Final score, recap, highlights: Buffalo Bills 33, New England Patriots 21 (2022)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - As Sean McDermott nears the end of his fifth season as head coach of the Buffalo Bills, he is about to lead his team into the biggest regular-season game it has played during his tenure.

Sunday afternoon, the Bills will be at Gillette Stadium to play the arch-rival New England Patriots in a game that will, in all likelihood, decide the AFC East title.

A Bills victory would draw them even with the Patriots at 9-6, and it would mean that if Buffalo could win its last two games, both at home against the Falcons and Jets, the Bills would win the division for the second year in a row.

That’s because winning their last two would mean they’d finish with a 5-1 record in AFC East games. Even if New England were to win its last two vs. Jacksonville and at Miami, the Patriots would be 4-2 in AFC East games, a tiebreaker they lose to Buffalo.

So yes, monumental would be the appropriate word today, really, for both teams. If the Patriots win, they could actually clinch the division if the Dolphins lose to the Saints on Monday night.

I’ll be at Gillette Stadium providing updates throughout the day so keep this page bookmarked.

Final: Buffalo Bills 33, New England Patriots 21

Buffalo safety Micah Hyde intercepted Mac Jones for the second time today, this time at the Bills' 3-yard line with 1:03 left. Josh Allen took two kneel downs and Buffalo left Gillette Stadium with a 33-21 win and control of the AFC East.

The Bills have scored 30 or more points nine times this season. Allen finished 30 of 47 for 314 yards and three touchdowns and led the team in rushing with 64 yards on 12 carries.Isaiah McKenzie had 11 catches for 125 yards and a touchdown.

Mac Jones struggled, going 14 of 32 for 145 yards and two interceptions.

Instant analysis:Bills defeat arch-nemesis Patriots 33-21 to take control of AFC East

Buffalo offense responds with long TD drive - Bills 33, Patriots 21

Buffalo drove 75 yards and chewed more than five minutes off the clock to go back up two scores. Buffalo converted two third downs and a fourth down to keep the chains moving. Josh Allen capped off the drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Dawson Knox with 2:30 left in the fourth quarter.

Damien Harris scores third touchdown of game - 7:35 4th quarter

New England marched down the field for a touchdown drive to stay in the game. The Patriots crossed midfield on a 13-yard pass from Mac Jones to Kendrick Bourne and then Jones found Jakobi Meyers for 21 yards. Jones scrambled 10 yards to the Bills' 14 and two plays later Harris bulled in for his third touchdown of the game.

Devin Singletary scores to push Bills' lead to 26-14 - 11:42 4th quarter

Isaiah McKenzie has been huge in the absence of Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis. McKenzie made a 5-yard catch on third-and-2 and then caught a pass for 28 yards on the first play of the fourth quarter. Josh Allen scrambled 11 yards to get into the red zone and completed to Dawson Knox for 9 yards to set up first-and-goal at the Patriots' 4. Devin Singletary powered in for the touchdown. Buffalo's two-point attempt was incomplete.

Patriots cash in another long touchdown drive - Bills 20, Patriots 14

It feels like the Bills have been in control of the game all day, but they really aren’t, especially now that the Patriots have cut the lead to 20-14.

After the Bills had to settle for a field goal, New England turned around chewed up 7:21 in driving 75 yards in 15 plays to Damien Harris’ one-yard TD run.

Harris got it started when he broke a 31-yard run on the first play, and then the Patriots converted on a third-and-8 and later on a pair of fourth-down plays to keep the drive going. They are now 4-for-4 on third downs.

And right now, Josh Allen has to respond, or you get the sense the game might be turning.

Bills extend lead, should have had more

The Bills opened the second half with a lengthy drive to Tayler Bass’ 34-yard field goal to raise their lead to 20-7, but it sure felt like a letdown as the Bills had two touchdowns taken away by their own poor play.

On the first, Josh Allen overthrew wide open Jake Kumerow for an easy touchdown, and then his TD pass to Zack Moss was wiped out by an illegal man downfield penalty on Daryl Williams. Not good.

The Bills chewed off the first 5:58 of the third quarter and they have driven into the red zone on every possession in the game except the one at the end of the half when they ran out the clock. However, they have scored only two touchdowns.

