Buffalo actually held a lead for nearly all of the second half after rookie quarterback EJ Manuel threw a touchdown to Stevie Johnson on the opening drive of the half. But the Bills went three-and-out when the got the ball with a chance to put the game away in the final five minutes. New England then did what New England does, driving to within field goal range to seize the game in the final five seconds.
The Patriots converted two third downs (of 3 and 8 yards) on that drive, part of a recurring theme that haunted the Bills. New England went 11-of-20 on third downs for the game, which helped it hold the ball for 37:43 and run 89 plays to Buffalo's 61. Buffalo's defense yielded 431 yards and, in spite of forcing three turnovers, couldn't get the vital stops when needed.
"It is devastating. It’s hard," coach Doug Marrone said. "It’s hard because like I said before and I mean this, there is a greater calling. Granted, we put in a lot of work and we’re going to get better, but we know what the people want and we know what the region wants. When we go out there and we have opportunities and you can’t win that game, I’m letting them down, we all are letting people down. We’ll continue to fight, and I can promise you that we will get better."
Buffalo's defense did get a key stop in the third quarter that seemingly gave it all the momentum. The Patriots tried to run it in on fourth-and-goal from the 1, but Buffalo stuffed Brady – who had fumbled the snap – and kept New England off the board.
But the Bills failed to score then or any any other point in spite of several good drive starts and numerous chances to bow the game open. Manuel was good, going 18-of-27 for 150 yards and two touchdowns, but he didn't attempt any deep balls and seemingly stymied the team's strong vertical speed at receiver. The Bills rushed for 136 yards collectively – 67 by Fred Jackson and 41 by C.J. Spiller – but averaged only 4 yards per carry and failed to build any sort of momentum in the first half.
Only a Da'Norris Searcy fumble return for a touchdown halfway through the second quarter kept the Bills in the game. New England scored 10 first-quarter points and was in field goal range prior to his 74-yard scamper. The teams then traded touchdowns to end the half.
Buffalo also kept shooting itself in the foot with penalties. The Bills had 10 flags thrown against them for 75 yards, including a couple that negated key first downs.
"It’s not acceptable. We have officials at every practice, we have to get together as a staff and we’ve got to figure out a way not to have that. We have to look at them and evaluate them first," Marrone said.
Jackaon also led the Bills in receiving, bragging four balls for 41 yards. Brady went 29-of-52 for 288 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Shane Vereen gained 101 yards rushing on only 14 carries. Danny Amendola led the way for the receiving corps. gaining 104 yards on 10 catches.
The Bills host the Carolina Panthers (0-1) next week.
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