Final, Bills 34-31: Rian Lindell capped off a bizarre string of events that involved penalties, a timeout that wasn’t explained and a whole lot of shoving. Bottom line, Lindell’s 28 field goal gave the Bills a victory after the Patriots choked away a 21-0 lead. They could have put the game away in the first half, but Tom Brady’s four interceptions, some key penalties and Chad Ochocinco’s dropped touchdown helped the Bills achieve this outcome.
The Bills improve to 3-0, while the Patriots fall to 2-1. They travel to Oakland next Sunday. Stay with NESN.com for complete coverage from Orchard Park.
Fourth quarter, 1:43, 31-31: Ryan Fitzpatrick hit a wide-open Fred Jackson over the middle, and he sprinted 38 yards through the New England secondary before getting taken down at the 1-yard line. It was originally ruled a touchdown, but Jackson was ruled down after the replay, which actually hurts the Patriots. They’d probably rather have Tom Brady take the ball with two timeouts and 1:43 remaining than whatever scenario plays out next. The Bills can wipe out a ton of the clock now if they’re smart with the ball.
Fourth quarter, 3:25, 31-31: Chad Ochocinco loves Wes Welker so much right now it’s crazy. Tom Brady shook off a collapsing pocket to shoot a pass to Welker over the middle, and the slot receiver squeaked into the end zone for a six-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal. Welker is having a monstrous game with 16 receptions for 216 yards and two touchdowns, and he caught two fourth-down passes on that drive.
Both of them came after the drop heard ’round New England. Tom Brady threw a majestic pass toward the right pylon, and Ochocinco beat Leodis McKelvin by a couple steps. Yet, Ochocinco let the ball clang off his hands when he could have hauled in a 41-yard touchdown. The Patriots needed 10 more plays and ate up another five minutes on the clock, which could be huge if the Bills drive down here for a game-winning field goal.
Fourth quarter, 10:22, Bills 31-24: Marcell Dareus tipped Tom Brady’s pass at the line, and Drayton Florence intercepted it and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown. This has just been mistake after mistake for Brady and the Patriots, who need to collect themselves in a big way to stop spiraling out of control.
Fourth quarter, 10:36, 24-24: The Patriots’ 21-0 lead has evaporated due to Tom Brady’s three interceptions, and now, penalties. Kyle Love was flagged for roughing the passer in one end zone, and Sergio Brown was called for pass interference in the other, taking away Josh Barrett’s interception and setting up the Bills at the 1. Fred Jackson immediately found the end zone to tie it up, and this place is rocking. The Patriots committed 46 yards worth of penalties there and bailed out Ryan Fitzpatrick’s horrendous throw that Barrett picked off.
This is the first time the Patriots haven’t been in the lead in the second half this season. What do they have as far as mental toughness?
Fourth quarter, 11:27, Patriots 24-17: Tom Brady had a chance to throw a third touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski. Instead, he threw his third interception by badly underthrowing his big target. George Wilson jumped to steal the ball away, but Brady underthrew Gronkowski by about 10 yards. It wasn’t an easy throw to make, but Brady makes them regularly. Buffalo takes over at its own 5.
Fourth quarter, 13:11, Patriots 24-17: The Bills went three-and-out, and the Patriots capitalized on third down by sending, I think, their first really aggressive blitz of the game, causing Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw it to nowhere. The Bills have had two possessions with the score 24-17, and they haven’t picked up a first down either time.
Fourth quarter, 14:43, Patriots 24-17: The Bills have their second chance to tie the game in the second half after the Patriots stalled out due to a Logan Mankins holding penalty. Tom Brady’s third-down pass for Julian Edelman was swatted aside by talented safety Jairus Byrd. The Patriots went five wide on third-and-11, which has been somewhat rare for them this season. Even when they send five guys out, they’ve typically used a tight end (or two) and/or a running back.
Buffalo takes over at its own 6 after C.J. Spiller’s fair catch. Interesting decision to field the ball that deep, but Zoltan Mesko had a lot of air under that punt, and two Patriots were setting up shop behind Spiller.
End of third quarter, Patriots 24-17: The Bills announced Aaron Williams will not return with a chest injury. Tom Brady has already eclipsed 300 yards, which puts him on pace for 400 for the third consecutive game. He’s just showing off now.
Third quarter, 2:20, Patriots 24-17: Aaron Williams gave a wave from the stretcher, so that’s obviously a great sign.
Third quarter, 2:20, Patriots 24-17: The Bills are going to have nightmares about Wes Welker, who they claimed they’d stop this week. Welker has 11 receptions for 165 yards and a touchdown, and he just caught a 23-yarder on third-and-6.