Buffalo defense forces punt before half

Mac Jones threw two incomplete passes but defensive end Efe Obada was flagged for roughing the passer on third down. New England offensive tackle Trent Brown was called for unsportsmanlike conduct on the next play and Jones had two straight incompletions to force a Patriots' punt on fourth-and-18. Buffalo played it conservative to end the half.

Josh Allen has completed 16 of 25 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Mac Jones is 5 of 13 for 47 yards and an interception.

Josh Allen finds Stefon Diggs for TD that makes it 17-7

It feels like the Bills have spent half the game in the red zone, and this time it resulted in a much-needed touchdown as Josh Allen fired a 12-yard laser over the middle to Stefon Diggs.

Sean McDermott has made it very clear he’s not holding back on anything. The Bills have now gone for it on fourth down three times and they converted twice, the first one resulting in Isaiah McKenzie’s touchdown.

The second came on this possession, a fourth-and-2 where Allen found Diggs for a 23-yard gain to the Patriots 11 to set up the touchdown. That was all part of the Micah Hyde interception sequence where the Bills failed to score in the red zone, but the defense held and forced a punt from the end zone.

Bills denied on fourth-and-goal - 4:44 2nd quarter

Buffalo had great field position but couldn't get any points off the turnover. Josh Allen started the drive with a 13-yard completion toZack Moss. Allen's 10-yard pass to Stefon Diggs set up first-and-goal from the 7. Moss ran for 6 yards on first down, Allen threw the ball away on second down and bought time with his feet and threw incomplete for Dawson Knox in the end zone on fourth down. Buffalo went for it on fourth down. Allen was flushed from the pocket again and gave Emmanuel Sanders a chance in the end zone but the wide receiver couldn't make the grab.

Micah Hyde picks off Mac Jones - 7:57 1st quarter

Mac Jones was intercepted by safety Micah Hyde off a tipped ball. Jones tried to go deep over the middle toN'Keal Harry. Hyde returned the interception 22 yards to the Patriots' 33-yard line.

Tyler Bass makes 25-yard field goal - Bills 10, Patriots 7

Buffalo had now scored on each of its first two possessions, but this time, they failed to take advantage of a red zone penetration and had to settle for a 25-yard Tyler Bass field goal and a 10-7 lead. Worse, though, is the ruptured Achilles’ that left guard Ike Boettger suffered which ends his season.

The Bills’ offensive line is already a mess and this only makes it worse. Dion Dawkins, who was not playing even though he was active, had to come in to play left tackle, which moved Spencer Brown to right tackle. Daryl Williams shifted in to right guard, and Ryan Bates moved over to left guard. Did you get all that? Right now, the Bills have serious depth problems on the line. All they have left in reserve as Tommy Doyle and Bobby Hart, and neither of those options are good.

Bills' Ike Boettger carted off field - 9:46 2nd quarter

Buffalo guardIke Boettger tore his Achilles on a non-contact injury. He is out for the game and for the season.

Patriots answer with an impressive TD drive, tie game at 7-7

Well, the Bills defense got off to a nice start with a three-and-out. Their second series? Yeah, not quite as good.

New England answered Buffalo’s opening touchdown with one of its own as Mac Jones directed an even better drive than Josh Allen, a 13-play, 75-yard drive that ate up 7:09 and ended with two Damien Harris runs that totaled 28 yards.

The first converted a fourth-and-1 at the 28, the second went for 16 yards and a touchdown. Both were outside pitch plays in which the Bills looked completely confused.

Bills gamble pays off with a touchdown for 7-0 lead

Give Sean McDermott credit for that gutsy decision to go for it on fourth-and-2 at the 3-yard-line because my initial thought was he was crazy. I would have taken the three this early in the game, but McDermott went for it and Josh Allen showed great patience before finding Isaiah McKenzie in the back of the end zone for the touchdown.

The Bills defense came up with a dominant three-and-out to start the game, the offense took over at the 39 and Allen used 13 plays and 6:57 off the clock to give Buffalo a 7-0 lead.

Bills sack Mac Jones, force three-and-out to start game - 13:35 1st quarter

New England got the ball first and went backward, Damien Harris ran for no gain, Mac Jones was pressured and threw incomplete and then Jones was dropped by Ed Oliver for a 6-yard loss. Jake Bailey punted 46 yards andMarquez Stevenson returned it 4 yards to the Bills' 39-yard line.

