AFC East: Bills-Patriots 091409

Most absurd AFC East result: Browns 6, Bills 3

November, 6, 2009
11/06/09
9:28
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

A few days ago, I asked readers to submit their votes for the most absurd AFC East outcome through the first half of 2009.

 
 AP Photo/Mike Groll
 The ugly Buffalo-Cleveland game in Week 5 was a tough loss for Bills fans to endure.
While the comments section beneath that blog quickly turned into a trash-talking session between New York Jets and Miami Dolphins fans, a few readers actually attempted to make cases for the game they felt was supremely ridiculous.

The most compelling cases were made for the Week 5 disaster between the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

That catastrophe deserved to end in a tie, but the Browns won 6-3 thanks to a muffed punt deep in Bills territory in the final minutes. Browns quarterback Derek Anderson completed 2 of 17 passes for 23 yards. His 11.8 percent completion percentage was the second-worst for a winning quarterback since the NFL-AFL merger.

Coming in second was the Indianapolis Colts' 27-23 victory over the Dolphins in Week 2. The Colts became the first team since time of possession became an official stat in 1970 to win while holding the ball for less than 15 minutes. The Colts ran only 35 plays.

Here are some of the better submissions on the subject:

Jesse in Omaha wrote into the AFC East mailbag that the Browns-Bills game "was the lowest point I've had as a fan in a long time. Even if I were a Jets fan during the loss to the lowly Bills, at least I could stand by the fact that the opposing team tried to win the game. I'm not convinced Cleveland wanted to beat Buffalo that day."

In the comments section, glui8 declared the Browns-Bills was, "hands down, the most absurd result. Not only was it the worst football game I've ever seen played, whether it be Pop Warner, high school, college or pro, but the losing team (and this is the reason I'm picking it as the most absurd) got beat by a quarterback that completed two, yes, two passes for a whopping total of 23 yards. THAT IS ABSURD and, in my opinion, is way worse than any of the other games nominated."

DolflyerpacerV316 added: "Gotta be the Browns-Bills game. Seriously, they lost to the Browns? Who does that? How they only scored three on the Browns is the first mystery, but losing to them? That just defines absurd!"

Also in the comments section, mrf042579 weighed in: "I'm going to have to vote for the Colts-Dolphins game. As a Bills fan, I am tempted to vote for any of their games, but in all honesty, how do you lose a game when your opponent runs 35 plays and has the ball less than 15 minutes?"

There was no doubt in stevejdolphin's mind: "It was easily the Dolphins-Colts game. I watched that game, and the way the Dolphins completely controlled the pace of the game while their offense was on the field was incredible. This also needs to be put in perspective with all the coaching changes the Colts had in the off-season. This was the second week of the season, and the Colts had struggled the week before against the Jaguars. They didn't have their second-best receiver in Anthony Gonzalez. For Peyton Manning to pull out a win with everything stacked against him is impossible. It happened and it was without a doubt the most absurd AFC East result."

SportsFan1236 made the case for another game, going with the Dolphins frittering a 21-point first-half lead against the Saints: "They went from dominant to dominated. Sorry, but that was the most pathetic loss of the year. To lose a game in a final minutes is bad, but to lose your momentum and such a huge lead right before half is horrible. Could have beat one of the best teams, if not the best team, in the league and choked it away."

To refresh your memories, here are the thumbnails from the other runners-up:

Week 1: Patriots 25, Bills 24. The Bills don't trail for almost 59 minutes, but Leodis McKelvin fumbles a kickoff inside the final two minutes, setting up Tom Brady with a short field. Brady throws his second touchdown in a span of 1:16 to escape with a dramatic victory.

Week 4: Saints 24, Jets 10. The Jets' offense gives up more points than it scores and more points than its defense allows. The Saints score touchdowns on two of Mark Sanchez's four turnovers.

Week 6: Bills 16, Jets 13 (OT). The Bills allow 318 rushing yards, second-most in Jets history. Thomas Jones runs for the most yards of his career, setting a Jets record. His 210 yards are the fifth most in a defeat since the merger. But the Jets throw six interceptions, five of them by Sanchez.

Week 7: Saints 46, Dolphins 34. The Dolphins hold a 21-point lead for the first 29 minutes of the game but collapse the rest of the way, giving up 24 points in the fourth quarter to become the first team in 22 years to blow a 21-point lead and lose by at least a dozen.

Week 8: Dolphins 30, Jets 25. A sublime Jets defense holds the Dolphins to 104 total yards (third fewest in franchise history) and 1.9 yards per pass attempt. The Dolphins score one offensive touchdown, but two Ted Ginn kickoff returns and a Jason Taylor fumble return -- all in the third quarter -- make the difference.