Rookie cornerback Aaron Williams has been down for a few minutes. It looks like he might have suffered a neck or shoulder injury, and the Bills are going to take him away on the stretcher.
Third quarter, 4:51, Patriots 24-17: Stephen Gostkowski’s 23-yard field goal capped off a swift drive that ended just as quickly. Rob Gronkowski hit the 100-yard mark on that drive, which fell short of a first down after two hand-offs to Danny Woodhead and another quick out pattern to the running back.
Right guard Brian Waters really is like Logan Mankins. If the whistle hasn’t blown, he’s just always looking to hit someone in another uniform, even if it’s not his assignment. He’s wired out there.
Third quarter, 9:34, Patriots 21-17: And now it’s a game. Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Scott Chandler for a touchdown on third-and-goal from the 3, and Ralph Wilson Stadium is rocking.
Chandler was left wide open because Sergio Brown covered the wrong guy, following Jerod Mayo’s assignment and leaving Chandler as free as could be. Can’t help but think Patrick Chung would have been on the field instead of Brown if he were healthy.
Third quarter, 13:13, Patriots 21-10: The Patriots forced a three-and-out to start the second half, which included a nice play by Andre Carter to help neutralize a reverse, but Tom Brady followed that up with his second interception of the game.
Brady tried to hit Chad Ochocinco on a post pattern, but cornerback Leodis McKelvin made a nice read and undercut the route once Ochocinco came out of the break and snagged the pass. Brady had no chance to complete that pass. McKelvin was simply better on that play, and it could have been a forced ball to get Ochocinco involved.
Brady hasn’t thrown two interceptions in one game since Week 6 of 2010 against the Ravens, and one of those was a Hail Mary.
Third quarter, 15:00, Patriots 21-10: The Bills will start at their 20 after the second-half kickoff went for a touchback. This possession could dictate the pace of the rest of this game.
Halftime, Patriots 21-10: The Bills scored the final 10 points of the half to revive themselves after a slow start, and they’ll receive the second-half kickoff, which will give them an opportunity to take momentum in a big way.
Rian Lindell hit a 42-yard field goal in the final seconds to cap a 10-play, 66-yard drive. Pretty crazy to run 10 plays in 62 seconds in the two-minute offense, but the Bills took enough shots and capitalized on them.
I’d like to see the Patriots mix it up a little more with the linebackers. They aren’t doing anything out of the ordinary to create pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has been chased from the pocket several times but hasn’t been sacked. The Patriots have used five defensive backs throughout the game to counter the Bills’ spread offense. It was effective to an extent through the first four series, but Fitzpatrick has 224 passing yards — two more than Tom Brady, which is surprising considering how well he has played.
Second quarter, 1:05, Patriots 21-7: Tom Brady threw his second interception of the season, and the Patriots’ scoring chance came to a halt inside the red zone. The ball deflected off Danny Woodhead and was intercepted by Bryan Scott, who made a spectacular diving play along the sideline. It’s hard to tell without a good replay, but it looked like Rob Gronkowski was breaking free from coverage as Brady wound up. Might have liked to keep that one tucked in a second longer.
Very interesting possession, too. Bills linebacker Nick Barnett made a stupid personal foul penalty by driving Woodhead to the ground after the whistle, and Jairus Byrd was flagged for a very questionable — read: bad — helmet-to-helmet hit on Wes Welker, who ducked his head after the reception over the middle.
After Brady’s pick, Logan Mankins tried to find the entire Bills team. Couldn’t tell exactly what happened after the play because of the huge scrum, but someone on the Bills did something dirty. I thought I saw Nate Solder on the ground, but Brian Waters might have also been victimized by some shadiness.
Second quarter, 1:56, Patriots 21-7: The Bills woke up on that drive, and Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a nice fade pass to Steve Johnson for an 11-yard touchdown pass. Johnson beat Devin McCourty, who didn’t engage him at the line and was turned around the wrong way throughout the route. I’ve been the first to defend McCourty on the criticism he has faced in the last two weeks, but I can’t there. It just wasn’t good coverage. Have to have better awareness of the ball if you’re not going to jam the receiver at the line at that area of the field.
Second quarter, 6:01, Patriots 21-0: Rob Gronkowski kills his hometown Bills, and it’s happening again. Tom Brady led Gronkowski through the right seam, and Gronkowski hauled in a 26-yard pass in single coverage against cornerback Aaron Williams. It’s an obvious size disadvantage, but Williams has to at least make sure he runs with Gronkowski on that route. Anyway, just another display of dominance from the tight end who can’t be covered.
