Offensive doldrums continue in loss.
by Steve Saslow
November 11, 2001
The Bills said goodbye to Foxboro stadium as they struggled in their last game in the windy stadium enroute to a 21-11 loss to the surging Patriots. The defense came to play aided by the wind they held the Patriots to 205 yards in total offense but New England made the most of every yards scoring three touchdowns while the Bills offense looked anemic for the second straight game and Rob Johnson left the game with a right shoulder injury.
The Bills offense couldn't do anything on the ground or in the air as Johnson was again running for his life on many occasions as he was sacked five times in the game. Travis Henry complained during the week that he needs the ball 20 to 25 times a game and with the wind blowing this would have been a perfect time to give it to him. He only carried 16 times however gaining just 51 yards.The defense kept the Bills in this game most of the day as they used many defensive line rotations to stay fresh and they had their best pressure day of the season gaining a whopping seven sacks and forcing three turnovers. Three rookie linemen, Aaron Schobel, Tyrone Robertson, and little used Kendrick Office had two sacks apiece. The defense did well on the ground holding Antowain Smith to just 59 yards until he broke tackles on his way to a 41 yard game clinching score late in the game to give him 100 yards against his old team.
The Bills came out throwing into the wind as Johnson hooked up with Peerless Price on a 33 yard reception on the second play of the game. The drive stalled however when Henry was stopped short of a first down on a fourth and one play. The Bills couldn't risk a field goal attempt into the wind so they went for it from the Patriots 28 yard line. That was the way it would go for the Bills offensively all day as they couldn't get the big play when they needed it.
The Patriots meanwhile were efficient when they had to be they used the wind at their backs to get good field position on poor punts by Brain Moorman in the first and third quarters to setup their first two touchdowns. A 28 yard punt and 29 yard return setup the Patriots at the Bills 35 midway through the first quarter. An end around for a first down and two Smith carries setup a Tom Brady touchdown pass to Kevin Faulk to give the Patriots a 7-0 lead.
The Bills would cash in on an Antoine Winfield interception but they would only get a field goal, not the touchdown they desperately needed to kick start the offense. A 36 yard pass to Jay Riemersma and two Henry runs set the Bills up inches from the goal line. Another penalty at the wrong time, this one on Jonas Jennings set the Bills back five yards and Johnson narrowly missed hitting Eric Moulds for a touchdown. Jake Arians 24 yard field goal made it 7-3.
It stayed that way until Moorman had a 20 yard punt into the wind in the third quarter setting the Patriots up at the Buffalo 40 yard line. Five plays later with the help of two pass interference penalties Antowain Smith dove in from the one to give New England a 14-3 lead. Winfield was called for one of the penalties in the end zone setting up the Smith score.
The Bills would take advantage of a turnover when Office forced Brady to fumble when he sacked him, Jay Foreman recovered setting up a 17 yard touchdown pass to Price from backup quarterback Alex Van Pelt. Johnson left the game in the previous series and will have his injured shoulder evaluated on Monday. Van Pelt hit Eric Moulds for the two point conversion pulling the Bills to within three with just under three minutes to go.
Whatever life the Bills had disappeared when two players failed to recover the onside kick that they had their hands on. Two plays later Smith got his ultimate revenge by putting an exclamation point on the Patriots victory with his late score. The Bills played hard this week but the result was the same another loss compounded by the fact that they may lose their quarterback. It was a terrible offensive performance on a windy day in Foxborough but the defense played well. You will see that the gameballs went on the defensive side of the ball while the goats were on the offensive side:
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