Patriots lock up AFC East title with win over Bills

Matthew J. Lee/Boston Globe
It took a few more weeks than we all would have liked, but the Patriots finally wrapped up the AFC East crown with a 24-12 win over the Buffalo Bills.

The story of this one was New England's effectiveness in the running game. Sony Michel, Cordarrelle Patterson, James White, Rex Burkhead and even Phillip Dorsett combined for 275 yards on 45 carries, and it was evident they would all be used a lot based on the Patriots' first scoring drive.

All six of New England's plays on that drive were runs, with Michel capping it off with his fifth touchdown of the season. The Patriots also went to the ground on their second touchdown of the day, with White going 27 yards for the score.

But from there, the Patriots struggled to score and let Buffalo hang around until late in the third quarter. The Bills opened the second half with two field goals to make it a 14-6 game and seemed to be gaining a little momentum. But with the Patriots driving, they decided to go for it on 4th & 4 at the Buffalo 32 yard line. Tom Brady found Julian Edelman over the middle for a 32-yard score, which made it a 21-6 game.

At that point, the game was pretty much out of reach, but the Pats tacked on a field goal with 7:44 left in the fourth quarter for good measure.

And while the running game was excellent, Brady and his receivers left a bit to be desired. Touchdown Tom was only 13-of-24 for 126 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, which is easily one of his worst games of the season. Bills quarterback Josh Allen wasn't much better, going 20-of-41 for 217 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

The Patriots defense did an excellent job of containing Allen, holding him to 30 yards rushing. And if you can believe it, Allen out-rushed his Pro Bowl teammate LeSean McCoy, who only had nine yards on six carries.

With the win, the Patriots improve to 10-5 and moved back up to the No. 2 seed in the AFC by way of a Philadelphia win over Houston. New England closes out the season with a home game against the Jets next Sunday.

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