After an underwhelming first half — that might be an understatement — Brady and the Patriots owned the second with a 45-point shellacking en route to a 52-28 win.
Brady tossed three touchdowns and ran for another, but the true story of the day was the combination of Brandon Bolden and Stevan Ridley out of the Patriots backfield.
Bolden, an undrafted rookie, ran the ball 16 times for 137 yards and a touchdown while Ridley cruised out to 106 yards and a pair of scores on 22 carries. The duo was unbelievably effective, especially behind an ailing offensive line, becoming the first pair of Patriots to run for 100-yards in the same game since 1980.
A terrific performance on just about all counts, Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo led an aggressive defense to force six turnovers and just dominate the Buffalo running backs.
A terrific all around win, even with the early miscues, this was a much-needed breakout performance by a team seeking a way to rebound after last Sunday's crushing defeat.
Fourth Quarter, 1:56, Patriots 52-28: The scoring just doesn't stop.
After putting up just seven points in the first half, the Patriots have loaded up with 45 points here in the second half.
Gostkowski rebounded for his two early misses and just nailed a 30-yard field goal to put the Patriots up 52-28.
I don't like to call games before the clock says so, but this is over. Goodnight.
Fourth Quarter, 4:09, Patriots 49-28: Let's just get everyone in on the action. Brandon Lloyd, you're up.
After struggling to establish himself against Stephen Gilmore all day, Lloyd just laid out for an unbelievable grab for the 25-yard touchdown pass. The score extended the Pats dominating lead to 49-28 as well.
Lloyd hasn't seemed very in sync with Brady for much of the season, as they've struggled to consistently connect, but that was just a thing of pure beauty. Honestly, a sight not seen in New England since Randy Moss last left town.
Fourth Quarter, 6:35, Patriots 42-28: The Patriots had scored 35 unanswered points, but the Bills sliced up the New England secondary on way to another score.
Ryan Fitzpatrick connected on his fourth touchdown pass of the afternoon, hitting Brad Smith on a 35-yard toss down the middle of the seam.
The touchdown doesn't do all that much in terms of the outcome of this game, but the score does raise eyebrows even higher as the secondary appears to be depleted and unable to contain opposing quarterbacks. First Joe Flacco, now Fitzpatrick, this is getting ugly.
Fourth Quarter, 12:35, Patriots 42-21: Turnovers galore. This game went from a major disappointment for the Patriots to a massive score.
Devin McCourty picked off his second pass of the day, making up for his missed opportunities a week ago. McCourty's played awesome against the Bills and looks like he might actually be able to cover after all.
Brandon Bolden, meanwhile — this guy is unbelievable. More than just a goal-line back, this kid has 132 touchdowns and now punched in a seven-yard score to give New England a 42-21 lead.
The lead now makes it 35 unanswered points for the Pats and it finally feels like the Patriots might be back to normal — being good that is.
Fourth Quarter, 14:55, Patriots 35-21: A 14-point deficit had the Patriots worrying about how to get back on track. But multiple turnovers and a pair of 100-yard rushers — yes, a pair — finally got things back on track.
Brandon Bolden and Stevan Ridley have combined to become a dangerous tandem out of the backfield.
Bolden busted through some flailing arm tackles while Ridley punched the ball into the end zone with a two-yard touchdown to give the Patriots a 35-21 lead.
Oh, how the tides have turned.
Fourth Quarter, 14:55, Patriots 28-21: Gronk has had a rough go of it early on Sunday, but a streak down the seam helped atone for some of his earlier mistakes.
A 28-yard touchdown pass put New England back on top and has the Patriots' passing attack looking like the weapon used to dismantle defense last season.
Gronk's working out the kinks and five catches for 104 yards might be just what the doctor ordered to get out of this slump.
End Third Quarter, 21-21: When was the last time that the Patriots running game sparked the offense? It's been too long.
Brandon Bolden and Stevan Ridley joined forces to bolster the Patriots rushing attack, busting out to 184 yards on the afternoon and giving Brady some room to work over the middle in the passing game.
Brady capitalized first with a touchdown pass then a rush up the middle and suddenly New England is all tied up at 21-21 heading into the final frame of the day.
Third Quarter, 3:56, 21-21: Tom Brady is good at football. Well, that's obvious I suppose.
After a stellar drive down the field, Brady showed off more than just his arm as he took the ball across the plane with his feet.
Brandon Bolden was key to that drive yet again, bulldozing through the defensive line and finding his way to 93 yards on the afternoon, the best possible scenario for the undrafted rookie.
