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Just how bad was the Patriots’ loss to the Bills? Here’s where it ranks in the history books.

Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (center) passed for 232 yards in Saturday's loss.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

BUFFALO — Just how bad was the Patriots’ wild-card round loss to the Bills here on Saturday? It was the second-worst loss of the Bill Belichick era.

The worst was just barely worse — a September 2003 season-opening shutout (31-0) by the Bills was the first game on the road to former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s second Super Bowl win.

The third-worst was also against the Bills, a 38-9 loss that came near the end of quarterback Cam Newton’s brief tenure in New England in 2020.

Here’s the full list:

Worst losses of the Bill Belichick era Saturday's wild-card loss to the Bills was the second-worst loss of the Bill Belichick era, surpassed only by a 31-point beatdown at the hands of, once again, the Bills in 2003.
Date Opponent Result Losing margin
9/7/2003 Bills 31-0 -31
1/15/2022 Bills 47-17 -30
12/28/2020 Bills 38-9 -29
9/29/2014 Chiefs 41-14 -27
10/25/2020 49ers 33-6 -27
11/23/2000 Lions 34-9 -25
9/21/2008 Dolphins 38-13 -25
10/2/2005 Chargers 41-17 -24
11/11/2018 Titans 34-10 -24
11/30/2008 Steelers 33-10 -23
SOURCE: Pro Football Reference

While it appeared at times the Patriots might have the worst losing playoff margin in team history, they ended up avoiding that fate with a late touchdown. The worst playoff loss came in 1964, when the Boston Patriots were pummeled by the San Diego Chargers in the AFL Championship game.


Worst playoff losses in franchise history Had the Patriots not scored late in the fourth quarter, it would have gone down as the second-worst playoff loss in franchise history. The worst came as the Boston Patriots.
Date Opponent Round Score Margin
Jan. 5, 1964 Chargers AFL Championship 51-10 41 points
Jan. 26, 1986 Bears Super Bowl XX 46-10 36 points
Jan. 15, 2022 Bills Wild card 47-17 30 points
Jan. 10, 2010 Ravens Wild card 33-14 19 points
Dec. 31, 1978 Oilers Divisional 31-14 16 points
SOURCE: Pro Football Reference

It quickly became apparent on Saturday there would be no comeback in this team. Only twice have the Patriots rallied to come back to win when down by 18 or more at half: Super Bowl LI vs. the Falcons (New England trailed 28-3 at one point) and a wild 2013 overtime win against the Broncos.

Largest halftime deficits of the Bill Belichick era The Patriots have come back to win after trailing by 18 or more points at halftime only twice — against the Broncos in the regular season in 2013 and the comeback to win Super Bowl LI
Date Opponent Halftime margin Result
1/15/2022 Bills -24 47-17 Loss
11/24/2013 Broncos -24 34-31 Win (OT)
9/7/2003 Bills -21 31-0 Loss
10/25/2020 49ers -20 33-6 Loss
9/16/2018 Jaguars -18 31-20 Loss
2/5/2017 Falcons -18 34-28 Win (OT)
10/16/2005 Broncos -18 28-20 Loss
SOURCE: Pro Football Reference

Alex Speier of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

Katie McInerney can be reached at katie.mcinerney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @k8tmac.