FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In Week 15, the Bills were partying like it was 1995 after winning their first division title since that season. Now, following a 38-9 blowout over the New England Patriots on "Monday Night Football,'' they are gigging it up like it's 1999. For the first time since the '99 season, Buffalo has been able to sweep the season series against their division rival and did so in convincing fashion in primetime.
As has been the case all season, the Josh Allen-Stefon Diggs connection was simply dominant. Allen finished his night throwing for 320 yards and four touchdowns, three of those falling in Diggs' arms. Meanwhile, Cam Newton completed just 5 of 10 passes for 34 yards before being sent to the bench early in the second half with the blowout ongoing. The Patriots quarterback did rush for a touchdown in the second quarter, but that score marked the lone touchdown for New England in Monday's contest. Jarrett Stidham completed 4 of 11 passes for 44 yards in relief of Newton, which clearly was not enough to spark a comeback effort.
With this win, Buffalo now jumps up to the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoff picture while this latest loss confirms that New England will have its first losing season since 2000. For more on this game, check out our main takeaways below.
Why Buffalo won
After a somewhat slow start where they were seemingly playing down to the Patriots, the Bills woke up and jumped into lightspeed, leaving New England in the dust. They were able to rip off 21 unanswered points sandwiched around halftime and that was all that they really needed to complete the season sweep of their division rival. Stefon Diggs continued his career-season with a superb night as he and Josh Allen led the way in the blowout win, connecting on nine of their 11 targets for 145 yards and three touchdowns.
Buffalo was also aggressive early and it proved to be successful. They were perfect on fourth down, converting all three of their attempts, including a fake punt in the first quarter. The Bills piled up 474 yards of total offense, had 31 first downs compared to New England's 11, and they were successful on four of their five red-zone trips. When you do all that and commit zero turnovers, it's essentially the perfect recipe for a victory.
Why New England lost
The Patriots offense simply couldn't keep up with the Bills high-powered passing attack. At one point, Buffalo scored a touchdown on four-straight drives (minus a quick kneel down prior to the half). As the Bills scored 24 points at a frantic clip, New England scored just one touchdown and punted three times over that same stretch. When you fall that far behind, you're forced to abandon the run, which just so happens to be the Patriots' bread-and-butter offensively. When they needed them to do damage through the air, Cam Newton and the passing attack continued to be inefficient as they managed just 34 passing yards for the game prior to giving way to Jarrett Stidham in the third quarter and the game already out of reach. Even when the Patriots had what appeared to be a deep touchdown to Damiere Byrd at the start of the game, the ball bounced out of the veteran receiver's hands. It was just that kind of night for Bill Belichick's offense.
That said, it wasn't just the passing game that contributed to New England's ninth loss of the season. There was no answer for Stefon Diggs and the Buffalo running game was able to find success as they exploited both defensive tackle Lawrence Guy and linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley being inactive for this matchup. There were also some failures on special teams, including allowing the Bills to convert a fake punt on fourth-and-5 in the first quarter that ultimately led to a touchdown.
Stefon Diggs' 50-yard touchdown at the 3:55 mark in the second quarter was the true back-breaker in this game, despite it being relatively early in the contest. Prior to that, New England and Buffalo were playing at a similar pace, trading field goals, and touchdowns, and then the Bills quickly showed why they are AFC East champions. Diggs beat J.C. Jackson essentially from the jump, Allen was able to thread the needle to find him and it was off the races for Buffalo.
The Bills jumped out to a 24-9 lead with that score and, while that's all the needed, they tacked on 14 more points to put an exclamation point in this win. Meanwhile, Diggs finished with 145 yards and three touchdowns on nine catches in what was a dominant performance for the Pro Bowl pass-catcher.
Play of the game
We got a brief glimpse of Super Cam with 10:39 to play in the second quarter. It came on a second-and-7 play from the Buffalo nine-yard line. The Bills immediately put pressure on Newton and it appeared like he was destined to go down on a sack for negative yards. However, the Patriots quarterback recaptured what made him an MVP back in 2015 and was able to muscle his way free, bounce out left and weave his way into the end zone for the touchdown.
That score gave Newton 12 rushing touchdowns on the season, which ties with Steve Grogan (1976) for the most rushing touchdowns by a Patriots quarterback in a single season in franchise history. This was also Newton's 70th rushing touchdown of his career, which not only extends his NFL record but also put him in the same company as Hall of Famer Earl Campbell as the only No. 1 overall picks in league history to have 70-plus career rushing touchdowns.
That was about all the highlights from Newton, however, as he was largely the quarterback we've grown accustomed to in 2020. While he was able to do damage like that on the ground, he completed just five of his 10 passes for 34 yards before heading to the bench in place of Jarrett Stidham as the Bills were blowing New England out.
From here, the Patriots will finish out the 2020 season when they host the New York Jets. This will be the first time since 2008 that their year will come to a close in lockstep with the regular season. As for the Bills, they will head back to Buffalo and await the Dolphins in what could be a rather pivotal playoff matchup for Miami. Meanwhile, the Bills could look to lock up the No. 2 seed with a win.