Take your pick: Most absurd AFC East result

November, 2, 2009
11/02/09
11:01
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Nowhere else in sports have stats been more irrelevant than in the AFC East, where illogical verdicts have been rendered on a near-weekly basis.

The Miami Dolphins have had their share but came out ahead for a change Sunday by gaining 104 yards in a victory over the New York Jets, just the latest in a growing collection of incredible results relative to the box score.

There have been enough of these crazy outcomes to put them up for a vote. Take a look at the seven candidates below and then submit your vote and your reasoning in the comments section below. I will tally them up and compile the most compelling arguments for a blog entry later in the week that reveals your pick for the most absurd game through the first half of the 2009 season.
 
 Geoff Burke/US Presswire
 There have been several outcomes in the AFC East this season, including the Jets’ Week 6 loss to the Bills, that defied statistical probability.


Not sure if this explains anything, but I attended six of the seven games.

Week 1: Patriots 25, Bills 24. The Bills don't trail for almost 59 minutes, but Leodis McKelvin fumbles a kickoff inside the final two minutes, setting up Tom Brady with a short field. Brady throws his second touchdown in a span of 1:16 to escape with a dramatic victory.

Week 2: Colts 27, Dolphins 23. The Colts run only 35 offensive plays because the Dolphins hold the ball for an amazing 45:07. But the Colts average an obnoxious 10.7 yards per snap and 12.3 yards per pass attempt, becoming the first team to win with a recorded time of possession of less than 15 minutes.

Week 4: Saints 24, Jets 10. The Jets' offense gives up more points than it scores and more points than its defense allows. The Saints score touchdowns on two of Mark Sanchez's four turnovers.

Week 5: Browns 6, Bills 3. Browns quarterback Derek Anderson starts, plays the entire game and completes two passes for 23 yards. His 11.8 completion percentage is the second-worst since the NFL-AFL merger for a winning quarterback with at least 15 attempts.

Week 6: Bills 16, Jets 13 (OT). The Bills allow 318 rushing yards, second-most in Jets history. Thomas Jones runs for the most yards of his career, setting a Jets record. His 210 yards are the fifth most in a defeat since the merger. But the Jets throw six interceptions, five of them by Sanchez.

Week 7: Saints 46, Dolphins 34. The Dolphins hold a 21-point lead for the first 29 minutes of the game but collapse the rest of the way, giving up 24 points in the fourth quarter to become the first team in 22 years to blow a 21-point lead and lose by at least a dozen.

Week 8: Dolphins 30, Jets 25. A sublime Jets defense holds the Dolphins to 104 total yards (third fewest in franchise history) and 1.9 yards per pass attempt. The Dolphins score one offensive touchdown, but two Ted Ginn kickoff returns and a Jason Taylor fumble return -- all in the third quarter -- make the difference.

McKelvin scales Buffalo's fan-o-meter

September, 16, 2009
9/16/09
11:25
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


In the span of 48 hours, Leodis McKelvin went from goat to sympathetic figure to venerated in the eyes of Buffalo Bills fans.
 McKelvin


McKelvin was the central figure in the club's most nauseating loss since the Music City Miracle, but the aftermath will make the fans love him even more than had he never made a mistake at all.

Less than two minutes away from pulling off a monumental shocker and snapping an 11-game losing streak to the New England Patriots, he fumbled a kick return to set up another Tom Brady touchdown pass. The Patriots won 25-24.

Fans were furious. A couple of them went to fire, deciding it was a good idea to vandalize McKelvin's front yard in suburban Hamburg. Two years removed from Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor being murdered in his home, McKelvin's teammates were disturbed. Rational-thinking locals were aghast.

On Wednesday, a couple teenagers stepped forth to admit they'd painted the game's final score and, as the Buffalo News reported, "a graphic depiction of the male anatomy" on McKelvin's lawn.

But McKelvin doesn't want to press charges. The second-year cornerback wants to give the kids a break, lesson learned.

How explosive do you think the cheers for McKelvin will be Sunday in Ralph Wilson Stadium?

"I don’t want anybody to be arrested or anything like that," McKelvin said. "Our fans have been great. It’s just one incident, and hopefully it won’t happen anymore. I just don’t want anyone to get arrested."

McKelvin was astounded by the incident.

"Something like that, you don’t expect to see anywhere but on TV on 'Varsity Blues' or something like that," he said. "Me personally, I was mad. I was angry in a way, but I was laughing in a way because of what they put on there. It was just ... There’s no way that it’s ever appropriate."

McKelvin added one of his neighbors came over to mow his grass, removing the obscene message.

A look at Buffalo's culture of losing

September, 16, 2009
9/16/09
5:47
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


Did the great New England Patriots win Monday night, or did the hapless Buffalo Bills lose?

ESPN senior writer Howard Bryant leans hard toward the latter after Tom Brady milked Leodis McKelvin's goat in a stunning 25-24 Patriots victory in Gillette Stadium.

