Final, Patriots 37-22: Looking at the score, it’s difficult to believe this game was close in the fourth quarter. The Patriots showed a lot of heart coming back from Jerod Mayo’s second-quarter knee injury, and the Patriots’ offense is officially back on track.
Brady looked fantastic, throwing for 361 yards and four touchdowns, and the Patriots’ offense bent, but didn’t totally break.
Fourth quarter, 2:49, Patriots 37-22: The party’s over, Buffalo.
Brady hit LaFell for a 56-yard touchdown pass, and Bills fans are sullenly heading for the exits.
The Bills’ comeback attempt is officially over.
Fourth quarter, 5:58, Patriots 30-22: The Bills aren’t ready to go away just yet. The Bills drove down the field in a hurry and capped the drive off with a TD pass from Kyle Orton to Chris Hogan. The Bills got the 2-point conversion and they’re down just eight points.
Fourth quarter, 8:42, Patriots 30-14: The Patriots ate up nearly half the quarter on the way to seven more points. A 16-point deficit will be difficult for Kyle Orton to overcome.
The Patriots finished off the drive with a touchdown pass from Brady to LaFell. Julian Edelman picked up 26 yards through the air and Brandon Bolden had a strong drive in place of Ridley.
End third quarter, Patriots 23-14: Kyle Orton is really bad at avoiding sacks. There. I said it.
Orton took easily avoidable sacks from Deontae Skinner and Rob Ninkovich, which backed up the Bills out of field goal range.
The Patriots will punt to start the fourth quarter.
Third quarter, 0:55, Patriots 23-14: Dan Connolly (head) and Stevan Ridley (knee) are both out for the game.
Third quarter, 3:08, Patriots 23-14: The Patriots had to settle for a field goal. Gronk played on third down and Ridley is limping around the sideline.
Third quarter, 3:52, Patriots 20-14: The Patriots are in rough shape right now.
Rob Gronkowski had to be helped off the field with what looks like an arm injury. He’s back on the field now.
Stevan Ridley went down with a right knee or ankle injury. He had to be helped to the bench.
Third quarter, 5:33, Patriots 20-14: The Bills are still in this with more than 20 minutes left in the game. The biggest plays allowed were a 20-yard catch by Scott Chandler and a 20-yard reception by Sammy Watkins over Darrelle Revis. Revis recovered to make the stop before he got into the end zone, but Fred Jackson pounded it in from the 1-yard line two plays later.
The Patriots defense needs to clamp down if they can’t score on this drive.
Third quarter, 12:30, Patriots 20-7: Apparently the Patriots found their deep threat.
Brady fired a pass 43 yards into the end zone and Tyms flew past two guys and over a third to make the touchdown grab.
End half, Patriots 13-7: The Patriots go into halftime with a 13-7 lead after Stephen Gostkowski hit a 53-yard field goal to end the second quarter.
That was an ugly half of football by both team’s offenses. It will be interesting to see how the Patriots come out of the locker room after Mayo’s knee injury.
Second quarter, 0:06, Patriots 10-7: C.J. Spiller had a long run, but McCourty forced the ball out and rookie DE Zach Moore recovered it. The Patriots have the ball on their own 41-yard line.
Second quarter, 0:14, Patriots 10-7: Oh look, another three-and-out. Brady’s not having much fun behind his terrible O-line.
Second quarter, 1:04, Patriots 10-7: The Bills’ offense is brutal. They went three and out and ended the drive with a Kyle Orton sack by Ninkovich. Orton ran right into him.
Orton is a not-so-good QB, based on what I’ve seen so far.
The Patriots have the ball at their own 43-yard line.
Second quarter, 1:43, Patriots 10-7: The Patriots came away with a field goal, and it could have been much worse. Cannon rotated in for Solder and Brady was under constant pressure. He nearly threw a pick six on second down.
Second quarter, 2:00, 7-7: With the Pariots on the verge of losing control of the game, Chandler Jones made a huge play by stripping Bills QB Kyle Orton, then leaping on the ball for the recovery.
The Patriots have a second and 10 on the Bills’ 24-yard line.
Second quarter, 2:28, 7-7: Connolly is questionable to return with a head injury. Mayo is out of the game with a knee injury. He might be out for the season.
Second quarter, 3:52, 7-7: The Patriots allowed a 7-yard touchdown to Robert Woods.
The Bills drove down the field after the Patriots lost linebacker Jerod Mayo to what looked to be a serious right knee injury. Mayo had to be carted off the field, and his teammates crowded around him and hugged him as he left the field.
Tavon Wilson, Chris White and Deontae Skinner chipped in to take over for Mayo, but the Patriots’ linebacker depth is so shallow that they’ll need to look outside the organization to fill his role long term.
Dan Connolly went to the locker room. Jordan Devey is in for the starting left guard.
Second quarter, 8:43, Patriots 7-0: The Patriots responded by going three and out themselves. Nate Solder gave up a brutal sack to Jerry Hughes. Solder didn’t block the Bills defensive end.
The Bills have the ball at their own 33-yard line.
Second quarter, 10:41, Patriots 7-0: The Bills went three-and-out, and Kyle Orton has sucked all the energy out of the building.
Marcus Cannon is in for the Patriots at right tackle for Sebastian Vollmer. The Patriots have the ball on their own 32-yard line.
