The New England Patriots didn’t take any pity on the Buffalo Bills over the past two decades when they were beating the snot out of them. Nor should they have.
There were some rough days for the Bills. New England won 35 of 40 over Buffalo before this season, and many of them were not even close. The worst of the blowouts came in 2007, when the Patriots scored and scored and scored in a 56-10 thrashing.
When you looked at the standings, the Bills had little to play for Monday night outside of getting the No. 2 seed in the AFC. They had a division title clinched and couldn’t get a bye as Kansas City secured the No. 1 spot. Yet, there was plenty to play for.
The Bills have taken over the AFC East and they wanted to drive that point home on Monday night. The Bills blasted the Patriots 38-9, finishing a season sweep. Buffalo couldn’t drastically change its playoff positioning, but clearly it wanted to make a point.
A lot of frustration was taken out on the Patriots and Bill Belichick. About 20 years’ worth.
Bills obliterate the Patriots
The Bills scored three times in the second quarter. Zach Moss got in on a run, blocking tight end Lee Smith caught a touchdown pass and then Stefon Diggs got behind the defense and ran 50 yards for another score. It was clear that the Bills were the better team early on and the Patriots couldn’t keep up.
New England ran the ball well, and Cam Newton had a great touchdown run in the second quarter, but Newton had just 34 yards passing at the half. The Bills led 24-9. The Patriots weren’t going to come back. The Bills weren’t going to let up.
The Patriots were getting blown out 31-9 in the third quarter when they benched Newton and brought in Jarrett Stidham. Usually this century, when the Patriots made a quarterback change against the Bills it’s because they were up by four touchdowns and wanted to get Tom Brady some rest.
The Bills kept going after that. Allen kept throwing. Diggs caught his third touchdown in the fourth quarter. Then the Bills pulled Allen, who had 320 yards and four touchdowns, with about 12 minutes left and let Matt Barkley finish it out. That had to feel good. They’ll also probably get some laughs when they see the highlight of a frustrated Belichick throwing the sideline phone after a bad challenge. The Patriots are guaranteed their first losing season since 2000, when Brady was a relatively unknown rookie deep on the bench.
After being crushed by Belichick and the Patriots for a long time, sometimes in embarrassing fashion, it seemed like the Bills took some extra delight in rubbing it in.
A new king of the AFC East
Things change fast in the NFL. The Bills aren’t guaranteed to win the AFC East again next season. Maybe the Miami Dolphins take a leap. Perhaps the Patriots bounce back in a big way. One of the reasons the Patriots’ streak of division titles was so impressive was that the NFL isn’t set up for continued success by any team.
However, the Bills look like a team that could make things difficult on the Patriots for a while. Allen had his first big game against a Belichick defense. He has had a true breakout season. Buffalo has drafted well and is smart in free agency. It took a long, long time, but someone in the AFC East other than the Patriots seemingly has it figured out. And the Bills did it at the exact moment the Patriots finally fell apart. New England has multiple things to fix in the offseason.
Buffalo’s talent has been coming together for a couple years. The Bills needed to get over a mental hurdle by beating the Patriots. That had to happen for them to take the AFC East title away from New England.
They accomplished that. And then some.
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