In many Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots games this century, the outcome wasn't in doubt even before the game even kicked off. The game would start and it was obvious right away the Bills didn't have the talent or coaching to even make it competitive.
The Patriots dominated and embarrassed the Bills for a long time during the Tom Brady era in New England. Brady's Patriots went 32-3 against Buffalo. Brady is gone and the Bills are paying the Patriots back now.
Not that there was much question after last season, when the Bills beat the Patriots 47-17 in a playoff game, but Buffalo is on a much different level than the Patriots. The Bills won their fifth game in the last six meetings against the Patriots, including playoffs. The Bills were far superior to the Patriots and it was obvious fairly early on in the 24-10 win. It's the first time Buffalo has won three in a row at New England since 1992-94.
The Patriots owned the AFC East for most of a two-decade stretch. New England is in last place of the AFC East and Buffalo, the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets all arguably have a brighter future with young cores of blue-chip players. New England looked a long way from competing with Buffalo for AFC East titles over at least the next few years, mostly because the Bills have Josh Allen and the Patriots can't match that.
Bills take control early
The Bills' first drive ended in a field goal and then their next two drives resulted in touchdowns. Late in the second quarter, the Bills punted, which was actually noteworthy. The Bills didn't punt in either of the last two games against the Patriots and hadn't for the first 27 minutes on Thursday night.
The Patriots started well. They got creative and used rookie cornerback and returner Marcus Jones on offense, and he outran the Bills defense after a short catch for a 48-yard touchdown and a 7-3 lead. But as the game went on, it was clear the Bills were simply the better team.
Allen's second touchdown was marvelous. He rolled to his right, thinking he could perhaps get to the edge and maybe run. When linebacker Mack Wilson thought he had a sack, Allen shrugged him off, then somehow found Gabriel Davis in the end zone for a touchdown pass. Not many quarterbacks are capable of that kind of play.
Allen has also been prone to turnovers this season. Late in the first half he was hit and fumbled. The Patriots recovered in Buffalo territory. It was a chance for the Patriots to get back in the game before halftime. But the drive stalled and the field-goal attempt hit the crossbar.
The Bills led 17-7 and the talent disparity was obvious. The only way the Patriots were going to get back in the game is if the Bills allowed them back in it.
Bills put it away in the 4th
The score didn't reflect how much the Bills dominated through three quarters. They had a 31:14 to 14:46 edge in time of possession, 20 first downs to New England's eight and had out-gained the Patriots 324 to 164. But after a scoreless third quarter, the Patriots still had a chance.
The Bills delivered the knockout punch early in the fourth. They finished a drive in the first minute of the fourth quarter with Devin Singletary plunging up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown run at a 24-7 lead. Given how the Patriots offense had looked, other than Jones' long touchdown, a 17-point lead was safe.
Patriots quarterback Mac Jones was a first-round pick, had a good rookie season and is struggling to recapture that this season. Not all development for an NFL player is linear. There will be some bumps along the way for most. The Patriots have a coach in Bill Belichick who can still get the absolute most out of his talent on hand, but Jones can't match Allen and the rest of the roster is clearly in Buffalo's favor. The Patriots have one of the NFL's oldest rosters, too.
It doesn't take much to turn things around in the NFL. For the Dolphins, it was mostly just a trade for Tyreek Hill and a good hire at head coach. For the Jets, they hit on several draft picks the past few years. The Patriots can turn it around fast, too. But the Bills are miles ahead at the moment. That's nothing new for the rivalry. The Bills and Patriots have just switched who's on top.