Allen shines as Bills beat Patriots to take first place in AFC East

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Josh Allen threw for three touchdowns and the Buffalo Bills hung on to beat the New England Patriots 33-21 on Sunday to return to first place in the AFC East title race .

With the victory, Buffalo (9-6) now holds ties over the Patriots and Dolphins, and is in the driver’s seat to win its second straight division title.

Allen completed 30 of 47 passes for 314 yards, and he also rushed 12 times for 64 yards.

Isaiah McKenzie replaced Bills receivers Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis, who were both on the reserve/COVID-19 roster, notching a career-high 11 catches, 125 yards and a touchdown. McKenzie’s big day came after the Bills balked at even using him for field kickoffs during windy conditions at Buffalo in their Week 13 loss to the Patriots.

The Bills were aggressive, going there three times in fourth in the first half, including a fourth-and-two that helped set up a 12-yard pass from Allen to Stefon Diggs for a 17-7 lead. That went to 26-14 early in the fourth quarter after running back Devin Singletary’s 2-yard touchdown; Buffalo was disallowed on their 2-point conversion attempt.

The Patriots (9-6) made it 26-21 with 7:37 left on Damien Harris’ 8-yard run, his second of the game, but rookie quarterback Mac Jones struggled to find openings against the best of the Bills. ranked defense, finishing his day making 14 of 32 passes for 145 yards and two interceptions.

Buffalo quickly faced third down on their next set before Allen joined McKenzie for 15 yards along the sideline. The Patriots forced a fourth-and-one on their own 34, but Allen was able to get out for 8 yards.

The Bills were looking third and 10th with less than four minutes left when Allen returned, this time creating space before throwing a pass to Diggs for 19 yards. Two plays later, Allen threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dawson Knox.

In Week 13, the Patriots dominated the field, rushing for more than 200 yards in their 14-10 win on a cold, wet night. Jones attempted just three passes in that first meeting, but got there in just two runs on Sunday.

The Pats’ change in strategy allowed Buffalo’s top-ranked defense to have more cracks at Jones, and the Bills took advantage of this, tipping and intercepting a second-quarter pass from Jones into Buffalo territory.

Buffalo nearly squandered an opportunity to widen its lead on its first drive of the third quarter when Allen knocked down a wide-open Jake Kumerow in the end zone. After a pair of penalties, the Bills settled for a 34-yard field goal from Tyler Bass that made it 20-7. New England pulled it back to 20-14 on their ensuing possession when Harris scored on a 1-yard run to cap a 14-play, 75-yard drive.

Harris finished with 103 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

INJURIES

Invoices: Left guard Ike Boettger was sent off the field at 10:05 of the second quarter with a ruptured Achilles tendon. … RB Devin Singletary suffered an ankle injury on the Bills’ first practice in the third quarter, but was able to come back. … Starting right guard Jon Feliciano was not cleared from the COVID-19 list in time to play Sunday.

Patriots: DL Daniel Ekuale left just before half-time with an undisclosed problem but returned in the second half.

FOLLOWING

Invoices: Host Atlanta on Sunday.

Patriots: Host Jacksonville on Sunday.