Bills hang on to beat the Patriots, 24-21 (full coverage)

The Buffalo Bills defense was on its heels all the way up to the New England Patriots’ final play on Sunday at Bills Stadium.

That’s when someone stepped up to make a play. Defensive tackle Justin Zimmer came flying across the field to force a fumble by Patriots quarterback Cam Newton as he ran close to the Bills’ end zone. Safety Dean Marlowe, who was playing for injured starter Micah Hyde, recovered the ball to seal a close 24-21 division win over the rival Patriots.

The Bills got their run game going to the tune of 190 yards on the ground. Devin Singletary and Zack Moss both went over 80 yards in the game. Quarterback Josh Allen threw for just 154 yards and had one interception and a rushing touchdown. But his 61.1 completion percentage is the best mark of his career against a Bill Belichick defense.

The Patriots have been horrible against the run all season and the Bills attacked them on the ground 38 times in the game. Allen passed the ball only 18 times. Buffalo improves to 6-2 on the season and sends the Patriots to 2-5. Here are some instant observations from the game.

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Bills fans need no reminder, but here it goes: The Patriots have won the AFC East 11 straight years and 17 times since the turn of the century. The Bills are looking for their first division title since 1995.

Nothing will be set in stone regardless of the outcome on Sunday. That said, this game is undeniably a chance for the 5-2 Bills to create a cushion in the standings between them and a Patriots team that has started 2-4 in its first season without quarterback Tom Brady.

Find the nearest wooden table to knock on before reading this next paragraph. Entering Week 8, the Bills have a 79-percent chance to win the AFC East according to the model developed by the website FiveThirtyEight. Football Outsiders pegs the Bills’ chances at 82.8 percent. A victory would only help those odds.

Furthering the potential symbolism of a Bills win, it would mark the first victory over the Patriots since Sean McDermott took over as head coach in 2017. Buffalo last defeated New England on Oct. 2, 2016, when Jacoby Brissett was starting in place of a suspended Brady.

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