This is one of the most lopsided rivalries in the NFL to date. The New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills play twice a year in the regular season. Since 2000, the Patriots are 35-5 against the Bills. This was not always the case.
The Patriots and Bills have had some great battles. In the 1990s, it was the Bills who were the team on top having made four straight Super Bowl appearances. Even during their down years, they have tried to make some memories against the dynasty of the Patriots.
When looking through history, there are some great games that have been played. Here are five of the best moments from this rivalry.
5. Drew Bledsoe Trade
Bledsoe was drafted first overall by the Patriots in the 1993 NFL Draft. He spent nine successful years with the Patriots where he was a three-time Pro Bowler.
In a 2001 matchup against the New York Jets, Bledsoe was hit hard along the sideline by Mo Lewis. He would not return to the game and eventually lost his starting spot to the backup at the time named Tom Brady. Prior to the 2001 season, the Patriots signed Bledsoe to a 10-year, $103 million contract. At the time, this was the largest contract in NFL history.
Bledsoe would not return in 2002 despite the monstrous contract. He was dealt for a 2003 first-round pick to none other than the Buffalo Bills. After one Pro Bowl season in 2002, Bledsoe went downhill quickly. In 2003, he threw just 11 touchdowns in 16 games and added 12 interceptions. He would spend just three years in Buffalo.
4. Bills Rally Behind Simpson
Early in the rivalry, O.J. Simpson turned in one of the top individual performances in the rivalry’s history. It came on November 23, 1975. The Bills came into the matchup with a three-game lead over New England and their offense showed why.
Simpson scored on a two-yard touchdown in the second quarter to give the Bills a 21-14 lead. Buffalo would go onto outscore the Patriots 21-10 in the second half. In the end, Simpson finished with 69 yards and two touchdowns. He added two receiving touchdowns to his stat line. Simpson scored a total of four touchdowns and led the Bills to 45 points.
Simpson is one of the best players in Bills’ history. From 1971-1975, the Bills won the first nine games these two teams played in the division. Simpson is a big reason why Buffalo dominated the Patriots when they were placed in the AFC East after the AFL-NFL merger.
3. The Comebacks of 2011
Both teams entered their first meeting in 2011 with a 2-0 record. Brady was hot from the start throwing three early touchdowns, two to Rob Gronkowski and one to Wes Welker. New England led 21-0 and the game seemed in hand.
The Bills fought all the way back to tie the game. A Fred Jackson one-yard run would tie the game at 24 early in the fourth quarter. They would grab the lead just 14 seconds later on a pick-six by Drayton Florence. After a second Welker touchdown, the Bills would steal the win on a last-second field goal.
Later in the season, the Patriots at 12-3 would take on the 5-10 Bills. Despite their season being over, the Bills jumped out to a 21-0 lead with three first-quarter touchdowns. Their momentum ended beginning in the second quarter. The Patriots scored the next 49 points of the game for a lopsided 49-21 victory.
A three-touchdown comeback is not easy to pull off. In this case, it miraculously happened twice in the same rivalry with each team getting it done.
2. Pats Eliminate Buffalo from Contention
In 1994, the Bills won the first meeting against New England. The teams would end their second meeting just one game apart. The 7-7 Bills needed a win to keep pace in the playoff race or they would be eliminated from contention.
This game began just like the first one. Buffalo grabbed a 17-3 lead in the second quarter behind backup quarterback Frank Reich. From that moment on, the comeback was on. Bledsoe connected with Ben Coates and Vincent Brisby in the second quarter for scores. The Patriots added three touchdowns and a field goal in the second half to extend their lead. Their offense seemed to flip a switch from the beginning.
In the end, New England ended with 38 unanswered points to win 41-17. This loss knocked the Bills out of the playoffs and began to even the playing field. The Bills dominated this matchup early in the decade, but this game was a big moment in the Patriots making a run in the series.
1. Dueling Shutouts
What is the only way to rebound from a 31-0 loss? Beat the team just as bad when you play them next. The 2003 season was one of the most intriguing in this rivalry.
The Bills and Patriots squared off in Buffalo in Week 1 of the season. The Patriots held a five-game winning streak over the Bills entering this matchup. This game was anything but positive for New England. The Bills intercepted Brady four times, including one that went for a touchdown. Travis Henry would score twice on the ground. It was a 31-0 statement win for the Bills. To make this game even more personal, Bledsoe was under center for the Bills.
In typical Patriots fashion, they rebounded after the loss and won 14 of their next 15 games. They entered the final game of the season hosting the Bills. Revenge was clearly on their mind in this one. They scored four first-half touchdowns, all on Brady passes. They led 28-0 at the break and never looked back. The defense pitched a shutout and they returned the favor with a 21-0 win over the Bills. Brady finished 21-32 for 204 yards and four touchdowns, all thrown to different receivers.
The Bills would end the season at 6-10. This blowout victory gave the Patriots even more momentum heading into the postseason. They would continue their run and end it with a Super Bowl victory over the Carolina Panthers. The first and last games of the 2003 season were very different in nature but somehow ended with the same score.