The Bills took on a Tom Brady-less Patriots team but the results were eerily the same as New England shut down the Bills attack in a 20-10 victory for their 10th straight win over Buffalo. The Bills have now lost three straight division games that shows them falling from first to last place in the crowded AFC East. The Bills were outgained 370-168 yards and Trent Edwards threw two interceptions. The defense was on the field for nearly 38 minutes and wore down late giving up a 19 play, 92 yard drive to the clinching touchdown.
The Bills needed to get off to a fast start in their house of demons but did not. The Patriots scored on their first possession on a seven play, 71 yard drive for the only touchdown of the first half. They got the 7-0 lead on a 13 yard scramble by Matt Cassel. New England didn't need breaks as they dominated the Bills all day long but they did get two on their opening scoring drive. A 21 yard catch by Wes Welker should have been called incomplete and the Bills tried to challenge but didn't do it in time as Dick Jauron admitted he needed to get downfield more to get the refs attention. The drive was also helped by a very questionable late hit penalty on the first offensive play of the game. Ko Simpson hit Randy Moss just as the pass sailed past him. The way their defense played that score was almost enough on its own to win the game.
The Bills offense could do nothing as they punted on their first two possession and then Edwards threw an interception on the third series of the half. The defense held and the Patriots had to settle for a field goal and a 10 point lead. The Bills responded somewhat as they put together their best drive of the day, unfortunately it was only a 53 yard drive in 11 plays and ended with a field goal. The couldn't get in the end zone as a third and goal run by Marshawn Lynch went for a loss as the running game continued its struggles.
It could have been worse at halftime but a missed 49 yard field goal kept the Bills down by a touchdown. The Bills couldn't capitalize on the miss, Edwards struggled with his accuracy all half including two straight poor throws to stop the final drive of the half.
It didn't get better in the third quarter as the Patriots moved methodically down field to a field goal drive that gave them a 10 point lead that was pretty insurmountable on this day. That drive took nearly half of the third quarter making the game just like one of those blowouts we are used to when these two teams face off.
They would just nickel and dime the Bills downfield the rest of the day as there always seemed to be an open receiver and Cassel had all day to throw. The Bills didn't even put up a fight offensively while the defense continued to play hard. When Edwards threw his second pick of the day the defense got the ball back thanks to a sack by Marcus Stroud and George Wilson. Stroud knocked the ball loose and Wilson recovered.
The Bills started moving downfield a bit but were stopped thanks to a sack and they never gambled to try and force the big play. On two occasions they punted when it might have been prudent to go for it on 4th down. Of course their best offensive player was Brian Moorman. He had a big day with four of five punts landing inside the 20. He was their best offensive weapon and the only one Dick Jauron trusted on this afternoon. The Bills defense started wearing out as they knew the offense was not going to do anything on this day and that is when they gave up the long drive to the Pats second touchdown, a one yard run by BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The little used rookie free agent finished with 105 yards, most of them on that last big drive.
The Bills did strike back quickly for their only touchdown of the day thanks to an 85 yard kickoff return by Leodis McKelvin followed by a 14 yard touchdown pass to James Hardy but that was the only thing the offense could brag about on this day. Their total lack of production on this day left the banged up defense, that played spirited early, downtrodden and beaten.
The Bills have now lost three straight division game, the 4-0 start seems like an eternity ago. This team will now struggle mightily to even sniff a playoff spot as they have nose dived in the division standings. It's really hard to swallow after things looked so good just three weeks ago. People will say they have three soft games coming up with Cleveland, Kansas City, and San Francisco on the docket over the next three weeks. Right now though the Bills are as soft as they come and are in real danger of falling out of the playoff picture. Those teams may be looking at the Bills as a soft spot in their schedule.
Here are our exclusive gameballs and goats from the Bills game against the Patriots: