2021 NFL playoffs: What we learned from Bills' win over Patriots on Super Wild Card Weekend

FULL BOX SCORE



1. It simply doesn't get more dominant than this. Every single Buffalo possession ended in a touchdown except for their final one, which was just a series of kneel-downs by backup quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Yes, folks -- Trubisky entered a wild-card game for Buffalo and it wasn't due to injury. Little brother has finally grown up and gave the bully big brother a whooping he never saw coming. It started with Josh Allen, who was spectacular, finishing with a passing line of 21-of-25 for 308 yards, five touchdowns and a nearly perfect 157.6 passer rating. It continued with Buffalo's defense, which forced two turnovers via Mac Jones interceptions. A total team victory is an understatement, and the rest of the league is undoubtedly now on notice. The next challenge for Allen and the Bills: Keep this momentum going. Make sure it wasn't just a fluke on a cold night in Orchard Park. That will matter most.


2. New England goes out with a whimper. It wasn't all that long ago we were pleasantly surprised to see the Patriots become a contender for the AFC crown, but somewhere along the way -- New England's Week 15 loss to Indianapolis, perhaps -- the Patriots started losing steam. They didn't regain it in the following week, falling to the Bills at home, and won just once in the regular season's final month. It didn't take long to realize the Patriots' problems had snowballed into an avalanche in the form of Allen and the Bills, who thundered down the mountain and swallowed up the helpless Pats with a scoring assault that didn't slow down until the game's final seconds. All that good feeling built by the rookie quarterback and his veteran coach evaporated on a cold night in western New York. They'll have the offseason to try to pick up the pieces.


3. Buffalo has been building toward this performance by committing to more than just Allen. The Bills spent much of the 2021 regular season gradually relying more and more on the talents of Allen, which can -- as we learned Saturday night -- produce incredible numbers, but also can hamstring their offensive potential. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll realized this in recent weeks and rededicated his approach to the ground game, which paid off in droves against the Pats. Devin Singletary racked up 81 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries, taking New England's Week 13 strategy and forcefully beating them with their own game. Daboll wasn't done there, though, running Allen six times for 66 yards and sprinkling in a little bit of receiver Isaiah McKenzie on perimeter runs, picking up 29 yards on just three attempts. The Bills attacked the Patriots from every angle, converting 6 of 7 third downs and graduating from an Allen-dependent offense to one that featured Allen but could do much more than just hope he'd go win the game by himself. That makes them incredibly dangerous from here on out.


4. Jones ends his rookie season with a valuable lesson learned. The rookie quarterback faced a bear of a Bills defense and struggled accordingly, throwing two interceptions, including one that came via a spectacular center-field chase-down from Micah Hyde. Jones' teammates didn't help him much, dropping a handful of passes, and the Patriots struggled to get much out of their rushing attack, gaining 89 yards on 20 carries. New England didn't get much of an opportunity to find offensive balance thanks to an early 14-0 hole, and Jones wasn't able to lift them out of the deficit in a hostile environment. This is part of developing into a franchise quarterback, which Jones certainly appeared to be at times in 2021. Everyone takes their lumps, and Jones got a healthy dose of them on Super Wild Card Weekend. He'll be better for it in the long run.


5. Buffalo is more than just offense. The Bills defense deserves credit for its performance, which was complemented an explosive offense that was made possible by timely takeaways. It began with Hyde's fantastic interception, which erased a scoring opportunity for New England and set up a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown march. The unit followed that up by forcing a three-and-out, also leading to a touchdown drive, then punctuated a great night by tipping and intercepting a Jones pass to open the second half. Another TD drive left viewers wondering when the Patriots might finally give in to an overwhelming Buffalo attack. The night was best described by one play: Jerry Hughes powered through right tackle Trent Brown to sack Jones, who was faking a spike and attempting to catch the Bills sleeping. Instead, Jones lost four yards and New England was forced to call a timeout, eventually settling for a field goal to make it a 27-3 game. That was just about as close as the Patriots would get to making it a game. If Buffalo keeps playing like this defensively, they'll be a very tough out in the playoffs, starting with next weekend in the Divisional Round.


NFL Research: Josh Allen became the third player in NFL history with five-plus passing touchdowns, zero interceptions and fewer than five incompletions in a single playoff game. Hall of Famer Peyton Manning did so in the 2003 Wild Card Round versus the Broncos, and Hall of Famer Kurt Warner did so in the 2009 Wild Card Round versus the Packers.


Next Gen Stat of the game: Josh Allen became the first quarterback in the Next Gen Stats era to finish with a perfect 158.3 passer rating on passes with a time to throw of 2.5 or more seconds in a playoff game (min. 15 such attempts).

Related Content

Gamepass_vert_web_r

Get exclusive access to the offseason for $9.99

Go behind the scenes and watch the offseason like never before.