The New England Patriots threw the fewest passes by any NFL team in the last 47 years Monday — and it worked. With winds whipping through Highmark Stadium, throwing the ball simply wasn’t an option for Mac Jones and the Patriots against the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football.
Mac Jones throws 3 passes in Patriots victory
Patriots quarterback Mac Jones threw just 3 passes all night — the fewest by any team since the Bills threw it twice against the New York Jets in Week 3 of the 1974 season, according to ESPN Stats and Information. The Patriots had 1 pass attempt in the first half, and that was the fewest by a team since at least 1978, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Another nugget: New England’s 2 pass completions tied for the fewest in a game in franchise history.
And yet, the Patriots won, beating the Bills 14-10 on the backs of a punishing run attack and a suffocating defense. New England ran the ball 46 times for 222 yards en route to its league-leading seventh straight win.
The Patriots’ 94% run rate was the franchise’s highest this millennium, per Next Gen Stats. Furthermore, New England went under center 93% of the time (the team’s most since 2016) and used a six-man line on a staggering 61% of its offensive snaps.
What this means for the NFL playoffs
The NFL playoff picture in the AFC becomes a bit more clear after Monday Night Football. The Patriots (9-4) are now a half-game clear of the AFC field and would have home-field advantage through the playoffs if the season ended today. The Bills, meanwhile, have not won back-to-back games in two months. At 7-5, they are currently the AFC’s seventh seed.
Sandwiched in between the two teams, in order, are the Tennessee Titans (8-4), Baltimore Ravens (8-4), Kansas City Chiefs (8-4), Los Angeles Chargers (7-5), and the Cincinnati Bengals (7-5).
Looking on the outside are the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5-1), Indianapolis Colts (7-6), and Las Vegas Raiders (6-6).
Patriots, Bills react to the historic game
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who is at times low-key hilarious, said this of Jones after Monday night’s win: “He slung it in there and made some good throws.”
Belichick also suggested the Patriots didn’t intend to run as much as they did: “We didn’t know what it was going to be. But that’s the way it worked out.”
Bills quarterback Josh Allen (15-of-30 for 145 yards and a touchdown) summed up the current vibe in Western New York perfectly: “We’re pissed off because we want to be great. We’re pissed off for greatness.”