FOXBORO, Mass. (WROC) — The Bills offense woke up in the fourth quarter, scoring two touchdowns to take a 25-22 lead. However, it was all for naught as the Patriots responded with a score of their own to take down the Bills 29-25.
Josh Allen threw a touchdown to Stefon Diggs to start the rally and the offense got the ball right back when Jordan Poyer forced a fumble.
The Bills converted for another touchdown, this coming on a QB sneak by Allen to take the lead 25-22 with 1:58 remaining.
However, Mac Jones led the Patriots on a two-minute drive, needing just eight plays to go 75 yards, capping off the drive with a touchdown to Mike Gesicki to take the lead for good.
Josh Allen finished with 27 completions on 41 attempts for 365 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.
“We talk about being more detailed, getting into a rhythm early, playing complementary football, and all three phases working together,” said head coach Sean McDermott of the hole the team fell into. “We haven’t been able to get into a good rhythm in the first quarter, let’s just start there.
For the third straight week, the Bills started ice-cold. Trailing 3-0 after a New England first-drive field goal, Allen threw an interception on his very first throw. Allen was looking for Dawson Knox down the field and did not see Jabrill Peppers lurking in coverage, who made the snag.
“I wish I knew the exact answer because we would have it fixed by now,” said Allen on the team’s slow starts. “We’re going to watch this film and find a way to get there, whatever it is. It feels pretty bleak right now but we’re going to figure it out.”
The Bills were shut out by the Giants in the first three quarters last week, and scored just one touchdown prior to the fourth against the Jaguars.
The Patriots took advantage, controlling the line of scrimmage and capping off a 45-yard drive with a two-yard Ezekiel Elliot touchdown run to make it 10-0.
The Bills appeared to answer with a touchdown on the ensuing drive, as Knox was wide-open in the end zone for a score. However, he was open because Latavius Murray bulldozed a Patriot defender and was called for offensive pass interference. The Bills settled for a field goal and trailed 10-3.
Both teams traded field goal attempts on their next two drives, but the Patriots made theirs and Tyler Bass missed a 42-yard field goal attempt. It was Bass’ third in the past two games. The Patriots entered halftime up 13-3.
The Bills got the ball to start the second half and finally found their groove. Aided by a questionable roughing the passer penalty after Allen sold a hit for a call, the Bills found the end zone. Allen hit James Cook in the flat on third-and-goal at the eight-yard line who maneuvered his way in for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 13-10.
New England answered with a field goal on a 9-play, 44-yard drive. 20 of those yards came on an end around from Demario Douglas who blew past a Dane Jackson would-be tackle in the open field.
The Bills had ample opportunities to take the lead on the next drive. On the first play of the drive, Allen had Diggs open deep down the field for a touchdown, but Allen’s pass sailed over Diggs’ head. The Bills worked into New England territory, but on fourth-and-two, Knox dropped a would-be first down.
“It’s something that we all have to come together and band together,” said wide receiver Trent Sherfield. “Not necessarily changing everything but finding those details and finding those things that you watch the film and you figure out what needs to change.”
The Patriots scored another touchdown on the next drive to take a 22-10 lead. Mac Jones connected with Kendrick Bourne for a four-yard touchdown, but Jones failed on a QB sneak on the two-point conversion.
The Bills’ offense finally found life and urgency on the next drive in the hurry-up offense. The efficient drive was capped off by a 25-yard touchdown from Allen to Diggs where Diggs made a sliding catch near the goal line, got up, and broke a tackle to get into the end zone. That made the score 22-17 New England.
The Bills needed a stop and Jordan Poyer provided the defensive play of the game as he punched out the football from Bourne, which was recovered by Terrel Bernard. That set the Bills up at New England’s 29-yard line.
Faced with fourth-and-two at the New England eight, Allen connected with Dalton Kincaid for a key conversion to keep the drive alive. On third-and-goal, Allen snuck the ball over the goal line to take the lead. The two-point conversion was good for a 25-22 lead.
However, New England answered with an impressive drive of their own. After getting the ball with 1:58 remaining, the Patriots needed just eight plays to go 75 yards for the game-winning touchdown. The drive started with a 34-yard catch and run by Rhamonre Stevenson on a screen pass. That got the Patriots to the Bills’ 41-yard line. The Pats completed multiple short to intermediate passes to get to the goal line. On second-and-goal from the one, Jones connected with Gesicki for a touchdown to put the Patriots up 29-25.
“We’re not going to freak out. We’re a great team. We’ve just got to clean some stuff up,” said defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. “We’ve got to stick with our process. Our process is working, both sides of the ball.”
The Bills had one timeout to go the length of the field in 12 seconds. The Bills nearly got a big play that they needed as Allen launched a pass to Diggs, but he could not haul in the catch at the Patriots’ 30-yard line.
“No panic,” said safety Micah Hyde. “None of that. It’s a week-to-week league. Good thing we have the Thursday night game coming up. Short week, we’ll be able to flush this, learn from it, and have another game coming up.”
“Every team at some point, you need a reality check,” said edge rusher Von Miller. “They’re always good. You’re able to look in the mirror and see what you do well, see what you don’t do well. You just keep going. Like a good punch in the chin, punch in the mouth, it’s always good for great competitors like we have.”
The Bills fall to 4-3 with the loss and will take on Tampa Bay at home on Thursday night.