By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- The New England Patriots showed up for their playoff game in Buffalo on Saturday night. Technically speaking, at least. The players and coaches were physically present. No doubt about it.
But in terms of actually showing up for the biggest game of the year, the Patriots were no-shows.
The Bills scored touchdowns on all four of their first-half possessions, gaining 300 yards on 33 plays, with a 7.5-yard average on their 17 carries and a 10.8-yard average gain on their 16 pass attempts. It was a balanced, dominant, demoralizing offensive attack.
On the other side, the Patriots' offense had exactly one decent drive to feel somewhat good about. That drive, though, ended with Mac Jones throwing an interception in the end zone.
After the Patriots gained 58 yards on nine plays on that opening drive, they went three-and-out and punted on fourth-and-1 from their own 34-yard line. On their next drive, they picked up a first down on a defensive pass interference penalty, but they faced a third-and-20 shortly thereafter. That drive ended in a punt, too.
Jones and Co. got the ball back with 1:53 left in the first half, trailing 27-0. And though New England would finally get on the board on that drive, a rather embarrassing fake spike play from the offense kind of summed up everything about the first half for the visiting team.
Facing a second-and-8 near midfield with just 38 seconds left in the half, the Patriots hurried to the line to run a spike. But Jones faked the spike before dropping back to pass, trying to catch the Bills off guard. Instead, he caught his own team off guard.
Right tackle Trent Brown might have not gotten the memo on the fake, as Jerry Hughes quickly and easily made his way around the mammoth O-lineman. Jones was a dead duck in the pocket, where he took a sack.
The Patriots burned their second timeout to stop the clock and take stock of where they were at.
Fortunately for the Patriots, Jones hit Jakobi Meyers on consecutive passes to pick up 26 yards, before running an actual spike with 6 seconds left. Nick Folk successfully kicked a 44-yard field goal, cutting Buffalo's lead to 27-3.
That was technically the Patriots' most successful series of the entire first half. And that ... speaks volumes to the way things went in Buffalo over the first 30 minutes.
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