Bryant examines Monday night's finish as a microcosm of the Bills' culture of losing in a column posted Wednesday afternoon.
If Brady and the Patriots have crafted for themselves an aura of confidence, transforming gnawing, admirable persistence into a culture, the Bills have managed something quite the opposite: a suffocating pathology from an organization-wide dynamic of playing losing football by making losing decisions.
Bryant holds up the game-changing play -- McKelvin's decision to run a kickoff out of the end zone with the hands team in front of him and 2:06 on the clock -- as symbolic of the Bills' organizational inadequacies and the shortcomings of head coach Dick Jauron.

McKelvin fumbled, setting up Brady for the winning touchdown pass to Benjamin Watson.
Determining what risks are acceptable is part of the essence of coaching, and if Jauron believes what he said after the game -- that he had "no problem" with the play -- he is directly contributing to the culture that is currently claiming his football team.

Owens urges Edwards to 'take some shots'

September, 16, 2009
9/16/09
3:59
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


Terrell Owens declined to speak in the heat of the moment.
Owens

The Buffalo Bills receiver caught just two passes in Monday night's demoralizing 25-24 loss to the New England Patriots and spun away from reporters in the locker room afterward.

With two days to think about how the game could have gone differently, he acknowledged the Patriots did a good job of eliminating him and Lee Evans from the game, but also urged Bills quarterback Trent Edwards to take more chances.

"There were some opportunities that we missed, and those are some of the things you’re talking about," Owens said. "It's always a work in progress, and Trent has to better assess what he’s seeing out there and take some shots down the field.

"We're going to do that, and by no means was that the reason that we lost the game. There were some opportunities and until the last five minutes, we had the game in the bag. That really wasn’t that case.

"Obviously, we didn’t utilize myself and Lee as much as we would like, but we still had the game won."

Report: Pats look into signing Mayo's idol

September, 16, 2009
9/16/09
12:22
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


Jerod Mayo might get replaced by his idol.

The New England Patriots are considering free-agent linebacker Derrick Brooks to fill in for Mayo, reports Ian R. Rapoport of the Boston Herald.

"They're kicking it around," an unnamed source told Rapoport.

Mayo suffered a sprained right knee in the first quarter of Monday night's miraculous victory over the Buffalo Bills and will be out for a few games. The Boston Globe, citing two unnamed sources, reported the reigning NFL defensive rookie of the year could miss six to eight weeks.

Adding Brooks would provide Mayo another resource to lean on after losing veterans Tedy Brushi, Mike Vrabel, Richard Seymour and Rodney Harrison.

Brooks is a five-time All-Pro who hasn't been able to find work after 14 seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He started 16 games last year and made his 11th Pro Bowl squad.

Mayo had this to say about Brooks in a feature story by the Boston Globe's Jackie MacMullen that ran Sunday: "He's a complete player, an impact player. That's what I’m after."

In this case, Brooks would be after Mayo.

AFC East accumulating sidelinebackers

September, 16, 2009
9/16/09
9:13
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


One week into the season, all four AFC East clubs are missing an important linebacker.

The Miami Dolphins and New York Jets opened the season each knowing they would be without a starting outside linebacker.

The New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills lost their best inside linebackers for a few weeks because of injuries suffered Monday night in Gillette Stadium.

Let's take a look at each void and who is filling it.
Mayo

New England Patriots

Analysis: The Patriots aren't as forthcoming with injury information as other teams, so we don't know for sure how long Mayo will be sidelined, but his absence will hurt.

The Boston Globe's Monique Walker and Christopher L. Gasper, citing two unnamed sources, report Mayo suffered a sprained medial-collateral ligament. Sources differed on the length of Mayo's recovery time, with eight weeks the longest estimate.

The Patriots turned over the defense, losing four significant leaders to retirement or trades. Mayo's importance in the transition was underscored by the fact his teammates elected him a defensive captain.

Mayo is the reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year for amassing 139 tackles.

Guyton and Thomas filled in for Mayo on Monday night but were shaky.
Posluszny

Buffalo Bills

  • Who's down? Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny.
  • Why? Broken left arm.
  • How long? Six to eight weeks (updated)
  • Who steps in? Marcus Buggs.
Analysis: What's up, Doc? That's what the Bills are asking because Buggs doesn't play anything like Posluszny.

The injury Posluszny suffered in the second quarter Monday night is similar to the one that ended his rookie season after three games in 2007. But this occurrence, while it required surgery Wednesday, it isn't as serious. Bills coach Dick Jauron said the Bills hope Posluszny will be back on the field by the season's midpoint.

Posluszny, the Butkus Award winner at Penn State four years ago, is a Bills captain. He led them with 129 tackles last year. He also had an interception, a forced fumble and a recovery.

