewski on second down that picked up 6 yards — before punting.
Second quarter, 10:50, Bills 7-3: The Patriots are on the board. Nick Folk drilled a 43-yard field goal after a 28-yard catch-and-run by James White.
Penalties have been an issue for the Patriots in this game. After being largely flag-free on the offensive side in the first six games, they’s been penalized four times already, including three pre-snap infractions. Joe Thuney also was flagged for holding.
End first quarter, Bills 7-0: Welcome to the NFL, Josh Uche.
The rookie linebacker checked in for the first time on third-and-long and immediately registered a QB hit on Josh Allen, helping force a Bills punt.
Chase Winovich, Uche’s former Michigan teammate, also brought pressure on the play.
At the moment, it appears the Patriots only plan to use Uche and Winovich in obvious passing situations. We’ll see if that changes as the game progresses.
Over on offense, the Patriots still look listless. They have yet to score an offensive touchdown in any first quarter this season.
First quarter, 5:20, Bills 7-0: The Bills entered this game ranked 32nd in rush offense DVOA, but they were able to move the ball with relative ease on their first possession.
Buffalo ran the ball seven times for 60 yards on the 10-play drive, with Josh Allen juking out Adrian Phillips on a 19-yard scramble and rookie Zack Moss capping the series with 21- and 8-yard runs on back-to-back plays. The second opened the scoring.
Moss had gaping holes on each of his carries. The Patriots’ front seven continues to struggle.
First quarter, 10:39, 0-0: The Patriots’ offense won’t have much room for error today. An early mistake derailed what had been a productive opening drive.
After picking up 7, 7, 4 and 9 yards on their first four plays, the Patriots committed a delay of game penalty. They gained a total of 1 yard over the next three plays — with Cam Newton bouncing a short pass and Rex Burkhead being enveloped in the backfield on third-and-12 — then punted.
First quarter, 15:00, 0-0: Game time. The Patriots will get the ball first after the Bills won the opening coin toss and deferred.
11:30 a.m.: Here are today’s Patriots inactives:
— With Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene both out, Ryan Izzo is the Patriots’ only active tight end. Not ideal on a day New England could lean heavily on the run. Fullback Jakob Johnson also could chip in there.
— Rookie linebacker Josh Uche is active and will make his NFL debut. Hopes were high for the second-round draft pick entering the season. His speed/size combo could make him a game-changer at inside ‘backer.
— Running back J.J. Taylor draws back into the lineup after two straight healthy scratches.
— Undrafted rookie cornerback Myles Bryant is active for the first time with Stephon Gilmore down. J.C. Jackson, who was questionable with a knee injury, will play.
— Guards Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason both are active. That’s big for the Patriots’ offensive line.
10:42 a.m.: Dalton Keene, whom we mentioned earlier, is testing his injured knee for Patriots medical personnel, according to reporters in Buffalo, indicating he’s a game-time decision.
Defensive tackle Lawrence Guy did the same earlier. Both are listed as questionable.
Losing Keene would leave the Patriots with just Ryan Izzo and fullback Jakob Johnson as available tight end options.
10:36 a.m.: The weather right now in Buffalo? Cold. Wet. Windy. Generally unpleasant, according to reporters on site.
Today’s conditions might not match the goal post-tilting gales the Patriots experienced when they visited then-Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2008, but they’re sure to make life difficult for quarterbacks Cam Newton and Josh Allen.
9:45 a.m.: The Patriots will be without rookie tight end Devin Asiasi, who did not make the trip due to personal reasons. It’s unclear if Asiasi would have been active anyway, as he sat out last week’s game as a healthy scratch.
Expect Ryan Izzo and rookie Dalton Keene to be the Patriots’ tight ends today, assuming Keene (questionable, knee) is healthy enough to play.
9 a.m. ET: The New England Patriots have lost each of their last three games. They desperately need to break that streak this afternoon.
The 2-4 Patriots are in Buffalo today to take on the 5-2 Bills, who sit atop the AFC East standings and can take a potentially insurmountable division lead with a win over the flailing Pats.
Patriots quarterback Cam Newton was candid about this game’s importance this week, calling it “a must-win” for New England.
As we count down the final hours before kickoff, here’s a rundown of New England’s latest roster moves:
— Ruled out cornerback Stephon Gilmore, wide receivers Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry, safety Kyle Dugger, offensive lineman Justin Herron and defensive tackle Carl Davis
— Placed Edelman and Herron on injured reserve
— Activated linebacker Josh Uche and special teamer Cody Davis off IR
— Removed running back Sony Michel from the reserve/COVID-19 list (but did not activate him off IR)
— Promoted defensive tackle Nick Thurman from the practice squad to the 53-man roster
— Temporarily promoted wide receiver Isaiah Zuber and edge rusher Tashawn Bower from the practice squad
Uche, a second-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, should make his NFL debut today. Zuber joins a depleted receiving corps that also features Damiere Byrd, Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski.
Patriots guards Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason, running back Damien Harris, cornerback J.C. Jackson, outside linebackers John Simon and Shilique Calhoun, defensive tackle Lawrence Guy and tight end Dalton Keene are listed as questionable.
Game time is set for 1 p.m. ET at Bills Stadium. Follow along throughout the day for full pre- and in-game coverage.