Top 3 Things We Learned

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Top 3 things we learned from Bills at Patriots | Week 7


1 — Ending the same way it started

Buffalo's first offensive play of the game was the same as its final play of the game: a turnover.

Bills QB Josh Allen was intercepted on his very first throw of the day and he fumbled on a last-ditch scramble play as the clock expired in the fourth quarter with his team down 29-25.

It was the third time in his career Allen's first pass attempt was picked off as the Bills fell to 4-3 on the season.

"I need to see him there," Allen said of New England's Jabrill Peppers who made the interception to begin the game. "It's not a good way to start again."

Sandwiched in between the turnovers was another slow start from the offense and a miraculous fourth quarter rally in which the Bills got a 25-yard touchdown to Stefon Diggs, immediately followed by a forced fumble by Jordan Poyer, and a go-ahead sneak by Allen with 1:58 remaining.

But the Patriots, which ranked second-to-last in scoring offense entering the day, marched down the field trailing 25-22 in 8 plays for 75 yards and took the lead with 0:12 to play on a Mike Gesicki 1-yard touchdown.

"I didn't put the defense in position enough, and then just overall didn't didn't play complimentary football," Bills head coach Sean McDermott said.

The Patriots got into Buffalo territory on the first play of that series thanks to a 34-yard gain on a screen from QB Mac Jones to RB Rhamondre Stevenson. A big pickup on first down with timeouts available still allowed New England to be selective with their play-calling.

"They throw a screen, we're a four under, three deep defense, and we didn't do enough to leverage the formation and make the tackle," McDermott said. "They had two timeouts at the time. So they could run it, they could draw, they could screen early. And they did."

New England worked the ball down to the 1-yard line, then Jones threw an incompletion on first down. The Patriots went right back to a similar play, lining up 6-foot-6 TE Mike Gesicki in the slot and Jones found him on a slant to take the lead.

"He's a big target," safety Jordan Poyer said of Gesicki. "We came after (Mac Jones) and they just made a good throw and catch."

Their first series of the game, the Patriots went down the field in 9 plays, 63 yards for a field goal, then scored a touchdown off the good field position following Allen's INT.

The Bills were down two possessions halfway through the first quarter and trailed for 53 minutes of the game.

2 — Missed chances (again)

In addition to Allen's book-end miscues, the Bills didn't execute well in all three phases of the game. Particularly on offense, the Bills were out of sync again early on. 

Sunday marked the third-straight game with 7 or fewer points in the first half. 

"I wish I could tell you, I really do. I wish I could tell you," McDermott said. "We talk about it. We talk about being more detailed, getting into a rhythm early, playing complimentary football, and all three phases working together. We just haven't been able to get into a good rhythm in the first quarter. Let's just start there. So just overall, got to find the answers to that."

Allen said postgame that he felt confident with the team's game plan coming in, but that it just didn't translate to the game.

Even in Buffalo's struggles the last two games, it had still been one of the more efficient teams in the red zone, scoring on 75% of their trips this season (2nd in NFL). That was not the case Sunday as the Bills were just 2 for 4 (50%).

In the first half, they had a Dawson Knox TD catch wiped out by an offensive pass interference play. Later in the half, kicker Tyler Bass missed a field goal, his third miss in the last two games.

"When we're down there, we gotta get seven. And we were shooting ourselves in the foot at times," McDermott said.

On the other side of the ball, the Patriots played ball control, establishing the run then using play action to move the ball down field. Mac Jones completed 25 of 30 passing for 272 yards. It was Jones' first game of the season with 270+ yards passing, 2 TDs and 0 INTs.

"They just weren't really pushing the ball down the field. It's kind of just screens and dink and dunk down the field. That's what they do on us. And I think that it starts because we weren't able to stop the run to be able to do that," safety Micah Hyde said.

With Buffalo taking the lead in the final two minutes, the defense hoped to come up with another stop similar to last week.

"Obviously it comes down to that last drive," Hyde said. "You got to execute and get off the field, we just didn't do it."

3 — Kincaid unlocked, Cook leading skill player despite loss

After missing last week's game with a concussion, TE Dalton Kincaid returned to the lineup on Sunday and had his best day as a pro.

In his fifth NFL game, Kincaid hauled in all eight of his targets for a career-high 75 yards. 

"Definitely a bright part of the game," his teammate Dawson Knox said.

Kincaid was Allen's go-to target particularly in the first half when the rookie led the team in both targets (4) and receiving yards (44). The Allen-Kincaid connection came up huge during the Bills' initial go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter.

Facing a 4th & 2 from the New England 8-yard line with under three minutes to play, Allen found an open Kincaid along the sideline for a first down. Three plays later, the Bills got their first lead of the game.

Kincaid is up to 27 catches for 193 yards this season.

"He''s a weapon to be used. So hopefully that'll just continue to keep his confidence up," Knox said.

RB James Cook had a big day for the Bills, leading their skill position players in total scrimmage yards with 102. Cook had racked up 334 total yards through the first three weeks but had managed 169 in Weeks 4-6. 

The second-year pro rushed 13 times for 56 yards against the Patriots and caught three passes for 46 yards and a touchdown. His 8-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter was Buffalo's first TD of the game and Cook's first receiving score of the year.

Check out the best game photos of Josh Allen, James Cook and the Bills in Gillette Stadium. This gallery is presented by Gabe's Collision.

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