Pats beat Bills 24-12, earn 10th straight AFC East title
FOXBOROUOGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots earned their 10th straight AFC East title with Sony Michel running for 116 yards and a touchdown in a 24-12 victory over the Buffalo Bills 24-12 on Sunday.
With the Eagles win over the Texans, the Patriots are back in the No. 2 spot in the AFC. A Patriots win over the Jets next week would give New England a first-round bye in the playoffs.
New England improved to 7-0 at home this season and became the first franchise in NFL history to earn playoff berths in 10 straight seasons. It also marked the Patriots’ fifth straight win over the Bills and their 26th series sweep of Buffalo.
Brady went 13 of 24 for 126 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions — his lowest output since he passed for 123 yards in a 2003 loss to the Bills.
But with the touchdown he joined Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers with at least 10 seasons of 4,000-plus passing yards. Manning has 14 such seasons, Brees entered the day with 12 and Rivers has 10.
It was Michel’s fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season.
It helped mask Brady’s mild day. The two interceptions were his third time with multiple picks in a game this season. He now has 11 interceptions in 2018, his most since 2013.
Brady’s touchdown pass of the game came thanks to a heads-up play by Julian Edelman in the third quarter .
Leading 14-6 and facing fourth-and-4 on the Bills 32, Brady found Edelman over the middle on a quick slant. Edelman was tackled and rolled up by safety Rafael Bush, but Edelman never touched the ground. He got up and sprinted into the end zone.
Brady’s interceptions were among three turnovers by the Patriots on the day, but Buffalo was only able to turn them into three points. Leading 24-6 in fourth quarter, he was replaced by backup Brian Hoyer.
The Bills got back running back LeSean McCoy after a one-game absence with a left hamstring injury. He had a quiet return, rushing six times for 9 yards.
Rookie quarterback Josh Allen was bottled up for most of the day, limited to 20 of 41 for 217 yards with two interceptions. He ran five times for 30 yards. Buffalo finished with 72 rushing yards, the first time in five games it failed to rush for 100 or more.
After going three plays and out on their first drive of the day, the Patriots went to the run game to score the game’s first touchdown. New England ran six straight times, capped by a 4-yard TD run by Michel. It was Michel’s first touchdown since New England’s Week 12 win over the Jets.
Following a Buffalo punt, the Patriots crossed into Bills’ territory again, but gave the ball back when Rex Burkhead fumbled. But Stephen Hauschka’s 43-yard field goal attempt hit the crossbar.
After both teams exchanged punts, New England pushed its lead to 14-0 in the second quarter via a 27-yard touchdown run by James White .
Buffalo’s first six drives of the game were a regression for an offense that had shown promise in recent games. The Bills went three plays and out three straight times, followed by six plays and the missed field goal; three-and-out; and one play and an interception by Allen.
The Bills returned the favor when Lorenzo Alexander picked off an errant pass by Brady. But Buffalo again failed to convert the turnover into points, turning the ball over on downs when Allen’s deep, fourth-and-3 pass for Robert Foster fell incomplete.
Bills: LB Julian Stanford left in the first quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. … WR Isaiah McKenzie was evaluated for a head injury in the second quarter but returned in the second half. … WR Deonte Thompson left in the third quarter with a toe injury.
Patriots: WR Cordarrelle Patterson left with a knee injury in the third quarter.
Bills: Host Miami next Sunday.
Patriots: Host the Jets.