ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Taking the ball out of rookie quarterback Mac Jones‘ hands in wind gusts over 40 miles per hour and relying on their running game, the New England Patriots defeated the Buffalo Bills 14-10 at Highmark Stadium on Monday night to enter their bye week as the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
Overall, Jones was just 2-of-3 for 19 yards, while the Patriots ran for 222 yards on 46 carries.
The three passing attempts are the fewest ever in Patriots history, while the two completions match their fewest, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The three pass attempts were the fewest by any team since the Bills attempted just two in Week 3 of the 1974 season (vs. the New York Jets).
The Patriots’ fewest pass attempts in a game was previously five, which came in the 1982 “Snow Plow” game against the Miami Dolphins in Foxborough, Massachusetts — a game played in a driving snowstorm that was scoreless in the fourth quarter when stadium worker Mark Henderson drove a tractor on to the field to clear a spot for the only field goal of the game.
The Patriots improve to 9-4, with the Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs all 8-4. The Bills, meanwhile, drop to 7-5 and their margin for error to win the AFC East has been thinned.
Jones threw just one pass in the first half — when the Patriots led 11-7 at the break — and completed it for 12 yards. The pass sailed high in the wind and tight end Jonnu Smith pulled it down.
That was the fewest first-half pass attempts by a team since at least 1978, which is as far back as data is available, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The previous record was two, which happened three times, most recently by the Indianapolis Colts in Week 14 of 2017 — also in Buffalo, in snowy conditions.
Overall, Jones’ only other completion was a screen pass in the fourth quarter.
The only other games in Patriots history in which they completed just two passes came in December of 1982, and November of 1969 — both against the Miami Dolphins.
Their one passing first down tied for the second fewest in franchise history, and was their fewest since Dec. 4, 1983. The Pittsburgh Steelers were the last team in the NFL that won a game with one or fewer passing first downs, doing so in 2010 with Dennis Dixon as their quarterback.