Foxborough, MA — Coming into their week 16 game, the Buffalo Bills were feeling great after their big 10-31 win last week. They knew they would have to put an effort just as good if not better, if they were to take down the best team in the AFC. The New England Patriots have not lost at home since week 7 and are on a four game win streak, so getting a win against the Patriots wasn’t going to be an easy task.
The Patriots started the game by getting the ball first. But, because of the Bills strong defensive play, the Patriots went three and out. Following a 50 yard punt by Patriots punter Ryan Allen, the Bills started their first drive of the game on their own 3 yard line. The first play by the Bills gave them just two yards, but on the very next play half back LeSean McCoy broke free for a 49 yard run, his longest of the game, to set up the Bills in Patriots territory. The Bills were only able to get 11 more yards following that play and seven plays later, Bills kicker Steven Hauschka kicked a 51 yard field goal to give his team a 3-0 lead with just over two minutes left in the opening quarter.
Following the field goal the Bills kicked the ball off and was caught by Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Cook caught the ball on the 5 yard line, ran up towards the right side of the field, and somehow went untouched as he passed three defenders, from there Cooks was off to the races and into the end zone for a 95 yard kickoff return. But, instead of a 3-7 lead the Patriots were up just 3 points due to a missed extra point by their kicker Stephen Gostkowski. The score remained the same thought the first quarter, as both team’s defenses made big plays throughout.
The second quarter began with the Patriots facing a 3rd down and 20 on their own 27 yard line. Patriots quarterback Brian Hoyer ran a play action play, ran out of the pocket towards the right and threw the ball while he was under heavy pressure. The ball was intercepted by left outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander at the 34 yard line. Alexander tried to make a big play by running up the field and as he was heading towards the red zone Hoyer laid a perfect hit on him, causing a fumble that, unbelievably, was recovered by the Patriots. It was a huge missed opportunity for the Bills and one they wished they would of kept, because nine plays later the Patriots were able to get three points to take a 3-9 lead.
With just under four minutes left in the half the Bills knew they had to responded with a score of their own. The Bills did just that as they made smart play after smart play, picking up four first downs on the drive. None bigger than the 1st down the Bills picked up on a 4th and inches play to keep the Patriots offense off the field and four plays later the Bills got another 3 points to cut the deficit to just three heading into halftime.
It was a smart decision to go for three to end the half as the Bills would get the ball to begin the 3rd quarter. The Bills didn’t waste their first possession of the second half, as they made play after play and on ninth play of the drive McCoy rushed in for a Bills touchdown, his 9th touchdown of the season to give the Bills a six point lead and just as the Patriots did following their touchdown, the Bills extra point attempt was no good. The miss kept the Patriots within a field goal.
Trailing 12-9 the Patriots managed to get into the red zone, on just 5 plays, down to the 16 yard line just as time expired on the 3rd quarter. The 4th quarter began with the Patriots passing on a 3rd and nine, hopping to get a touchdown or minimum a field goal to tie it. Unfortunately for them, Hoyer was sacked by defensive tackle Marcell Dareus for a seven yard loss. The loss forced the Patriots to settle for a field goal. However, just as he had earlier in the game Gostkowski missed an important kick as it sailed wide right.
The Bills took over on the Patriots 30 yard line. This time however, the Bills weren’t able to advance the ball and worse on 3rd and 7 Tyrod Taylor was hit as he tried to escape the pocket and fumbled the ball, which was then recovered by the Patriots. With such a short field to work with the Bills defense had to step up and at worse allow only a field goal. They did just that as the Patriots were unable to convert on a 3rd and goal play. This time Gostkowsky did make the field goal to tie it all up 12-12 with 4:27 left in the game.
Up until this point Taylor had played a solid game, not forcing passes and the one fumble he had was an unfortunate play that could of happen to anyone under pressure. With that said, Taylor made a huge mistake on the 4th play of the drive as he threw into a double coverage that was picked off by free safety Devin McCourty. McCourty had nothing but a clear path as he headed toward the end zone for a touchdown. The Patriots defense once again came through in the clutch to give their team the lead. But, the opposite could be said for their kicker Gostkowski, as he missed the extra point for a second time in the game, his tenth missed extra point of the season. So instead of a 7 point lead with 3:12 remaining the Bills now stared at a 6 point deficit.
“Let’s go we go this. It’s do or die now fellas! We win this we stay alive.” said McCoy to his offense as they came out to the field. The Bills did in fact need to win this to keep their playoff lives alive, as the Tennessee Titans had won earlier in the day. The Bills began their most important drive of the season with a run, for a gain of 4 yards. Then on the 21st carry of the game, McCoy gave the Bills fans a scared as he fumbled the ball, lucky for him his teammate Cordy Glenn managed to fall on the ball for the Bills to maintain possession. The Bills made sure to not make any mistakes the rest of the way. With the clock at sixteen seconds, the Bills managed to get the ball down to the Patriots 16 yard line. Then on the 9th play of the drive, Taylor out of the shot gun dropped back and threw a perfectly timed ball to wide receiver Andre Holmes for the game tying touchdown. Now all that was left to get the win was the extra point and with the wind blowing at 10 MPH that was no easy task. Hauschka lined up for the kick, the snap was good, the kick went up and through to give the Bills a one point lead with 11 seconds left.
The Patriots got the ball one more time but with seven seconds left, a long completion didn’t help them on this day. The Bills got the rare win in Foxborough to keep their playoff hopes alive, while the Patriots got the rare home loss to keep the race for home field advantage interesting as the loss puts them into a tie with the 12-3 Oakland Raiders.
Did you know:
- The last time the Bills beat the Patriots at home was in week 4 of Season 8.
- This is the third straight season these two clubs have split their season series.