Mac Jones and the New England Patriots played a style of game more reminiscent of a triple-option service academy than the modern NFL.
Jones threw just three passes on a windy Monday night in Buffalo for the fewest pass attempts in an NFL game in nearly a half-century as the Patriots beat the Bills 14-10.
The Patriots relied on the ground game as 40 mph wind gusts forcing the emphasis to be placed on running the ball, with 46 runs compared with just the three passes. The last time a team threw that little in a game came Sept. 29, 1974, on another windy day in Buffalo.
Joe Ferguson threw only two passes — both incomplete — that day for the Bills in a 16-12 victory over the New York Jets. O.J. Simpson ran the ball 31 times for 117 yards and Joe Namath went 2 for 18 with three interceptions for the Jets.
There was only one other game in the last 70 years when a team threw three or fewer passes, with Kansas City having three in a 24-10 win over the Oakland Raiders in 1968.
This was the eighth time in the Super Bowl era that a team threw five or fewer passes in a game, according to Sportradar, with those teams going 7-0-1. The last team to do it was also the Patriots, in the infamous 3-0 Snowplow Game win over Miami in 1982.
TOP OF THE MOUNTAN
If the season ended now, the top seeds for the playoffs would be Arizona (10-2) in the NFC and New England (9-4) in the AFC.
Both the Cardinals and Patriots missed the playoffs last season, with Arizona finishing 8-8 and New England at 7-9. The last time both top seeds were coming off non-playoff seasons was in 1992, when San Francisco (14-2) took the spot in the NFC and Pittsburgh (11-5) in the AFC.
Neither the 49ers nor Steelers made the Super Bowl that season, with San Francisco losing to Dallas in the NFC title game and Pittsburgh to Buffalo in the divisional round.
The Cardinals have gotten into this position by being the NFL’s best road team.
Arizona’s 33-22 win at Chicago last week improved the Cardinals to 7-0 on the road, with all the victories coming by at least 10 points. The last team to win its first seven road games by double digits was the 1968 Cowboys, who went 7-0 on the road that season. The road success ended in the playoffs when Dallas lost its first game 31-20 at Cleveland when the sites were predetermined by division.
The only other team to win seven straight road games by double digits in the same season was the 1984 Super Bowl champion 49ers, who went undefeated on the road but won the opener at Detroit by just three points.
The Miami Dolphins have been on a quite a roller coaster this season.
After winning the season opener at New England, the Dolphins lost their next seven games. Since then, Miami is 5-0 to become the third team in NFL history to have a five-game winning streak and seven-game losing streak in the same season, according to Sportradar.
The others are the 2017 49ers, who lost their first nine games and won their final five, and the 1994 Giants, who started 3-0, lost seven straight and then won six in a row.
With a win next week against the Jets following a bye, the Dolphins will join the 1974 Jets as the only teams to go from 1-7 to 7-7 in a season.
Tom Brady is doing things at age 44 that he has never done before.
Brady had his sixth game this season with at least four TD passes, surpassing the five he had in 2007 for the most in a season in his career.
This is the sixth time in NFL history a QB has thrown for at least four TD passes six times in a season, with the other five all winning the MVP: Aaron Rodgers (seven in 2020), Patrick Mahomes (seven in 2018), Peyton Manning (nine in 2013), Manning (six in 2004) and Dan Marino (six in 1984).
Two of Brady’s TDs last week went to Rob Gronkowski, giving the pair 90 in the regular season in their careers. That surpassed Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates (89 TDs) for second-most in NFL history. Only Manning and Marvin Harrison (112) have more.
Indianapolis’ Jonathan Taylor scored on a TD run for the 10th straight game last week against Houston.
Taylor is the fifth player ever to run for a TD in 10 straight games in the season and the first to do it since LaDainian Tomlinson did it in 12 straight games in 2004. The others are Priest Holmes (11 games in 2002), Emmitt Smith (11 in 1995) and John Riggins (12 in 1983).
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Josh Dubow, The Associated Press