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Bills earn 1st sweep of Patriots since ’99 with 38-9 win

Patriots: New England Nation

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – DECEMBER 28: Stefon Diggs #14 of the Buffalo Bills reacts as he runs into the end zone for a touchdown as Jonathan Jones #31 and J.C. Jackson #27 of the New England Patriots give chase during the first half at Gillette Stadium on December 28, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Josh Allen passed for four touchdowns and the Buffalo Bills became the first AFC East foe to sweep the season series with the New England Patriots in two decades with a 38-9 victory on Monday night.

A week after unseating the Patriots as AFC East division champions, the win also keeps alive the Bills’ hopes of securing a top-three seed for the AFC playoffs.

The Bills (12-3) last swept the Patriots in 1999. The last division opponents to sweep the Patriots were the Jets and Dolphins in 2000. The Patriots’ 19 straight seasons without losing both games to a divisional opponent was an NFL record. New England (6-9) will finish with its first losing record since Bill Belichick’s first season in 2000.

Allen was 27 of 36 for 320 yards. He now has 34 touchdown passes, surpassing Jim Kelly to set a franchise single-season record. With his eighth 300-yard game, he also surpassed Drew Bledsoe’s single-season team record of seven.

Stefon Diggs had nine catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns, setting a Bills single-season record for receiving yards.

The Patriots struggled to move the ball for most of the night with running back Damien Harris out for the second straight game with an ankle injury. Cam Newton had a touchdown run but was just 5 of 10 for 34 yards passing before being pulled in the third quarter for backup Jarrett Stidham.

Newton’s 34 yards passing are the fewest by a Patriots starting quarterback since 1993.

The Bills had no trouble moving the ball against a depleted Patriots defense that was missing linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley and defensive tackle Lawrence Guy, who were inactive with shoulder injuries.

Their absences were most glaring in the passing game. New England struggled to put pressure on Allen, allowing him time to find open receivers. The Patriots allowed a season-worst 474 yards total for the game.

The Patriots closed to 10-9 on Newton’s 9-yard TD run in the second quarter, but Nick Folk missed the extra point and the Bills pulled away from there.

Buffalo used its passing game to march down the field on the ensuing drive. Allen completed 5 of 7 throws for 59 yards and a 4-yard TD to Lee Smith.

After a quick three-and-out by New England, the Bills went right back to work.

Allen misfired on his first pass of the drive, and then connected with Diggs for 17 yards to get the ball to midfield. Diggs got free again on the next play, slipping behind J.C. Jackson on a slant and sprinting the final 32 yards for the touchdown to make it 24-9.

The Allen-Diggs connection worked again on the opening drive of the second half. Allen found Diggs three times during an eight-play, 75-yard drive that ended with an 18-yard TD play by the star receiver.

INJURIES

Bills: S Jordan Poyer was helped off field late in second quarter to be evaluated for a head injury.

Patriots: DE Tashawn Bower left in the first quarter with a neck injury. … LB Josh Uche exited in second quarter with a foot injury. … LB Terez Hall left in the third quarter with an ankle injury. … S Devin McCourty exited in the third quarter with a shoulder injury. … C David Andrews left in the third quarter with a calf injury. … RG Shaq Mason exited in the third quarter with a foot injury. … LB Anfernee Jennings left in the fourth quarter with an undisclosed injury.

MOVING ON UP

With his TD run in the second quarter, his 12th of 2020, Newton tied Steve Grogan for the franchise single-season record for rushing TDs by a quarterback. It also marked Newton’s 70th career rushing TD, extending his NFL record for rushing TDs by a quarterback.

UP NEXT

Bills: Host the Dolphins on Sunday.

Patriots: Host the Jets on Sunday.

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