BOSTON (CBS) -- So this is how the rest of the NFL felt for 20 years. The Patriots' return to the postseason after a one-year absence was short-lived, as New England fell to the Buffalo Bills in Saturday's AFC Wild Card game in Orchard Park.
Early-round playoff games were merely a formality for the Patriots during the Tom Brady era, but it's a bit different with Mac Jones under center. The Patriots were completely dominated by the superior Bills on just about every front on Saturday night.
Let that simmer for a minute. The superior Bills. The team that New England pummeled for two decades has now made the Patriots their punching bag, cruising to a 47-17 win on Wild Card weekend. The Bills rubbed the Patriots' face in it all night long, and the Pats just sorta took it.
Josh Allen was on point and shredded the Pats with his arm and his legs. Devin Singletary ran all over the Patriots defense, which couldn't stop a nose bleed. Buffalo only saw third down six times when it counted, and they converted on each of them. The only thing that could stop the Bills on Saturday night was the clock.
Buffalo scored touchdowns on all four of their possessions in the first half. And then on their first three possessions of the second half. Simply put, the Bills did whatever they wanted against the Patriots on either side of the ball. Even offensive linemen scored touchdown against the Patriots defense.
Meanwhile, the New England offense struggled to get anything going. They let the ball bounce off their fingertips on a number of occasions, and were even hit with a too many men penalty in the second half. How does that happen on Wild Card weekend?
Saturday night was ugly on all fronts for the Patriots, and now their season is over. So for one last time this season, let's take a look at the Ups and the Downs from a Patriots game. As is the case when New England is on the wrong side of the scoreboard, the downs are much more plentiful.
First Half Of Horrors
The Bills got the ball four times in the first half, and finished all four of those possessions by finding the end zone.
While the Bills put up four touchdowns, the Patriots offense had just four first downs to that point. They finished the half with seven thanks to their field goal drive just before the break, but the first-half numbers were laughable. (And not in a funny way.) The Bills had 300 yards by halftime, while the Patriots had 127 -- with 53 of those yards coming on their opening drive that ended with a pick in the end zone. Allen had 172 passing yards alone in the first half.
There was no defensive fight in the first half, and the scoreboard made that crystal clear.
Old Guys Looked Old
Dont'a Hightower and Devin McCourty are wily veterans, but they showed their age on Saturday night. Allen made Hightower look bad on a 15-yard scramble on Buffalo's first possession on a third-and-3 run, and McCourty was burned up the sideline on a 19-yard catch-and-run by Isaiah McKenzie on Buffalo's third possession.
Opening Drive Woes: The Defense
Buffalo got the ball first and marched 70 yards on nine plays, with the Patriots defense giving them very little resistance as they went down the field. Allen took off for 26 yards on the fourth play of the game, making Matthew Judon look bad on the play. It was a sign of things to come.
Allen added another 15 on the aforementioned Hightower play three plays later, and lofted it to Dawson Knox in the back corner of the end zone two plays after that. The Patriots were in a 7-0 hole just five minutes into the game.
Opening Drive Woes: The Offense
You can't really blame Mac Jones for his interception that ended New England's first possession. It was an incredible play by Micah Hyde, who made a sliding pick in the end zone. But that won't make the Patriots feel any better about it.
New England also had a pair of drops on the drive, with Jones' pass-catchers letting him down along the way. Brandon Bolden had a huge drop on a deep pass on first-and-10, and Jakobi Meyers dropped a pass that hit him in the hands as well. Granted, Meyers' drop came after the ball was gently tipped by Jonnu Smith a few yards in front of him, but it still was a catchable ball.
Jones took off for a 16-yard pickup on the ensuing third-and-10, but then he was picked in the end zone and New England's scoring chance was over.
INT Into TD
The Bills turned that interception into a touchdown, as Allen and company marched 80 yards downfield in 10 plays, capped off with another Allen-to-Knox touchdown. This one was over the middle in front of Adrian Phillips.
The Bills converted a pair of third downs on the drive, with Singletary (six yards on third-and-1) and Allen (five yards on third-and-4) each burning the Patriots up the gut.
Bausby Needs New Shoes
De'Vonte Bausby was elevated from the practice squad for this one, and because Jalen Mills wasn't cleared to return from the COVID list, he made his playoff debut on Saturday night.
This was probably not the welcoming the 28-year-old wanted:
Allen was really, really, really good on Saturday night, and he was making everyone look bad. Bausby shouldn't feel too bad about this one.
It Just Got Worse
The Bills made it five touchdowns on five possessions after picking off Jones (on a forced pass that hit off the fingertips of Hunter Henry) to start the second half.
Allen was just showing off when he threw a 34-yard bomb to Emmanuel Sanders, who was wide open in the end zone after outrunning Joejuan Williams.
Buffalo missed the kick, so at least the Patriots were only down 30 at that point. But the Patriots let the Bills become the first team in the Super Bowl era to score a touchdown on each of their first five drives of a playoff game. That's not something that Bill Belichick is going to feel too good about being associated with in the history books.
Neither will the fact that Saturday night ended as the most lopsided loss of the Belichick era. It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad night for the Patriots.
A Big Man Touchdown
The Bills were just piling on in the fourth quarter, and the Patriots just let them. Buffalo's seventh touchdown was a one-yard reception by offensive tackle Tommy Doyle.
Tommy Doyle's is a bar in Watertown, not an offensive lineman that the Patriots defense should be giving up touchdowns to in the playoffs. But here we are.
The Patriots are now looking up at the Bills in the division. That is the reality at the moment.
Buffalo took out decades worth of frustration out on their former foil on Saturday night. The Bills have dominated the last two matchups, punting the ball a total of zero times in those two games. They've now won four of the last five showdowns with New England.
The Patriots have some work to do this offseason if they want to catch the Bills. The world truly is upside down right now.
Yeah, it has come to that. Solid games for Nick Folk and Jake Bailey. Nicely done, New England's kickers of footballs.
Blocked Extra Points
Deatrich Wise blocked an extra point in the first half, and Lawrence Guy did so in the second half. Those may have meant something, had the Patriots not lost by a million points.
The Bourne Supremacy
The Mac-to-Kendrick Bourne connection was pretty good at least. Jones hit the receiver seven times for 77 yards and two touchdowns, including a nice drop into his breadbasket in the third quarter that eventually went for 43 yards.
Bourne's emergence throughout the year was one of the best storylines surrounding this team, and his connection with Mac is one of the bright spots for the future.
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