Josh Allen’s Bills Near Perfect To Break Up Patriots

The Patriots surprised many observers this season by returning to the playoffs behind rookie quarterback Mac Jones, who played on a steep learning curve.

But after a seven-game winning streak, the Patriots were 1-3 and entered the playoffs as a wild-card team for the first time under coach Bill Belichick in New England. Despite giving up the second-fewest points in the NFL, the team’s defensive secondary was understaffed.

On Saturday, in the Bills’ second-coldest home game ever — 7 degrees at kickoff — Jones forced passes under pressure. Receivers dropped catchable balls. Jones was picked twice and fired three times by a Bills defense that gave up the fewest runs in the league during the regular season. When he finally hit receiver Kendrick Bourne for the Patriots’ first touchdown late in the third quarter, cutting their deficit to 33-10, the game was largely over.

Before kickoff, Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas, cornerstones of the Bills’ four consecutive Super Bowl appearances in the early 1990s, were on the court to rile up a crowd that, based on years of experience, feared the worse but hoped for the best. Fittingly, Kelly, a Hall of Fame quarterback, wore a Josh Allen jersey while Thomas wore a Devin Singletary jersey to honor a current Bills running back who, like Allen, showed his versatility on Saturday.

Singletary had 81 rushing yards, two second quarter scores and three catches for 13 yards. His mastery of catching and running forced the Patriots to keep him under surveillance, helping wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders, Isaiah McKenzie and Stefon Diggs break free.

Allen seemed in control throughout, even when he wasn’t. On his first touchdown pass, he evaded defenders before kicking the ball deep into the end zone as it fell out of bounds. Allen was trying to throw the ball, but instead tight end Dawson Knox carried it for an 8-yard score.

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