EditorsNote: Several cosmetic changes, including in the seventh and ninth grafs
The New England Patriots pounded out 273 rushing yards to beat the Buffalo Bills 24-12 on Sunday at Gillette Stadium to clinch the AFC East title for the 10th straight season.
Rookie running back Sony Michel led the way with 116 yards and a touchdown as the Patriots (10-5) found their footing after consecutive losses and extended their unprecedented run of divisional dominance.
With the strong running game, New England didn’t need to rely on Tom Brady, who finished 13-of-24 passing for 126 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Brady’s 48.3 quarterback rating was the seventh-lowest of his career.
Cordarrelle Patterson ran for 66 yards on four carries before leaving with a knee injury. James White had 41 yards and a touchdown, and Rex Burkhead added 39 yards as the Patriots had their highest rushing total since 2008 against a Buffalo defense that entered the game ranked ninth in the NFL against the run.
Edelmen (six receptions, 70 yards) rolled over Bills defenders Jordan Poyer and Rafael Bush on his way to a 32-yard touchdown that put the Patriots up 21-6 at the 5:05 mark of the third quarter. A 24-yard punt return from Edelman led to Stephen Gostkowski’s 24-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
Bills rookie quarterback Josh Allen was 20-of-41 passing for 217 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions. Allen also rushed for 30 yards in his first game against Bill Belichick and the Patriots. He threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Zay Jones after the outcome had been decided in the fourth quarter.
LeSean McCoy returned after missing one game with a hamstring injury but only managed 9 yards on six carries, furthering a disappointing season for the six-time Pro Bowl performer, who has produced 488 yards in 13 games. Undrafted rookie Keith Ford started for Buffalo and finished with 33 yards on seven runs.
The Patriots rushed for 179 yards in the first half to build a 14-0 lead. They ran the ball on all six plays of a 55-yard drive the ended with Michel’s 4-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter. White scored on a 27-yard run early in the second quarter.
Poyer intercepted Brady on the second play after halftime and returned it to the Patriots’ 15 to set up Stephen Hauschka’s 35-yard field goal. Hauschka made a 41-yard field goal on Buffalo’s next possession to cut New England’s lead to 14-6.
—Field Level Media