Patriots survive scare from Bills, but there's competition in the AFC East

The Buffalo Bills weren’t winners on Sunday. But they announced to the New England Patriots that there’s competition in the AFC East.

Josh Allen threw three interceptions and left the game after an ugly hit to the head, and the Patriots still needed a late turnover to put the Bills away in a 16-10 win in a battle of AFC East unbeatens.

Brady struggles

Both defenses were dominant, stifling the opposing game plans from their offensive counterparts. The Patriots won despite the struggles of Tom Brady, who completed 18-of-39 passes for 150 yards with zero touchdowns and an interception. Sony Michel was New England’s most potent offensive weapon, and he trudged along to 63 rushing yards on 3.7 yards per carry as the Patriots managed just 244 yards of total offense.

But the biggest plays of the game were made by New England’s defense, which came up with four interceptions to counteract its stunted offense and a 109-yard effort on the ground from the ageless Frank Gore. With Matt Barkley leading the Buffalo offense in the final two minutes, Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins came up with the game-clinching interception after Kyle Van Noy forced an errant throw with a hit on Barkley as he released the ball.

14 PHOTOS
The most impressive NFL records held by Tom Brady
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The most impressive NFL records held by Tom Brady

Most regular season wins by a starting quarterback: 207

(Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

Most passing yards, regular season and postseason: 81,693

(Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)

Most passing touchdowns, regular season and postseason: 509

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Most touchdowns thrown to different receivers: 71

(AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Most division titles: 16

+ Most consecutive division titles by a starting quarterback: 10

(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Most postseason games started by a quarterback: 40 

+ Most postseason games played, all-time: 40

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

Most postseason touchdown passes thrown: 73

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Most postseason passing yards: 11,179

(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

Most postseason wins by a starting quarterback: 30

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Most Super Bowl appearances: 9

(AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Most Super Bowl touchdown passes: 18

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Most Super Bowl passing yards: 2,838

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Most Super Bowl wins: 6

(Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

Most Super Bowl MVP Awards: 4

(AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

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Patriots don’t score TD after first quarter

The pivotal play of the game may have come in the first quarter when New England’s J.C. Jackson blocked Corey Bojorquez’s punt, which Matthew Slater returned for a touchdown.

It was the last time the Patriots would reach the end zone, but it proved to be enough to improve to 4-0.

The Bills couldn’t capitalize on the efforts of their defense as Allen turned the ball over three times, completing 13-of-28 pass attempts for 153 yards with three interceptions and no touchdowns. He left the game early in the fourth quarter after Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones hit him squarely with a helmet-to-helmet blow. He did not return.

Are Bills for real?

The Bills fall to 3-1 on the season, but validated their 3-0 start despite picking up their first loss. They got off to their hot start courtesy of victories over the New York Giants, New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals, which entered Sunday with a grand total of one victory among them.

But their defense was up to the test against the defending Super Bowl champions, even if their offense was not. And they may provide some competition this season in the AFC East that the Patriots aren’t accustomed to.

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