Bills fall short in 24-17 loss to Patriots

Buffalo Bills
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (WBEN/AP) — Tom Brady passed for 271 yards and a touchdown, sneaked for a third-down conversion to set up another score and threw a downfield block on another scoring drive to help the New England Patriots clinch their 11th AFC East title in a row by beating Buffalo 24-17 on Saturday.

PHOTOS: Bills fall to Patriots 24-17

With Bills visiting for a rare late-season matchup while the division was still at stake, Sony Michel ran for 96 yards and Rex Burkhead rebounded for an opening-drive fumble to catch four passes for 77 yards and run for 20 more. Both teams had already clinched playoff berths; the Patriots (12-3) remain in contention for a first-round bye or even the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

Josh Allen completed 13 of 26 passes for 208 yards and ran for 43 more, including a first down on fourth-and-1 from the Patriots 30 with about three minutes left. After driving to the New England 8, Allen over threw Dawson Knox in the end zone and then was sacked by Adam Butler. Facing fourth-and-goal from the 15 with just over one minute left, he was forced out of the pocket and had to throw the ball up for grabs in the end zone, where it was knocked down by J.C. Jackson.

“We’ve got to find a way to get over that hump,” Allen said after New England’s AFC East-clinching 24-17 win on Saturday. “We were playing to put ourself in position where we could potentially win it, but they played well today and hats off to them.”

Allen was sacked for a 6-yard loss on third-and-goal before throwing a jump ball to Beasley in the end zone that was broken up.

Brady, who is 42 and nursing a right elbow injury, improved to 32-3 against the Bills, and Buffalo hasn't beaten the Patriots in six games under coach Sean McDermott. This one was clinched when Burkhead ran it in from 1 yard with 5:11 left; Brady found Julian Edelman for the 2-point conversion to make it a seven-point game.

The Bills made only one big play in the first 29 minutes, when safety Jordan Poyer punched the ball out of Burkhead's hands, and Micah Hyde returned it 31 yards to the New England 31. That led to a field goal and a 3-0 lead.

Brady responded with a 75-yard drive, going 5-for-5 and hitting Matt LaCosse for an 8-yard score that made it 7-3. It was the three-time NFL MVP's 539th TD pass, tying Peyton Manning for second behind Drew Brees, to Brady's 76th different receiver, extending what was already a record.

After a Buffalo three-and-out, New England started on its 1 and went 17 plays before Nick Folk made a field goal from 36 yards. But a failed attempt on fourth-and-inches with 36 seconds left gave the Bills one more chance before the break.

Allen connected on two passes before dropping one in on Dawson Knox for 33 yards; although it was originally ruled a touchdown, replays showed he was brought down at the 1. Two plays later, 320-pound tackle Dion Dawkins was wide open for the touchdown that sent it into the half tied 10-10.

After the Patriots opened the second with Folk's 51-yard field goal — the team's first attempt from more than 50 yards all season — Allen connected with Brown from 53 yards to make it 17-13. It was Allen's longest pass of the season.

But Brady led New England to a field goal and touchdown its last two full possessions, then the defense protected the lead by stopping the Bills.

Allen has thrown for a touchdown in 21 straight games, breaking Doug Flutie's franchise record from 1998-99.

Bills: C Mitch Morse had his lower right leg being worked on late in the game.

Patriots: DB Jason McCourty, who missed last week's game, left the game after aggravating a groin injury. OL Marcus Cannon left with an ankle injury and did not return. WR Julian Edelman appeared to enter the concussion protocol after a collision that led to an offensive pass interference penalty against him. He went to the blue tent and then the locker room but returned to the game.

UP NEXT

Bills: Host the New York Jets on Sunday.