Even if the stars were aligned, the Buffalo Bills seemingly could not beat the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
For the 14th time since the building opened, the Bills came up short against their AFC rival 37-16 on Sunday, but the final score fails to tell the whole story. The game was tied at 16 with five minutes remaining in the third quarter before the Patriots pulled away.
In the dying moments of the first half, the Bills were inside the New England 10-yard line and trailing 13-10. With six seconds remaining, Tyrod Taylor connected on a pass to Kelvin Benjamin in the back of the endzone.
The play was originally ruled a touchdown, before a lengthy review process overturned the call. It appeared Benjamin maintained possession while getting both feet down in bounds, but the NFL officials saw differently.
The Bills responded with a 23-yard field goal to tie the game 13-13 at halftime.
Buffalo opened the second half with the ball, and seemed to be in business after LeSean McCoy turned a short screen pass into an electric 39-yard gain. However, the Bills were stifled inside the red zone, with a pass to Pat DiMarco resulting in an 8-yard loss, followed by an incomplete pass to Mike Tolbert and a Taylor scramble that failed to reach the original line of scrimmage. The Bills kicked their third field goal of the game to take a 16-13 lead, but the success felt hollow.
On the next Patriots drive, Deon Lewis was originally ruled short of a first down on a 4th and 1, but the replay review overturned that call as well against Buffalo. The Bills were able to force a Patriots field goal on that drive to tie the game at 16, but again, the success felt hollow.
As so often happens, the Patriots finally took advantage of the Bills’ inability to capitalize on opportunities. After a defensive pass interference put New England one yard from the endzone, former Bills running back Mike Gillislee punched it in to give the Patriots a 23-16 lead.
The Bills were able to again move the ball inside New England territory, but Sean McDermott opted for a field goal instead of attempting a 4th and 1 conversion. Stephen Hauschka proceeded to miss a 50-yard field goal attempt, and the final result was essentially decided.
New England scored two more touchdowns to wrap up the 21-point win, improving Tom Brady’s career record to 28-3 against the Bills.
With the Week 16 results around the league, the Bills playoff scenario is as follows: