Patriots Crush the Bills and Clinch a First-Round Playoff Bye

Patriots Crush the Bills and Clinch a First-Round Playoff Bye


The Bills (8-7), despite the loss, remained in contention to break their 17-year playoff drought. It is the longest active streak in North America’s four major professional sports and the longest in the N.F.L. since the 1970 merger.

New England has won at least 12 games in eight straight seasons — an N.F.L. record.

The Bills went into halftime tied at 13-13, but they managed just 3 points in the final 30 minutes.

Trailing by 13-10, Buffalo was in position to take the lead, but an apparent 4-yard touchdown pass from Tyrod Taylor to Kelvin Benjamin in the corner of the end zone was overturned after an official review.

Benjamin said he thought it was a catch.

“I mean definitely, but ref made the call and you’ve got to live with that,” he said.

The league’s vice president for officiating, Al Riveron, said in a Twitter post that Benjamin was juggling the ball and was able to get only one foot down before completing the catch.

“When Kelvin Benjamin gains control, his left foot is off the ground,” Riveron wrote. “The receiver only has one foot down in bounds with control. Therefore, it is an incomplete pass.”

That was echoed after the game by the referee Craig Wrolstad.

“It was clear and obvious that he did not have control of the ball until he brought it all the way down into his chest,” Wrolstad said in a pool report.

The Bills settled for a 23-yard field goal as the half ended.

The play elicited immediate reaction on social media.

“Regarding the Buffalo no touchdown, nothing more irritating to an official than to make a great call and then someone in a suit in an office in New York incorrectly reverses it,” the former N.F.L. officiating vice president Mike Pereira wrote on Twitter.

The game was tied, 3-3, on Buffalo’s second possession when Taylor was sacked by Marquis Flowers on a fourth-and-2 run. On the next New England drive, Brady’s third-down pass intended for Kenny Britt was intercepted by Jordan Poyer and returned 19 yards for a touchdown.

It was Brady’s eighth interception of the season. He threw two picks in the first 10 weeks, but he has six in his past five games.

Brady had not thrown an interception returned for a touchdown since last season’s Super Bowl, and had not done it in the regular season since Week 13 of 2015.

The mistake only momentarily slowed down New England’s offense. Brady capped a nine-play, 75-yard drive with a 17-yard pass that Gronkowski pulled in with one hand to tie the game at 10-10.



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