Big day for Bills defense to make a statement

Safety Jordan Poyer was saying the other day that the Buffalo defense hasn’t been given enough credit for what it has accomplished this season.

“Yeah, it’ll probably never change, but I mean we use it as fuel,” Poyer said. “I know that’s cliche, but at the same time we understand the lack of respect. I think if you go online right now, I think we’re still the No. 1 or No. 2 defense in the league in a lot of categories. The rushing average isn’t probably up there but at the same time the takeaways, pass yards per game, and total yards per game. And still people don’t want to give us a respect so that’s fine.”

It’s true. The Bills are No. 1 in yards allowed and passing yards allowed, tied for second in points allowed, and tied for third in takeaways. However, there’s a reason why the Bills defense isn’t getting the respect Poyer believes it should. Poor competition.

Look at the offenses that Buffalo’s defense has beaten up on in its victories: Miami (twice) is 21st in points, Washington is 23rd, Houston is 31st, the Jets are 27th, New Orleans is 17th, and Carolina is 25th. The only team with an above-average offense the Bills have beaten is Kansas City which ranks sixth.

In the losses, on the days when the defense needed to rise up, it collapsed in the second half of the loss to Pittsburgh, and the same thing happened against Tennessee. The Colts and Patriots ran all over the Bills and combined for 486 rushing yards, and Tom Brady and the Bucs put up 33 points and 488 yards. The only loss where the defense played well was in Jacksonville which is the worst offensive team in the league.

So Poyer can talk about lack of respect and using it as motivation all he wants, but the time has come to put forth a great defensive showing against a worthy opponent, and win a game that figures to be low scoring.

Dion Dawkins active for Bills-Patriots

The inactive list just came out and the Bills received good news as offensive tackle Dion Dawkins is active for the game. That doesn’t mean he’ll play - remember, Jon Feliciano was active a couple weeks ago and did not play on offense.

However, Feliciano was battling a calf injury, not COVID, so the likelihood is that Dawkins will be back at left tackle which helps solidify the offensive line. Now, Spencer Brown can go back to right tackle and Daryl Williams can play right guard. Feliciano remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

As for the inactives, there are only three. Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, running back Matt Breida and tight end Tomm Sweeney.

Lotulelei is not playing due to a personal matter which forced him to miss practice all week, continuing a season during which he just hasn’t been very available to the team.

Breida has done very little with the recent playing time he had been getting so he’s out and Zack Moss is back in the lineup. Sweeney is also a healthy scratch meaning the only tight end active is Dawson Knox, unless you count hybrid fullback Reggie Gilliam.

With Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis out due to COVID, the Bills called up second-year man Isaiah Hodgins from their practice squad and he is active along with Jake Kumerow and Marquez Stevenson as the bottom three on the depth chart behind Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders and Isaiah McKenzie.

Weather will not be a factor

Final score, recap, highlights: Buffalo Bills 33, New England Patriots 21 (2)

The good news for the Bills’ pass-dependent offense is that the weather at Gillette Stadium should not be a factor Sunday afternoon.

Unlike the game three weeks ago at Highmark Stadium when the fierce wind wreaked havoc on the first Bills-Patriots showdown, the forecast in Foxborough calls for very little chance of precipitation, the temperature topping out at about 40 degrees with a breeze that might fluctuate between 10 and 15 miles per hour. However, inside the stadium, that type of wind really doesn’t play much of a role.

As I look out at the field at 11 a.m. the flags atop the goal posts are hardly moving and the sky is overcast with even a few breaks of blue.

That is welcomed news for the Bills who struggle to establish the run game and need Josh Allen to be able to throw to all areas of the field.

