FOXBORO, Mass. — The Patriots on Thursday night once again proved they aren’t in the same class as the Buffalo Bills, suffering an anemic 24-10 loss home loss to their AFC East rival.
New England’s offense bottomed out on a night that saw cornerback Marcus Jones lead the Patriots with 51 receiving yards while providing the only touchdown. That’s right, a rookie cornerback was the most productive player in the Patriots’ passing game.
Sophomore quarterback Mac Jones put on another inscrutable performance. Jones wasn’t good, completing 22 of 36 passes for just 195 yards and one touchdown, but he also faced pressure throughout and got no help from his receivers or coaches. Once again, Jones looked like a quarterback leading an offense with little chance of succeeding.
On the other side, Josh Allen completed 22 of 33 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns while racking up 21 yards on the ground. New England certainly did a better job of limiting Allen — they actually forced three punts! — but, in the end, the Bills offense was able to do whatever it wanted in key situations. Buffalo went 9-of-14 on third downs, excluding kneel-downs, while amassing 22 first downs, with the Patriots going 3-of-12 on third downs (1-of-8 before their final drive) and managing just 14 first downs, four of which came on the final drive.
Consider this: The Patriots offense didn’t run a play in the red zone until the 3:43 mark in the fourth quarter. And when they finally got there, they made it to Buffalo’s 8-yard line before a 13-yard sack took them back outside of the red zone, with the once-promising drive resulting in a meaningless Nick Folk field goal.
Buffalo went 3-for-3 on its red-zone trips. Star receiver Stefon Diggs caught seven balls for 92 yards and a score.
The Patriots dropped to 6-6 with the loss while the Bills improved to 9-3 with the victory. Bill Belichick’s team will look to regroup as it prepares for a Week 14 Monday night matchup with the Cardinals in Arizona.
Here are three studs and three duds from a disappointing night in New England:
LB Josh Uche
The third-year pro’s breakout campaign continued in this game, as Uche picked up two sacks to raise his season total to seven. All of Uche’s sacks have come in the last five games, with the 2020 second-round pick providing needed supplemental pass-rush as opposing offenses key in on Matthew Judon. Uche’s strip-sack of Allen late in the first half was one of the best plays of his career.
CB Marcus Jones
The rookie showed off his remarkable versatility in this game, returning kickoffs, starting at cornerback and taking a screen pass 48 yards to the house in the first quarter. Jones’ incredible speed was on full display during his touchdown, which also served as the Patriots’ first true trick play of the season. He earned a spot on this list despite a pair of poor kick returns.
LB Matthew Judon
We struggled to find a third “stud” in this game, but Judon ultimately gets the nod. He failed to record a sack for the second straight contest, but generated a few pressures — one of which resulted in a holding penalty — and picked up the fumble forced by Uche. It was a solid performance by New England’s best player.
Honorable mentions: Rhamondre Stevenson
The Patriots needed to play a clean, disciplined game to have a chance at beating the Bills, and instead, they made a mess. From six penalties for 62 yards (plus four declined penalties) to poor clock management at the end of the first half to generally bad offensive play-calling, New England looked outclassed in this matchup — and that’s on the coaches. At a certain point, you have to acknowledge that this is who the Patriots are, and they aren’t just showing occasional sloppiness atypical of Belichick-coached teams. They are a sloppy team.
They tightened up a bit in the second half, but the Patriots defense still gave up far too many long runs to Bills running backs. Buffalo racked up 135 yards on 34 carries (4.0 average), with rookie James Cook leading the charge with 14 carries for 64 yards. Cook’s 28-yarder in the first half was a back-breaker, as it gave the Bills the ball on New England’s 15-yard line and led to a touchdown four plays later.
CB Jonathan Jones
Jones wasn’t terrible, but he wasn’t good, either. The veteran corner gave up a touchdown to Diggs in the first quarter, and Allen found success while targeting him throughout the first half. He also gave up a long completion to Diggs in the third quarter. Jones is a very good player, but his performance over the last two weeks shows he’s not quite an elite cornerback.
Honorable mentions: Nick Folk, Offensive line, Mac Jones