Posted on December 22, 2019, by Travis Pulver
For the last decade, there has been one thing that football fans could count on—the New England Patriots winning the AFC East. Of course, it has helped that the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, and Miami Dolphins have not been very good. But such prolonged excellence is still impressive.
However, this season, with the Buffalo Bills playing so well and the Patriots looking vulnerable, it looked like the streak had a shot to end this season—albeit a small shot. Buffalo needed to win out, including a win over the Patriots, while the Patriots lost their last two.
For part of Saturday’s game, it looked like the Bills might pull off getting the win they needed over the Patriot. New England led after one, 7-3. The Patriots extended the lead to 10-3 late in the second only to see the Bill tie the game up at 10-10 with a touchdown on the last play of the half.
The Patriots knew they were going to be in for a fight, and the Bills were certainly providing a great one. After extending the lead to 13-10 late in the third, the Patriots saw the Bills take the lead, 17-13, after a 53-yard touchdown pass from Josh Allen to John Brown.
Heading into the fourth, the score remained the same, making it the first time since the 2016 season that the Patriots trailed heading into the fourth quarter against a division rival at home. But then the Patriots did what the Patriots do with Tom Brady behind center—they mounted a comeback.
It started with a drive that began late in the third and ended early in the fourth with a field goal to close the gap to one point, 17-16.
Following a quick three and out by the Bills offense, Brady did what he does best. He engineered a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter complete with a two-point conversion to give the Patriots a seven-point lead, 24-17, with 5:06 to play.
Buffalo gave it a good try on their last drive getting within the ten-yard line with two minutes to go. But the Patriots defense held strong and kept them from tying the game up.
It was a big enough win for the Patriots that Bill Belichick smiled when asked how the division championship hat feels during his post-game comments, via ESPN:
“Love wearing this hat; it’s a good feeling here. Great fourth-quarter drive offensively, and defensively big stop there at the end. … There’s a lot of mental toughness in that locker room, and they showed it.”
While the game was closer than fans would have liked, fans should feel good about their team’s chances going forward. Tom Brad has been getting blasted all season long for not being the same guy anymore, but he led the way on offense completing 26 of33 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown.
Brady’s performance will likely give fans hope that their team will at least make the AFC Championship game again (which DraftKings gives them a good chance of winning at +200). However, whether it will be enough to get the job done against the Baltimore Ravens (-110) or Kansas City Chiefs (+350) remains to be seen.