Instant analysis: Big plays fuel Bills victory vs. Patriots

The Buffalo Bills completed an emotional week with a 35-23 victory over the New England Patriots. The victory gives Buffalo the No. 2 spot in the AFC playoff standings.

Buffalo electrified the crowd with multiple big plays that culminated with touchdowns. Nyheim Hines sent Highmark Stadium into a frenzy by taking the opening kickoff for a 96-yard touchdown. He repeated the feat in the third quarter, returning the kick 101 yards to the house.

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Josh Allen threw three touchdowns on the afternoon. His first was a four-yard touchdown pass to Dawson Knox. Allen took the top off the New England defense on the next two touchdowns. First, Allen hooked up with John Brown on a 42-yard diving reception. Allen culminated Buffalo’s scoring with a 49-yard bomb to Stefon Diggs.

Buffalo’s defense joined in the big-play theme by forcing three timely turnovers. Tre’Davious White and Matt Milano recorded interceptions near the Bills goalline, while Tremaine Edmunds reeled in a tipped pass in the fourth quarter.

Stefon Diggs led the way for the Bills receiving corps, catching a game-high seven passes for 104 yards and the aforementioned touchdown. Diggs was involved in the game plan early, as Allen’s first two passes were directed at the wideout. Diggs did well against New England in man coverage, and then smoked the Patriots secondary on the deep touchdown pass.

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Buffalo primarily worked through the air on offense. However, in the few moments when they leaned on their run game, the ground attack moved the ball adequately. James Cook rushed nine times for 50 yards, while Devin Singletary carried seven times for 29 yards. In particular, the Bills leaned on the run game late in the second quarter as they moved the ball into scoring territory ahead of halftime.

Buffalo’s defense had some challenges at times with New England’s offensive attack. All three of the Patriots’ touchdown drives were long, sustained drives. Mac Jones completed all 17 passes on the three New England touchdown drives.

New England utilized play action often early to help freeze the Bills linebackers and to set up the run game.  At times, it worked well for New England, as Jones was able to buy time with the fakes. The Patriots run game found space at times, with Rhamonde Stevenson rushing nine times for 54 yards and Damien Harris running 13 times for 48 yards.

When it counted the most, Buffalo’s defense made the big play to end any New England threats. In addition to the three interceptions, Buffalo recorded two sacks, three tackles for loss, and seven passes defensed.

Buffalo’s coaching staff did a masterful job getting the Bills ready for this game. Sean McDermott and company kept the Bills focused throughout the game. Buffalo responded to the events of Monday night in a magnificent way.

Buffalo will host Miami in the Wild Card round of the playoffs next weekend. Check back with The Bills Wire as the staff analyzes the postseason prospects for the Bills.

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Story originally appeared on Bills Wire