Sunday, December 26, 2010
Halftime thoughts from Patriots at Bills
By Tim Graham
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Some halftime thoughts from Ralph Wilson Stadium, where the New England Patriots lead the Buffalo Bills 24-3:
- New England has 163 rushing yards. BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead each have at least 66 yards already.
- The out-of-town scoreboard isn't helping the Bills much. The New York Jets lead the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, maintaining the Patriots' importance for beating the Bills.
- The Bills have had their moments, but didn't seize opportunities. On an impressive opening drive, the Bills had to settle for a field goal. Ryan Fitzpatrick made an astute audible call and lobbed a nice pass into the end zone for Steve Johnson, who couldn't get his feet down in bounds. Johnson also failed to come down with what would have been a nice catch on the next play.
- Bills running back Fred Jackson has eight carries for 61 yards, with 27 coming on the first play.
- Fitzpatrick demonstrated his risk-reward tendencies on the third drive. Rather than take a first-down sack at the Patriots' 20-yard line, Fitzpatrick fumbled while trying to unload a pass. The Patriots recovered and eventually converted the turnover into seven points for a 14-3 lead. Fitzpatrick threw a bad interception right before halftime.
- Patriots linebacker Gary Guyton had the strip sack. He's compiling a nice season and has stepped up with rookie starter Brandon Spikes suspended for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances.
- Rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski knows how to stage a homecoming. The suburban Buffalo native had a 23-yard reception and scored an 8-yard touchdown on a drive early in the second quarter. He should've had a 77-yard touchdown on the Patriots' first play of the game, breaking wide open up the seam. Tom Brady underthrew him for an incompletion. Gronkowski, who played in Pittsburgh his senior year of high school, had three TD catches at Heinz Field in Week 10.
- The Patriots are holding off the Bills' pass rush just fine without right guard Dan Connolly (concussion). Brady has 23 seconds to pass every time he's in the pocket.
- Woodhead, the greatest player out of Chadron State since former Bills receiver Don Beebe, ripped a 29-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
- Brady avoided throwing an interception on his 15 attempts. He needs three more to break Bernie Kosar's record of 308 consecutive passes without an interception.