ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Josh Allen may have cold feet, but that’s only fitting because the Bills quarterback is a cold-blooded bully.
The 6-foot-6-inch, 237-pound, Paul Bunyanesque field general was scarier than Old Man Winter himself Saturday night, coldcocking the Patriots right out of the playoffs with a 47-17 blowout at frigid Highmark Stadium.
Allen told reporters last week that he suffered from bad circulation in his feet, and that his “toes get really cold and they go numb a little bit.”
He found a cure for what ailed him, and it wasn’t a pair of toasty wool socks. It was a New England defense that had no answers for his particular brand of stone-cold bully ball. And boy did he make them suffer, playing mistake-free football and completing 21 of 25 passes for 308 yards and five touchdowns.
“We couldn’t keep up with him,” said Bill Belichick. “He was great tonight.”
Allen led touchdown drives on Buffalo’s first seven possessions in building leads of 14-0 after one quarter, 27-3 at the half, and 33-10 at the end of three. As for the eighth possession? That was kneel-down time with Mitch Trubisky.
It was the second straight game against the Bills that the Patriots didn’t register a single stop. Punter Matt Haack was kept in mothballs all night.
“Embarrassing,” said veteran safety Devin McCourty. “You practice all week, you shouldn’t really perform like that … That’s not how you want to end any season or any playoff game. Credit to them.”
Allen’s performance warmed the hearts of the bundled-up Mafia, 69,188 strong, and they loudly let him know how much they adored him with spontaneous chants of “M-V-P.”
It was a familiar script that haunted the Patriots. Allen riddled the defense right out of the gates, accounting for all but 5 yards on a nine-play, 70-yard march.
Allen had all kinds of time to pass, and when he couldn’t find anyone, he showed his circulation was just fine, gaining 41 yards on two rushes.
He capped the drive by escaping a Kyle Van Noy tackle near the sideline and lobbing a pass to the back of the end zone he said was a throw-away. Dawson Knox snagged it instead, after sneaking behind Kyle Dugger, for the 7-0 lead.
Mac Jones actually looked a little Allen-like on his first crack with the ball, moving the Patriots to the Bills 34-yard line by converting several big third downs, including with a season-long 16-yard scramble for one.
The good feelings went away quick, however, when Jones was picked off in the end zone by safety Micah Hyde. It was a grand theft by Hyde, who dove in front of Nelson Agholor as the receiver was poised to tie the game.
The Patriots never looked right after the momentum changing pick.
“It was one of many good plays that they made that we didn’t,” said Belichick.
Allen went right back to work, orchestrating an 80-yard drive that started with a 24-yard completion to Knox and ended with the rifle-armed QB hitting him for another TD, this time from 11 yards out.
That the Bills owned a 14-0 lead after one quarter shouldn’t have come as a big surprise. Rather, it was the continuation of a trend.
Since Week 15, Buffalo had the best first-quarter point differential in the league at plus-29. That same period, New England was a league-worst minus-31.
After a Patriots three-and-out, Allen again loomed large, this time directing a masterful 10-play, 81-yard drive that Devin Singletary ended with a 3-yard run right through the heart of an all-ready weary defense. Deatrich Wise Jr. blocked the extra point, Tyler Bass’ first miss of the season, holding the lead at 20-0.
Following another Jake Bailey punt, the relentless Allen was back in his comfort zone: The pocket. He threw back-to-back beauties — a 19-yarder to Isaiah McKenzie, and a 45-yarder sideline snipe to Stefon Diggs.
Singletary polished off the drive with a 16-yard run that featured multiple moves and multiple missed tackles, and resulted in a 27-0 lead that at that point felt like 270-0.
The New England defense was getting blown off the ball by the more physical Bills offensive line, which was creating time and holes. When Patriot defenders did get their hands on Allen and his running mates, they were carried for extra yards before the takedowns.
Jones (24 of 38 for 232 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions) and the offense finally showed signs of life right before the half, and broke the shutout when Nick Folk connected on a 44-yard field goal to make it 27-3. But it was more of the same to start the second half.
Allen’s third touchdown pass was a sizzling 34-yard spiral to Emmanuel Sanders, who beat Joejuan Williams off the line and left the cornerback in his wake. Lawrence Guy blocked Bass’s extra point and it was 33-3.
The Patriots found the end zone on the ensuing possession when Jones hit Kendrick Bourne from 3 yards out at the end of an 11-play, 75-yard drive. The two would connect again inside the 2-minute warning, a 4-yard hookup on another fourth and goal to cap the scoring.
Between them, Allen threw two more touchdown passes to bring the Mafia to their collective feet. First, a 19-yarder to Gabriel Davis, then a 1-yarder to lumbering tackle eligible Tommy Doyle.
Jones said the loss stung, but he knows it will “motivate” him for next season and beyond. The rookie quarterback impressed many during his 10-win campaign, including the team’s senior statesman.
“I think the future is bright for this organization with that young man,” said Matthew Slater. “He’s the type of man you hope to build around. Patriots Nation should be excited about having No. 10 as their quarterback.”
Jones is the future. Allen is the present.
“They do a good job. They’re well-coached,” said Belichick. “They executed well … They deserved to win.”
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