Bolden did the work but Brady gets the score to cap things off and bring the Pats to a 21-21 tie.
Third Quarter, 8:16, Bills 21-14: Running the football isn't the forte of the Patriots, but apparently it's what works best against the Bills.
The combination of Ridley, Bolden and even Danny Woodhead got the Patriots back in the swing of things and finally on the board again.
Woodhead took a 17-yard pass into the end zone for the score and got New England back within seven at 21-14.
Bolden and Ridley have officially been the most productive members of the offense in Buffalo, combining for 21 carries and 132 yards. Score.
Third Quarter, 11:08, Bills 21-7: The Patriots appear to just be overmatched by the Bills at this point.
21-7? This is getting out of control.
Ryan Fitzpatrick just tossed his third touchdown of the afternoon, as he pitched out a 68-yard pass to Donald Jones for the longest play of the young receivers' career.
On the other side of the field, Brady has looked solid in his decision making, but with limited time in the pocket and an apparently unreliable receiving corps something's gotta give.
Third Quarter, 13:26, Bills 14-7: Gronk just isn't making good on his opportunities in Buffalo.
After a disappointing fumble in the first half, Gronk had a chance to make up for his blunder, but a drop on the deep ball from Brady means no score for the struggling Patriots offense.
Gronkowski has killed the Bills in the past, and it seemed like he would from the get-go on Sunday but it looks like he might be overwhelmed by Stephen Gilmore and the Bills D.
2:38 p.m.: The Patriots have been underwhelming on the whole in Buffalo. So, who needs to step up the most for New England to pull out a win?
Gronk's looked good, but his fumble cost the Patriots big time. Meanwhile, Lloyd has been inconsistent and seemed overmatched by cornerback Stephen Gilmore.
As for the defense, Scott Chandler has killed the secondary and they need to get it together.
So, who needs to step up biggest for the Pats in the second half?
End Second Quarter, Bills 14-7: Tom Brady'f first drive downfield in Buffalo on Sunday was a gem. Since then, though, it's been all down hill.
Turnovers by Gronkowski and Welker cost the Patriots both the ball and great field position. And a pair of botched kicks from the typically reliable Gostkowski just worsened the blow.
Gronk may have gotten all of the hype coming into this matchup, but Bills' tight end Scott Chandler looks to be the better of the two on the afternoon. Chandler's scored both of Buffalo's touchdowns and ran the Bills out to a 14-7 lead at the half.
On defense, the play of Chandler Jones (four tackles, one sack) and Vince Wilfork, who had the huge fumble recovery has helped keep the Bills from adding to that total. The stout defense has been key to keeping this game as close as it is.
Brady needs to figure out what's happening through the air, because the Bills look to be the far superior offense thus far.
Second Quarter, 0:16, Bills 14-7: Big Vince Wilfork just doing what he does best: make plays.
A massive hit on Fred Jackson as he came through in search of the goal line and Wilfork comes up with the loose ball to give the Patriots some hope before the half.
Second Quarter, 2:15, Bills 14-7:
The Patriots had an opportunity to get back on the board before the half, but another mistake could be awful costly.
Wes Welker made a great catch and run across the middle, but a hard hit as he went down to the ground and knocked the ball loose. The Bills start another drive in great field position. This seems to be becoming a trend, and not a good one.
Already down 14-7, the Patriots just look lost against the Bills. What is going on with these guys?
Second Quarter, 3:31, Bills 14-7: Missed opportunities are killing the Patriots.
Gronkowski's fumble was the first atrocity, now a pair of missed field goals from Gostkowski have proved far too costly.
The Bills scored another quick touchdown, as Fitzpatrick hit Chandler for the second touchdown of the game to give Buffalo a 14-7 lead.
Second Quarter, 4:51, 7-7: Stephen Gostkowski is struggling badly.
Gostkowski, who is usually about as automatic as any kicker in football, looks awful with yet another missed field goal.
After that Week 2 miss at the end of regulation, Gostkowski seemed ready to rebound but his second miss of the day in Buffalo doesn't look very promising.
Yikes, a couple good drives and the Patriots still only have seven points to show for it.
Second Quarter, 9:51, 7-7: Rob Gronkowski might be the most talented tight end on the football field in Buffalo, but Scott Chandler's got the edge on this afternoon.
Gronk's fumble after a great catch over the middle ended up costing the Pats, as the Bills capitalized with a big touchdown from Fitzpatrick to Chandler to tie things up at 7-7.
Fitzpatrick literally needed just one play to toss the Bills on the board. Patrick Chung played some good defense but the eight inches between Chung and Chandler proved too tall a task — literally — for the Patriots to overcome.