On another note, though, that play probably shouldn’t have happened. One play after getting smoked by Shawne Merriman, left tackle Matt Light tackled the outside linebacker but wasn’t flagged for holding. It was as obvious as it could get, and the officials missed the call. If called, it would have wiped out a 21-yard throw to Gronkowski and given the Patriots a third-and-19 at their own 43. Instead, they had a first down at the Buffalo 26, and Brady and Gronkowski took it from there.
Second quarter, 7:33, Patriots 14-0: The Bills have gone three-and-out twice since failing on fourth down. They’ve had four possessions, and three of them have included three or fewer offensive plays. New England’s defense has settled in during the second quarter.
Center Eric Wood, who isn’t a bad player, has 25 penalty yards so far. So that’s not good.
Second quarter, 10:07, Patriots 14-0: Nate Solder’s penalty sabotaged a 35-yard gain for Rob Gronkowski, who has now lost 76 yards on two penalties in three games. Stevan Ridley got another carry, getting five yards on second-and-1. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was standing on the sideline and looked fine, so we’ll see if it’s just a rotational thing. The Bills take over at their own 18 after Zoltan Mesko’s booming 57-yarder.
Second quarter, 12:27, Patriots 14-0: Can’t have a shootout when the two teams are playing with cap guns. The Pats and Bills have traded three-and-outs, and New England takes over at its own 15 after Brian Moorman’s nice punt.
Wide receiver Steve Johnson, who plays with a questionable attitude at times, failed to get the last foot on third down then got up and started yapping at Vince Wilfork, who shoved the much smaller player back a few feet. That’s not a fight Johnson can win.
Second quarter, 14:41, Patriots 14-0: Tom Brady wasn’t happy after missing Deion Branch on a sideline route on third-and-7. Brady had Branch open for a first down, but his pass sailed wide out of bounds.
Steven Ridley got a rare carry to start the drive that went for three yards.
Matt Slater and Ross Ventrone were the two gunners on the punt unit, and Ventrone did a good job to beat his man down the field. Interesting to see him out there in that role.
First quarter, 0:14, Patriots 14-0: The Bills showed a little bit of panic there by going for it and failing on fourth-and-14 from the New England 35. Ryan Fitzpatrick had to force the ball into traffic, and cornerback Kyle Arrington jumped in front of the throw to record his second interception in two drives.
Without Albert Haynesworth, the Patriots have used three defensive linemen on each play. They started the game and much of the second series with Vince Wilfork in the middle, Andre Carter at right defensive end and Shaun Ellis lined up in the gap between the right guard and tackle. Rob Ninkovich was standing up as an outside linebacker on the left side of the defense and rushing each time. In a weird battle to watch, keep an eye on right tackle Erik Pears, who dove at Ninkovich’s knees on consecutive plays late in that drive. Ninkovich escaped harm, but it was dirty.
The Patriots haven’t put a lot of pressure on Fitzpatrick, but they’ve dropped seven guys into coverage, I believe, on every play.
First quarter, 6:01, Patriots 14-0: The Patriots answered one question about their goal-line play without the depth at tackle and tight end, and they answered another about their start in a hostile environment by scoring two touchdowns on two possessions. Keeping up with that magic number, the Bills have only run two plays.
Tom Brady play-actioned to BenJarvus Green-Ellis before lobbing a touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski on second-and-goal from the 1. On consecutive plays, the Patriots used Donald Thomas at left guard and Logan Mankins at left tackle, while Matt Light was in a tight end position. Linebacker Dane Fletcher was lined up at fullback. This team knows how to work with what they’ve got, that’s for sure.
First quarter, 8:46, Patriots 7-0: After the Bills’ first possession started with Steve Johnson’s 33-yard gain down the left sideline past Leigh Bodden, Ryan Fitzpatrick’s second attempt was picked off. Devin McCourty got his hand in to break up the pass intended for Donald Jones, and the ball deflected into the hands of Kyle Arrington, who returned it to the Buffalo 35.
First quarter, 9:45, Patriots 7-0: Tom Brady continued to make it look easy on an 80-yard touchdown drive. They didn’t even have a third down to worry about, and Brady hit Wes Welker for a 14-yard touchdown on an out-route after cornerback Drayton Florence slipped. Brady hit Welker four times for 67 yards on that drive, and Welker was smooth running through that Buffalo defense. Brady briefly motioned Welker on one play, recognized the man coverage and sent him on an out-route for a nine-yard completion on second-and-6.
Chad Ochocinco played about half the snaps on the opening drive but didn’t have any targets. Strange, but Ochocinco got off the snap about a full second late on the play that resulted in Welker’s 33-yard completion.
First quarter, 15:00, 0-0: Rian Lindell’s kickoff sailed through the end zone, and the Patriots will start at their own 20.
1:00 p.m.: The Patriots called tails and lost the coin toss, and the Bills elected to defer. Tom Brady and the offense will start it off.
12:53 p.m.: The Patriots were, of course, introduced to a loud chorus of boos here at the Ralph. The Bills, on the other hand, get a pyrotechnics display with flaming buffaloes and fireworks. This game means a lot to this team and this home crowd. They’re gonna be lubed up.
12:31 p.m.: It could mean nothing, but you never want to see a team misfire on three consecutive crossing patterns in skeleton passing drills about 40 minutes before kickoff. Chad Ochocinco and Julian Edelman dropped two of those incompletions. The Bills are going to try to prove they’re for real in this game, and if the Patriots don’t come out with a complete effort, they’ll be in trouble.
12:03 p.m.: I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but one round of fireworks just shot out of a wall behind the end zone.
To confirm an earlier post, the Patriots are wearing their white jerseys and blue pants.
11:32 a.m.: Rookie cornerback Ras-I Dowling will be the Patriots’ final inactive. More details to follow with a full post on NESN.com.
11:22 a.m.: The Bills’ new uniforms are so much better than their last redesign. They’ll be wearing their light blue jerseys and white pants. The Patriots are wearing their navy pants, and I haven’t seen the jerseys yet, but I’d believe it’s going to be the white version.
11:15 a.m.: Tom Brady and Chad Ochocinco are jogging together on the field, which is a different routine than last week. Brady is hardly ever on the field before the full-team stretch, so this is interesting. Ochocinco had been doing his own routine on the field for at least a half hour, and Brady came out and gathered the wide receiver, walked to the 50-yard line and started loosening up with him. They’ve jogged 50 yards, talked for a few minutes and then repeat the process. Interesting, indeed.
11:10 a.m.: Former Bengals teammates Chad Ochocinco and Ryan Fitzpatrick just exchanged hellos at the 10-yard line.
10:43 a.m.: Couple quick notes from the pregame scene: Wide receiver Julian Edelman cut his hair, cornerback Ras-I Dowling (hip) is working out with the training staff and punter Zoltan Mesko has a sleeve over his left knee.
10:35 a.m.: Running back Kevin Faulk, who will be on the PUP list until at least Week 6, traveled to Buffalo and is stretching on the field. He also went with the team to Miami, so Bill Belichick has to like what Faulk brings to the table from a leadership role. I think, obviously, that last notion is a little understated, but Belichick hardly ever brings injured players on the road. I think that shows the unique aspect of Faulk’s situation.
10:22 a.m.: It’s a really nice day here, too. It’s fairly warm with temperatures that are supposed to reach the high-70s, and it’s partly cloudy. Good day for a lot of offense.
The Patriots announced six of their seven inactive players Friday and Saturday, including defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth, tight end Aaron Hernandez, safety Patrick Chung, tackle Sebastian Vollmer, wide receiver Taylor Price and defensive lineman Mike Wright.
I’d expect quarterback Ryan Mallett to be the seventh inactive player. If that holds true, running back Shane Vereen will make his NFL debut, and offensive lineman Ryan Wendell will make his 2011 debut after missing time with a calf injury. This would also put linebacker Gary Guyton in uniform after missing last week’s game against the Chargers.
Along the same lines, newly-signed safety Ross Ventrone, linebacker Jeff Tarpinian, defensive lineman Landon Cohen and cornerback Phillip Adams will make their 2011 debuts after being signed to the Patriots’ active roster this week. It would double as the NFL debuts for Ventrone and Tarpinian.
The official inactive list will be announced at 11:30 a.m.
10:07 a.m.: Hello from Buffalo, where the Bills tailgaters know how to do it. Here is my view from the press box.
The scene outside is a cool one. There are people scalping tickets everywhere, and since Ralph Wilson Stadium is pretty much in the middle of a residential neighborhood, there are kids on their front lawns looking to buy tickets to the game. And you can find parking within a half mile of the stadium for $10. I was stuck in some traffic and checked out the menus on some trailers, and they’re selling hot dogs for $2. Amazing.
It was pretty jammed up outside at about 9:30 a.m., and there are fans in Bills gear all over the place. Definitely a cool spot to watch a game.
8 a.m. ET: Two of the NFL’s most explosive offenses will square off Sunday in Buffalo, and it should be a wild one.
The Patriots lead the NFL in total yards and passing yards, and the Bills are tops in the league in scoring and rushing yards. Quarterbacks Tom Brady and Ryan Fitzpatrick might be heading into this game thinking they’ve got to score five touchdowns to eek out a victory and improve to 3-0.
The last time the Bills beat the Patriots, well, Facebook didn’t even exist. New England has a 15-game winning streak against Buffalo, which is the third longest mark of all-time against any one team.