The Bills have enough troubles beating the Patriots but they didn't need three old problems to rear their ugly heads to help New England to a 13th straight win over the Bills 17-10. Penalties, sacks, and a Josh Reed dropped pass were deja vu moments. Two pass interference penalties setup the two Patriots touchdowns in the first half. Penalties and sacks short circuited most Bills offensive possessions and the execution was very poor as well. Reed's critical fourth down drop with less than five minutes to go cost the Bills a chance at pulling within a touchdown. They did score with 3:02 remaining on a pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Lee Evans. Fitzpatrick was back in after being benched for Trent Edwards who would promptly leave the game with an ankle injury. The Bills had a chance when they recovered an onsides kick but ironically Aaron Maybin was offsides. They were called for 11 penalties for 124 yards. Many of those penalties were on offensive linemen who also gave up six sacks.
The Turning Point:
It's hard to call it a turning point since it happened just before the two minute warning but it is a microcosm of the Bills season. The Patriots had a 3rd and 6 from their 32 yard line. A stop and the Bills have at least a chance but Tom Brady hits Wes Welker for eight yards and they run out the clock.
The Big Drive:
The Patriots eight play, 64 yard drive just before halftime to, for all intent and purposes, put the game away. Brady completed passes of 14 yards to Wes Welker and 16 yards to Randy Moss on the drive. Laurence Mulroney took it in from one yard out. A 21 yard questionable pass interference call on Reggie Corner setup the score.
Stat of the Game:
1st Half Penalties: The Bills were called for eight of them for 104 yards. That is the most penalty yards in a half by any NFL team this year. It was also the main reason they were trailing 14-3 at halftime.
What You Don't See On The Stat Sheet:
The two pass interference penalties: They setup both of the Patriots first half touchdown. The first one was on Donte Whitner the second one was the questionable call on Corner. That outweighed that the Bills led in time of possession and total yards in the first half.
- The Bills had a plan to run it with a combination of Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch and were successful on the opening drive until another penalty pulled a touchdown off the board forcing the Bills to settle for three.
- That FG drive was 9:24 and was the longest scoring drive of the year for the Bills clock wise.
- Tom Brady did not complete a pass in the first quarter. His first completion was a 13 yard touchdown pass to Randy Moss 2:26 into the second quarter.
- It was one of those games that the referees decided they were going to take control of early. The Bills did commit many infractions but some of the calls were very suspect including the pass interference penalty in the end zone on Corner. It was incidental contact and the linesman closest to the play didn't call it. The call came from across the field. The refs never do the Bills any favor against the Patriots.
It was the type of low scoring, ugly, boring game I expected to see. Unfortunately, the outcome was exactly what I expected as well another Bills loss. What was disheartning about it was that the Bills seemed to take many steps back with more penalties, sacks, poor execution, and lack of passion. They were never really in the game in the second half despite winning the battle in the stat game. This does drive the point even further that they do need a full house cleaning on January 4th.
The Bills make a rare trip to Atlanta to take on the Falcons who have had a disappointing year as well. The Bills are offically playing for pride after being officially eliminated from the playoff picture.