Second Quarter, 11:16, Patriots 7-0: Brandon Lloyd looked good in the first two weeks of play, but in Buffalo he seems to be a bit overmatched.
Lloyd has been targeted three times already on the afternoon, but has no catches to show for it.
A missed field goal by Stephen Gostkowski was disappointing, as the Patriots don't add to their 7-0 lead, but there was some great promise from Brandon Bolden on that drive.
Bolden, a rookie from Mississippi, has looked strong on the ground and even leads the Patriots ground game with four carries for 25 yards. A young stud with some great potential in this kid.
Second Quarter, 11:41, Patriots 7-0: Devin McCourty was underwhelming with a few missed opportunities last week, but he wasn't going to allow that to keep him down in Buffalo.
McCourty made a sweet interception on Ryan Fitzpatrick's pass, giving the Pats tremendous field position to begin another drive in the second quarter.
Second Quarter, 13:41, Patriots 7-0: A punt isn't the best result for the Patriots offense, but when they've
executed that well the confidence only builds in that unit.
Pro Bowler Matthew Slater talked about keeping Bills' returner Leodis McKelvin earlier this week, hoping to keep the dangerous return mn at bay.
Check out what he had to say.
"If we can get 10 hats to the ball and try to contain and rally to the
ball, hopefully we can at least minimize the damage that he'll do back there."
End First Quarter, Patriots 7-0: Tom Brady shredded the Bills defense on his way to an opening drive score, and even a 7-0 lead is looking awful secure with the play of this aggressive Patriots defense.
Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork have combined to cause continuous problems for Ryan Fitzpatrick, and the work of Chandler Jones off the edge is keeping the Bills' running game at bay as well as Fitzpatrick from getting anything off too quickly.
Stevan Ridley gets the glory with the 6-yard touchdown, but it was the connection of Brady and Gronk that did the dirty work. Can Brady keep up this pace, though?
First Quarter, 0:54, Patriots 7-0: Chandler Jones has been a problem for opposing offensive lineman, and he just continues to show off his pass-rushing skills against the Bills.
Jones, who was in on Hightower's sack early in the first quarter, took down Ryan Fitzpatrick with a big third-down sack to get the ball back to the offense.
Jones is a beast, kid's bringing the heat.
First Quarter, 3:54, Patriots 7-0: The Patriots defense seemed a bit over matched at the start of this one, but they just continue to make key plays to keep the Bills at bay.
After a sack from Dont'a Hightower, Jerod Mayo got involved in the action. Mayo hauled in an interception off of a batted ball from Vince Wilfork and suddenly the Patriots are back on the attack.
Mayo and Wilfork are so key to this Patriots defense and Mayo just continues to show his ability as an ultimate opportunist.
First Quarter, 6:54, Patriots 7-0: The red zone woes appear to be over.
Tom Brady led an absolute perfect opening drive with a seven-play, 90-yard drive on the on the opening series of the game for the Pats to take the 7-0 lead.
Brady was precise with each of his passes, even hitting Rob Gronkowski down the right sideline for a 41-yard connection while involving both Daniel Fells and Shane Vereen nice and early.
As for the reward, the strong running of Stevan Ridley pounded the Patriots into the end zone and suddenly a 7-0 lead is making New England's early-season issues a lot less concerning.
First Quarter, 10:37: Fred Jackson doesn't seem to have missed a beat since suffering a knee injury in Week 1. But Chandler Jones is leading the Patriots run defense against the Bill's potent attack.
Jackson took five carried for 16 yards almost immediately when Buffalo got the ball, but Jones is asserting his size and strength on the left side of the defense against the Bills line.
Jones will be important to the Patriots success in the pass rush and apparently against the run as well.
1:03 p.m.: Injuries are the buzzword of the day around the Patriots.
With Mankins, Edelman and Brandon Deaderick all out on Sunday in Buffalo, there are some big question surrounding New England's ability to withstand a streaking Bills' team.
Here's three keys to keep an eye on for Sunday in Buffalo.
1. Can Donald Thomas fill Mankins' shoes? — Clearly Logan Mankins leaves some big shoes to be filled, but will Thomas be able to keep Tom Brady standing long enough to get this offense rolling?
2. Which McCourty shows up? — Devin McCourty has been an enigma for much of this season, just like his career. Will the talented Pro Bowler or the seemingly confused corner show up on Sunday? He's key to the Patriots secondary, so hopeully McCourty can be more than just another body on the field.
3. Can the Patriots hold down Spiller and Jackson — At week's start it looked like neither Jackson or Spiller wouldn't play. Now, both are healthy and ready to go. Can an injured Patriots' defensive live hold them down?
12:44 p.m.: With some key players out for the Patriots on Sunday, a number of reserves will have to fill the voids left behind.
Logan Mankins' absence may leave the biggest hole. But with Edelman and Hernandez out as well, New England could see some unlikely players step into the limelight.
Donald Thomas will get the start at guard for Mankins, but players like tight end Daniel Fells, wide receiver Matthew Slater and running back Shane Vereen all could see extended time in Buffalo.
The question now becomes which of these "unlikely reserves" will have the biggest impact for the Patriots.
12:25 p.m.: With Julian Edelman out here on Sunday, Wes Welker will be seeing a lot more time on the field. But not just as a wide receiver.
Edelman, who serves as the Patriots primary punt returner, is out with a hand injury and so Welker will be taking up the role on punts.
Welker hasn't returned punts full time since 2009, having fielded just eight last season and not having yet returned one this year
He has been successful in the return game before, but Welker has yet to ever return a punt for a touchdown. So it should be interesting to see how he gets back into the game.
Also, an interesting note, it looks like Patrick Chung will be Welker's back-up in case there is another returner needed.
11:38 a.m.: The Patriots will be without Logan Mankins in Buffalo on Sunday — that we know — but there are some other key players who will miss Sunday's AFC East showdown.
Mankins and injured tight end Aaron Hernandez are the two big name players to miss action on Sunday. Meanwhile, Julian Edelman (hand) will also be sidelined with a lingering injury.
As for the Bills, both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson are active and will see the field causing even more concern for a thin Patriots defensive line.
Here's a list of the Patriots' inactives for Sunday.
G Logan Mankins
TE Aaron Hernandez
WR Julian Edelman
DL Brandon Deaderick
DL Justin Francis
CB Alfonzo Dennard
OL Matt Tennant.
11:31 a.m.: Fred Jackson will be in the lineup for the Bills when the Patriots step on the field at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday. He'll also be especially careful about protecting his injured right knee.
Jackson, who has missed two straight weeks since injuring his knee in the season opener against the Jets, is going to wear a protective knee brace on Sunday.
The brace looks pretty heavy duty and should offer some added support for the Bills' starting tailback. The only big question remaining now is whether Jackson's partner in crime, C.J. Spiller, will be able to get on the field after suffering a shoulder sprain last Sunday.
Check out the photo of Jackson's knee brace below.
Photo via Twitter/@JosinaAnderson
11 a.m.: Tom Brady has been left fairly vulnerable to opposing defense in recent weeks. And things could be even worse on Sunday as the Patriots will be without Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins.
Mankins, who didn't practice at all this week, is suffering from a hip injury and will not play against the Bills.
New England will start back-up guard Donald Thomas in Mankins' place and have signed former New Orleans Saints center Matt Tennant as some insurance on the line.
Without the ever-reliable Mankins, Brady will likely have a tougher job against a revamped Bills' pass rush. Mario Williams and Mark Anderson haven't gotten out to the best start this season, but with more time on the line together things could finally fall into place this week.
At 1-2, the Patriots can ill afford another letdown this week, but without Mankins that might be difficult to avoid.
8 a.m. ET: After a pair of early-season letdowns, Bill Belichick and the Patriots are at 1-2 heading into an AFC East showdown in Buffalo. That's a place they certainly weren't expecting.
With so much talent on the offensive side and a revamped defense, New England had high hopes for a Super Bowl return entering the year. But the results just haven't been there. Maybe the excitement of a divisional battle will get the adrenaline pumping once again.
The Bills come in on the opposite end of things, riding a two-game win streak behind the powerful arm of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Injured tailback Fred Jackson appears ready to return to the Bills' backfield while his partner in crime, C.J. Spiller (third in the NFL in rushing), could also get back on the field this week. The duo would present an added challenge for a struggling Patriots defense.
As for the New England offense, while Aaron Hernandez remains out this week, the performance in Sunday's loss to the Ravens was encouraging. Brady led six scoring drives, including three touchdowns, but the crunch-time woes struck once again. With the lead and time to kill late in the fourth quarter, Brady was just unable to close things out.
Brady said earlier this week that the Patriots don't "deserve" to be any better than their record after the way they've played, but he and the rest of the Patriots are focused on returning to their winning ways. We'll see whether they can get on the victory side with that motivation come game time.
Keep up with all the game action, but be sure to return here for all the news, notes and analysis you can get your hands on. It's Patriots football, and we've got you covered.