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Mac Jones’ late TD pass lifts Patriots over Bills 29-25; Bill Belichick is 3rd coach with 300 wins

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Bill Belichick will wait for another day to talk about the latest milestone win of his coaching career.

But his team’s victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday will at the very least quiet the conversation about his coaching future.

Mac Jones threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Mike Gesicki with 12 seconds remaining to lift the New England Patriots to a 29-25 win over the Bills, making Belichick the third coach in NFL history with 300 regular-season victories.

Belichick trails only Pro Football Hall of Famers Don Shula (328) and George Halas (318). Including playoffs, Belichick has 331 victories, trailing Shula (347) and ahead of Halas (324).

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“I mean, it’s great. I’m really more focused on our team and this year,” Belichick said. “We’ll worry about that later.”

Jones completed 25 of 30 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns as the Patriots (2-5) snapped a three-game skid. It was the second fourth-quarter comeback victory of Jones’ three-year career.

During the Patriots’ losing streak, Jones threw five interceptions and no touchdown passes.

“I always believe in myself,” Jones said. “I’m not going to sit up here and say it every time. But I do believe in myself and I do that through work and all that stuff. … You go as your quarterback goes. For me, it’s continuing to be the same guy every day and just be Mac.”

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Ezekiel Elliott rushed for a score and Chad Ryland added three field goals to help the Patriots beat back a second-half rally by Buffalo (4-3), which briefly took the lead in the fourth quarter.

Josh Allen was 27 of 41 for 265 yards with two TDs and ran for a score. He also threw an interception that set up New England’s first touchdown. The Bills struggled on third down and scored touchdowns on only two of their four red-zone opportunities.

Including the 2021 playoffs, the Bills had won the previous four meetings with New England.

“Red zone-wise, offensively, we’re down there, we’ve got to get seven,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. “Got to close the game out when it comes down to it.”

Allen said he isn’t sure what has held Buffalo’s offense back from executing over the past three games, during which the Bills have been outscored 63-59 while losing twice. Buffalo has a total of 10 first-half points in those games.

“I wish I knew the exact answer, because we’d have it fixed by now,” Allen said. “Our season’s not over. It’s a long season. It feels pretty bleak right now. But we’re going to figure it out.”

Trailing 22-10 in the fourth, the Bills needed just over two minutes to complete a five-play, 75-yard drive. Allen found Stefon Diggs for a 25-yard touchdown with 5:32 remaining.

On the Patriots’ ensuing series, Jones completed a 9-yard pass to Kendrick Bourne, but Jordan Poyer poked the ball free from behind, giving the Bills the ball at the Patriots 29.

Buffalo converted a fourth-and-2 to set up a first-and-goal at the 4. Allen scored on a sneak two plays later, then connected with Dawson Knox for the 2-point conversion to make it 25-22.

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Jones began the decisive drive with a short pass to Rhamondre Stevenson that turned into a 34-yard gain. He hit Hunter Harvey for 14 yards on a third-and-8, and the Patriots had a first-and-goal after six plays. A pass-interference penalty set them up at the Buffalo 1, and Jones connected with Gesicki on second down.

Buffalo trailed 13-3 at halftime. Allen directed an 81-yard scoring drive on the first possession of the second half, finding James Cook for an 8-yard touchdown.

New England led 16-10 early in the fourth quarter when the Bills went for it on fourth-and-2 at the Patriots 33. Ja’Whaun Bentley knocked away Allen’s pass to Dawson Knox.

That set up a nine-play, 66-yard scoring drive for the Patriots. Jones connected with Bourne for a 22-10 lead.

INJURIES

Patriots: LB Anfernee Jennings jogged off the field after being shaken up following a hit on Latavius Murray in the third quarter. … LT Trent Brown left with a knee injury. … RT Vederian Lowe left with an ankle injury.

KEEPING IT CLOSE

The Patriots’ 1-5 start led to chatter about whether Belichick was on the coaching hot seat.

Asked about an NFL Network report that he had signed a contract extension this past offseason, Belichick declined to discuss it.

“I never talk about my contract,” he said. “I focus on the game, try to focus on Buffalo. Then I’ll focus on Miami. Count on that.”

NO PAIN

Allen insisted postgame that he doesn’t have any lingering issues after hurting his throwing shoulder last week.

“No, we’re good to go,” Allen said.

UP NEXT

Bills: Host Tampa Bay on Thursday night.

Patriots: At Miami next Sunday.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL