Last-place Patriots Lose 3d Straight to Buffalo, 24-10
Music by Eddie Murphy and Rick Astley played over the sound system. The throwback Pat Patriot uniforms were resplendent in red.
On the field, too, the New England players were reminding fans of a bygone era.
A worse one.
Josh Allen threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns on Thursday night to lead the Buffalo Bills to a 24-10 victory over the Patriots, their third straight victory over New England. It's the first time the Bills have beaten the Patriots three times in a row since 2000 - before Tom Brady took his first NFL snap.
"These games get bigger and bigger. So when you fall short, it's disappointing," Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty said. ""We have some time. We need to regroup, reset, decide what we want the rest of our season to be."
With Brady running the New England offense, the Patriots won six Super Bowls and 17 AFC East titles in 19 years. But Brady's departure created an opening atop the division, and the Bills have taken over, with two straight division titles and the inside track on a third.
After Thursday's win, Buffalo (9-3) is a half-game ahead of Miami and three games ahead of the last-place Patriots (6-6). New England hasn't finished last since back-to-back fifth-place finishes in 1999-2000.
"It's not over yet. We're 6-6, we've got more games to play, and that's what we're going to do," New England linebacker Matthew Judon said. "Were going to see this team again."
Mac Jones completed 22 of 36 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown, but the Patriots went 3 for 12 on third down and failed to score in their only trip inside the red zone. The Bills ran 72 offensive plays to New England's 51, and controlled the clock for 38 minutes, 8 seconds.
Jones was caught by the broadcast cameras venting on the sideline, shouting (with some expletives): "Throw the ball. The running game sucks."
Asked to explain afterward, he said: "I shouted that out to try to get everyone going. That's emotional. That's football. I'm passionate about this game. You don't want to let your emotions get the best of you. It wasn't directed at anybody, just emotion coming out."
After playing three games in 12 days, the Patriots have 11 days before they get back on the field. That will give running back Damien Harris a chance to come back from a thigh injury and provide some help for Rhamondre Stevenson.
The offensive line is also banged up, with tackles Isaiah Wynn (foot) and Yodny Cajuste (calf) missing Thursday's game.
Sometimes you're fortunate. ... Sometimes it's like this," said center David Andrews, who missed last game with a thigh injury but returned against Buffalo. "Every team deals with it. Some teams are more fortunate at times."
Part of that time will be spent traveling West, where they have back-to-back games against Arizona and Las Vegas. They return home to play Cincinnati and Miami before meeting the Bills again, in Buffalo, in the season finale.
"We get to play them again, that's the good thing," Stevenson said. "We've got to be better next time."