How to watch, listen to Buffalo Bills vs New England Patriots game

When: 1 p.m. Sunday

Where: Gillette Stadium

TV: CBS (Ian Eagle, Charles Davis, Evan Washburn)

Satellite radio: Sirius 133, XM 382

Radio: 96.5 FM/950 AM

Series: Patriots lead 77-45-1 counting playoffs

Tipico betting line: Bills +2.5

Talking points

Final score, recap, highlights: Buffalo Bills 33, New England Patriots 21 (3)

► Patriots coach Bill Belichick on the development of Josh Allen: “I think we talked about this the last time about how much he’s improved. That’s borne out in the numbers and watching him play as well. Percentage of completions, production, and so forth. He’s really hard to stop. He does a good job at everything. He’s continued to grow as a player and I think you see his leadership, his toughness, his physical ability, all that, on a very consistent basis. He’s the guy that makes them go and he’s become one of the top quarterbacks in the league.”

► Patriots QB Mac Jones on putting the Colts loss behind him: “I think you just have to keep moving forward and understand what we’re about to face in a really good football team. It comes down to controlling what you can control and that’s your attitude and your effort. We’re trying to do that every day and, eventually, we’ll stack days together and we’ll get a chance to play, like I said, against a really good team who have a lot of talented players, but they’re also really well-coached.”

► Patriots FS Devin McCourty on the rivalry with the Bills: “It’s going to be a battle and I think they were the top dogs last year, we had a heated game (a few weeks ago). I truly believe in my 12 years in the league when you play a divisional opponent, they don’t like you, they want to win. I don’t care if their season is going to be over next week and they’re not gonna make the playoffs or they’re the number one seed in the AFC. It doesn’t matter, you don’t want to lose to your division opponents. I think it’s no different in this game.”

NFL rankings

Bills Patriots

Total offense: 377.9 yards (7th); 347.9 (16th)

Rush offense: 120.9 yards (13th); 120.5 (14th)

Pass offense: 257.0 (7th); 227.4 (17th)

Points scored: 28.1 (5th); 26.2 (10th)

Total defense: 287.9 yards (1st); 307.5 (3rd)

Rush defense: 112.4 yards (16th); 122.4 (24th)

Pass defense: 175.6 yards (1st); 185.1 (3rd)

Points allowed: 17.4 (T2nd); 21.2 (1st)

Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots individual leaders

Rushing

Bills: Devin Singletary 134 carries, 633 yards; Josh Allen 88-555; Zack Moss 83-286; Matt Breida 26-125; Emmanuel Sanders 2-31; Mitchell Trubisky 10-27; Isaiah McKenzie 6-35.

Patriots: Damien Harris 164-754; Rhamondre Stevenson 110-465; Brandon Bolden 34-172; Kendrick Bourne 9-100; Mac Jones 33-80.

Passing

Bills: Josh Allen 344 of 528, 3,734 yards, 31 TDs,12 interceptions.

Patriots: Mac Jones 296 of 429, 3,168 yards, 18 TDs, 10 interceptions.

Receiving

Bills: Stefon Diggs 82 catches, 1,007 yards; Cole Beasley 76-640; Dawson Knox 44-527; Emmanuel Sanders 40-606; Devin Singletary 33-165; Gabriel Davis 29-470; Zack Moss 20-178; Tommy Sweeney 9-44; Matt Breida 7-72; Isaiah McKenzie 7-38.

Patriots: Jakobi Meyers 65-664; Kendrick Bourne 45-667; Hunter Henry 41-471; Nelson Agholor 36-450; Brandon Bolden 35-344; Jonnu Smith 27-274; Damien Harris 13-84; Rhamondre Stevenson 13-121; James White 12-94; N’Keal Harry 10-169.

2021 Buffalo Bills schedule

9/12 vs. Steelers, L 16-23

9/19 at Dolphins, W 35-0

9/26 vs. Washington, W 43-21

10/3 vs. Texans, W 40-0

10/10 at Chiefs, W 38-20

10/18 at Titans, L 31-34

10/24 Bye week

10/31 vs. Dolphins, W 26-11

11/7 at Jaguars, L 6-9

11/14 at Jets, W 45-17

11/21 vs. Colts, L 15-41

11/25 at Saints, W 31-6

12/6 vs. Patriots, L 10-14

12/12 at Buccaneers, L 27-33 OT

12/19 vs. Panthers, W 31-14

12/26 at Patriots, 1 p.m.

1/2 vs. Falcons, 1 p.m.

1/9 vs. Jets, 1 p.m.

Sal Maiorana can be reached at maiorana@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @salmaiorana.

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