Bills Fall Short In New England 37-31
End Zone Interception thwarts comeback bid for Bills.
by Steve Saslow
Ryan Fitzpatrick's interception in the end zone by Devin McCourty with :23 left stopped the Bills comeback effort as they never caught up to New England in a 37-31 wild loss. The team continues their run of futility in New England as they never have won at Gillette Stadium. Fitzpatrick had a solid day throwing for 337 yards and two touchdown passes to Scott Chandler and Donald Jones. The defense struggled stopping the Patriots but did a better job against them in the final quarter holding them to two field goals giving the Bills a chance to win. Buffalo trailed by two touchdowns three different times before mounting a comeback. They made many mistakes as they were called for way too many penalties to go along with three turnovers and that was too much to overcome even with 481 total yards on offense. Fred Jackson ran for two touchdowns but fumbled twice losing one at the goal line also hurting the comeback bid. He had 115 total yards while C.J. Spiller had 131 total yards. Tom Brady threw for 237 yards and two touchdowns while they also had two scores on the ground.
The Turning Point:
The Interception: Fitzpatrick's interception that ended the game was also the turning point. T.J. Graham and Fitz seemed to have a miscommunication as it appeared that the rookie ran the wrong way and the pass was easily intercepted.
The Big Drive:
The Patriots Final Drive: It ended with a field goal but it was the difference of the game as the Bills were forced to go for the touchdown in the final seconds.
Stat I Did Like:
1st Half Offense: The Bills ran up 229 yards offensively in the first half but were still trailing by a touchdown at halftime.
Stat I Didn't Like:
There are two this week:
Penalties: The Bills were called for 14 penalties for 148 yards which led directly to two Patriot touchdowns. Many of the penalties were highly questionable but they need to be more disciplined. The 119 yards in penalties in the first half were the most in the NFL in the first half since 1995.
Red Zone Offense 4th Quarter: They had three possessions in the red zone in the final quarter scored one touchdown and turned the ball over twice.
- Chris Kelsay was inactive with a neck injury suffered in practice on Thursday.
- The Patriots won the toss and elected to defer so the Bills got the ball first. They changed their minds after picking which side they wanted to defend.
- The Bills were called for three consecutive penalties on their first possession. Lee Smith was called for a false start penalty on a 3rd and 1. The Bills than converted the 3rd and 6 but it was called back on a holding penalty by Cordy Glenn. Kraig Urbik completed the trifecta but jumping on the next snap. The Bills punted one play later.
- In the first quarter the Bills committed six penalties in all, dropped two interceptions, and lost a fumble. They were lucky to be down only 10-0.
- Only the Bills would lose two timeouts because of injuries when trying to drive for winning score. That is what happened when Donald Jones and Fred Jackson went down in the final drive.
- After the game, Fitzpatrick called Brandon Spikes a punk for a cheap shot helmet to helmet hit he made on him. Spikes was called for a penalty and will likely be fined.
Key Matchup Results:
The winners of the battles highlighted in our preview article:
LT Cordy Glenn vs. DE Chandler Jones: Winner: Jones. Glenn struggled all day with blocking and penalties.
DE Mario Williams vs. RT Sebastian Vollmer: Winner: Vollmer. Williams made one good play that I saw.
RB C.J. Spiller vs. LB Jerod Mayo: Winner: Spilller (and Jackson). The Bills running game did real well against one of the better run defenses in the league.
LB Kelvin Sheppard vs. RB Stevan Ridley: Winner: Ridley. He had 98 yards rushing and a touchdown.
Keys To The Game Results:
How the keys highlighted in our preview article turned out:
1. Play With Confidence: Success! They played with more confidence as the game went on especially on offense.
2. Finish The Game Strong: Success! Yes they lost on an interception in the end zone but they never laid down and died. The played to the final whistle and almost pulled it out.
3. Run Spiller: Failure! He had a great game but only nine carries. Not enough.
Any Bills fan would have taken the hand that was dealt. All the penalties, all the questionable calls, and the poor play by the defense most of the game left them with a chance to win it in the end. The result was all too familiar especially in a game against New England. The interception deflated the Bills but there is good that came out of this heartbreaker, they played to the very end and didn't back down from the big, bad Patriots. Is that enough to hang your hat on? Probably not knowing that with six losses the playoff drought is almost certain to continue.
The Bills and Dolphins have a short week to prepare for their prime time matchup at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Thursday night. This begins a streak of four home games (including one in Toronto) in the next five weeks.
Ryan Fitzpatrick - The last interception wasn't his fault. He played his best game of the year until that pass completing 27 of 40 passes for 337 yards.
C.J. Spiller - He had 135 total yards including 70 yards on just 9 carries and 61 yards receiving.
Fred Jackson - Going to ignore the fumbles for a minute and speak of his hard running for 80 yards on 16 carries and 35 yards receiving.
Mario Williams - They got him to beat Brady and Brady didn't even know he was on the field.
Offensive Line - Gave up three sacks and five penalties.
Defensive Backs - Way too many penalties by this unit.
Player Of The Week
C.J. Spiller - He needs to be on the field more. End of discussion.
Positional Breakdown and Grades
Patriots Game Preview