Second quarter, 13:04, Patriots 7-0: The Patriots are the first on the board.
Edelman had a shaky start to the game, but he was on fire on this drive, catching a 13-yard pass, running the ball for 10 yards and drawing a big pass interference penalty in the end zone, when Bills safety Duke Williams basically speared him as he was going for the catch.
The Patriots next play was a 1-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Tim Wright.
After a holding penalty and terrible return, the Bills have the ball on their own 6-yard line.
Second quarter, 14:53: Kyle Orton’s first pass of the second quarter was picked by Jamie Collins. It was a horrendous pass.
End first quarter: We’re still scoreless after the first quarter. The Bills are dink and dunking down the field. Kyle Orton just completed a first down to Scott Chandler, who was working against Skinner.
The Bills have the ball on their own 49-yard line.
First quarter, 0:57: We’re still scoreless after Gostkowski missed a field goal. Gostkowski hit his first try, but Danny Aiken was flagged for a false start. Aiken’s next snap was low, and Gostkowski’s 36-yard attempt went wide left.
The Bills have the ball on their own 26-yard line.
First quarter, 6:39: As we’ve come to expect out of a Bill Belichick-led defense, they bent but didn’t break against the Bills’ offense, allowing two first downs.
Colton Schmidt’s punt bounced into the end zone for a touchback. The Patriots have the ball on their own 20.
First quarter, 10:46: The Patriots came out hot, with two receptions for 17 yards by Rob Gronkowski, but incomplete passes from Brady to LaFell and Tyms put the Patriots in a third and 10 situation. Julian Edelman was flagged for a false start, and the Patriots ran a 2-yard draw on third and 15.
Brian Tyms only saw one snap. Aaron Dobson didn’t take the field on the first drive.
Ryan Allen’s punt careened into the end zone and the Bills have the ball on their own 20.
First quarter, 13:26: The Bills went three and out to begin the game. The Patriots opened in a 3-4 with rookie Casey Walker drawing the start at NT. Wilfork, Chris Jones, Chandler Jones, Jamie Collins, Rob Ninkovich, Jerod Mayo, Darrelle Revis, Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty and Alfonzo Dennard made up the starting defense.
First quarter, 15:00: Vince Wilfork, Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater, Dan Connolly and Jerod Mayo are out for the coin toss. The Patriots called tails, won the toss and will defer to start the game.
Stephen Gostkowski’s kick went through the end zone for a touchback.
First quarter, 15:00: We’re minutes away from kickoff. The stadium is packed.
One thing I’ll be watching for is how much Tyms plays in this game. He could add a deep threat to the Patriots, which could prevent the Bills from crowding the middle of the field.
12:50 p.m: This could be a loud environment for the Patriots to play in. The Bills are staying in Buffalo after being sold to Terry Pegula. The crowd just went wild as the Pegulas were introduced at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
12:23 p.m.: Based on pregame warmups, Kline is starting at right guard.
The rest of the OL goes: Solder (LT), Connolly (LG), Ryan Wendell (C) and Vollmer (RT).
12:14 p.m.: As usual, Patrick Chung was back taking kick returns, and Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola were on pregame punt return duties.
It’s unclear which of Tom Brady’s ankles is injured. Both lower legs are heavily taped.
11:31 a.m.: Dont’a Hightower is inactive for the Patriots. Nate Ebner, Bryan Stork, Brandon Browner, Cam Fleming, Dominique Easley and James White round out the inactives.
That means that Tyms will make his Patriots debut. Aaron Dobson also is active. Zach Moore will backup Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones at defensive end.
11:00 a.m.: Matthew Slater went through some pregame tests with the training staff. Slater was limited in practice this week with a shoulder injury. Wide receiver Brian Tyms was the first Patriots player on the field. He could make his Patriots debut this afternoon.
Linebacker Dont’a Hightower has a brace on his left knee. He’s also going through pregame tests with the training staff.
10:20 a.m. ET: The New England Patriots finally found a suitable combination on their offensive line in the team’s 43-17 trouncing of the Cincinnati Bengals last week.
The Patriots will have to shake up the starting O-line for the third straight week now, however, with rookie center Bryan Stork out with a concussion. Marcus Cannon or Josh Kline could get the start in Stork’s place.
For the first three weeks of the season, Nate Solder started at left tackle, Cannon at left guard, Dan Connolly at center, Jordan Devey at right guard and Sebastian Vollmer at right tackle. Rookie Cameron Fleming earned the start at right guard in the Patriots’ Week 4 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, with Stork at center and Connolly at left guard. Fleming then broke his finger, and Ryan Wendell got the start at right guard against the Bengals.
Their combination against the Bengals was their best so far, and Stork could return next Thursday on short rest against the New York Jets.
They’ll have to make it work this afternoon against a stout Buffalo Bills front seven. The Bills share the NFL lead in sacks (17) with the Jets and Indianapolis Colts. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has an injured ankle, which left him questionable for Sunday’s matchup.
The action kicks off at 1 p.m. Stay here for news and analysis throughout the game.
Thumbnail photo via New England Patriots offensive lineman Ryan Wendell (62) and offensive lineman Dan Connolly (63) against the Denver Broncos in the 2013 AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.