News & Analysis

NFL Week 8 PFF ReFocused: Buffalo Bills 24, New England Patriots 21

Buffalo Bills rookie running back Zack Moss ran for 81 yards and two touchdowns in the 24-21 win over the New England Patriots in Orchard Park on Nov. 1, 2020. Jg 110120 Bills 5

With poor passing conditions in Buffalo, the run games took center stage as the Buffalo Bills defeated the New England Patriots, 24-21. Both teams struggled to move the ball through the air, and the old-school, run-first battle was won by the team that made fewer mistakes. 

The Bills forced a fumble on Patriots quarterback Cam Newton to seal the deal late in the fourth quarter. The Bills move to 6-2 with a commanding lead in the AFC East, while the Patriots trudge further into uncharted territory in the Bill Belichick era, falling to 2-5.

Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.

Story of the Game

The Bills finished with 167 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries from their running backs, averaging an impressive .25 EPA per play in the run game compared to just -.14 from the pass game. Devin Singletary and rookie Zack Moss picked up 113 of their 167 yards after contact, with Moss getting into the end zone for the first two rushing touchdowns of his career. 

Bills quarterback Josh Allen went just 3-for-7 for 43 yards on passes thrown 10-plus yards in the air, though he came through with three first downs on the ground, including a QB draw for a 2-yard score. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs was the lone bright spot in the pass game, as he caught six passes for 92 yards and three first downs. 

The Bills' offensive line was led by left tackle Dion Dawkins, who had an excellent all-around day, leading the Bills’ rushing attack and allowing little in pass protection. The game highlighted a New England run defense that has been uncharacteristically poor coming into the game, as their 49.6 grade ranked just 28th through seven weeks. 

Nov 1, 2020; Orchard Park, New York, USA; New England Patriots running back Damien Harris (37) runs with the ball against the Buffalo Bills during the fourth quarter at Bills Stadium. Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

On the other side, a depleted New England offense tried to stitch it together behind RB Damien Harris’ 102 yards on 16 carries and WR Jakobi Meyers picking up four first downs on his six receptions. 

Newton had another pedestrian game through the air, though he did go 3-for-4 for 48 yards on 10-plus yard passes. He was doing his part in the run game with nine carries for 54 yards until his fourth-quarter fumble ended any hopes for the Patriots. The fumble was forced by Bills interior defensive lineman Justin Zimmer, a fifth-year journeyman who is closing in a career-high with just 91 snaps on the year. 

For the Bills, the last two weeks have looked like the last few years in Buffalo with the defense leading the way to the victory. They’re showing the ability to win games in different ways, a good sign as we head into the second half of the season. 

Rookie Watch

For the Bills, Moss set a career-high with his 81 yards on the ground and forced an impressive four missed tackles on just 14 carries. WR Gabriel Davis did not register a catch on his two targets while playing 35 snaps on the day. 

Patriots rookie Michael Onwenu continued his excellent start to his career, performing well in his second start at right tackle. In a disappointing season, Onwenu’s performances is one of the biggest bright spots for New England. 

On the defensive side, edge defender Josh Uche made his NFL debut, playing 13 snaps. On six passing plays, Uche dropped into coverage and rushed the passer three times apiece, showing that he’s next in line to become one of the classic Patriots hybrid defenders. 

ELITE subscribers can view player grades, advanced statistics, positional snap counts and more in Premium Stats 2.0.

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