It's a potentially season-changing blow to the lineup.
Pace

New York Jets

Analysis: Pace is serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances and can't even hang out at the Jets facility.

Considering how they manhandled the Houston Texans on Sunday, the Jets did just fine without Pace and defensive end Shaun Ellis, who served a one-game suspension for getting busted with marijuana.

Gholston made four tackles, including one for a loss, but he's not even close to the player Pace is. Pace was a hellion last year, recording seven sacks, 12 tackles for losses and five forced fumbles.

The Jets proved they can make so without him, but they'll be even scarier when he returns.
Roth

Miami Dolphins

  • Who's down? Outside linebacker Matt Roth.
  • Why? Groin -- we think.
  • How long? Six weeks.
  • Who's in? Jason Taylor.
Analysis: This is the least significant of the four situations because Roth wouldn't have been an every-down player anyway, and his replacement is one of the greatest defenders in team history.

Roth, last year's starter on the strong side, arrived at training camp with what was first called an illness but was later classified a groin injury. He also wanted a new contract. Regardless, he didn't practice with the team. The Dolphins placed Roth on the injured list, meaning the soonest he must sit out the first six games.

The intention when Taylor signed with Miami was to use him on passing downs. Now the 35-year-old is playing almost every down. He recorded a sack in the season opener.

Isolated stupidity shouldn't paint all Bills fans

September, 16, 2009
9/16/09
2:57
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


Based on the text messages that lit up my cell phone Monday night after the Buffalo Bills' retching 25-24 loss to the New England Patriots, I knew Leodis McKelvin wasn't going to be a popular man in Western New York this week.

But never would I have thought some Bills zealots would make it personal.
Elsa/Getty Images
Some Bills fans went too far in reaction to Leodis McKelvin’s fumble.

The Buffalo News and the Associated Press report vandals left a message on the front lawn of McKelvin's home in suburban Hamburg, N.Y., because he committed a crucial turnover in the final two minutes to help the Patriots pull off a stunning comeback victory.

As someone who has covered sports in Buffalo for almost a decade and is moving back to the area because of the people, I can state that Bills fans are some of the most respectful and passionate supporters I've ever encountered.

This is a region that chanted "We love Scott! We love Scott!" the day after Scott Norwood missed the field goal that would have won the Super Bowl.

"I've got to tell you right now that we're struggling with this right now," Norwood said, fighting through tears at City Hall in January 1991. "I know I've never felt more loved than this right now.

"We all realize the sun's going to come up tomorrow."

McKelvin's not feeling the love these days.

But McKelvin manned up after the game and faced reporters -- unlike Terrell Owens. Several teammates and Bills chief operating officer Russ Brandon buoyed McKelvin with forgiving embraces in the locker room.

But one or more mental midgets used white paint to spell out the game's final score and draw, according to the Buffalo News, "a graphic depiction of the male anatomy."

Ho ho! They sure zinged him!

It was a scene straight out of "All the Right Moves," when Coach Nickerson had his yard vandalized by the townies after a tough loss.

Bills linebacker Kawika Mitchell tweeted: "Its def not a game to b playin. W/ all the safety issues n the NFL its not funny at all. We have Fam at our homes to protect. If u show ur face on my prop Ill make sure I do everythin to keep my Fam safe."

Way to go, morons. Now you have players firing off warning shots.

This type of attention is not what the Bills needed. They've missed the playoffs nine years running, have gone 7-9 three straight seasons and are known for running their team on the cheap. Now people outside the area will think their fans are kooks.

What a marketing brochure that would be for prospective free agents.

The thing is, Buffalo's diehards have been the team's greatest selling point. The club sold 55,000 season tickets this year despite all the futility. Fans traveled to Canton in droves to see owner Ralph Wilson and defensive end Bruce Smith inducted last month.

The mark this incident leaves on the fan base will last much longer than whatever was on McKelvin's lawn.

But whoever perpetrated the sophomoric crime probably was stupid enough to brag about it. Here's hoping they get caught and receive the best punishment I can think of: having their pictures put on television so they can be humiliated in a very public way.

Maybe then they'll understand what it's like to make a mistake on national television.

As for the rest of Buffalo's fans, I have faith in them.

I'd love to see the Bills introduce their defense before Sunday's home opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to give the sellout crowd a chance to make amends.

T.O. muted on, off field

September, 15, 2009
9/15/09
8:32
AM ET

Elsa/Getty Images
Receiver Terrell Owens did not get off to a great start with the Bills. Owens was targeted on only three of Trent Edwards' 25 pass attempts.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Terrell Owens wasn't in a talkative mood after his Buffalo Bills suffered an esophagus-twisting 25-24 defeat to the New England Patriots on Monday night.

"You're all wasting your time," Owens said as he wheeled away from a crowd of reporters gathered at his locker stall. "I don't have nothing to say."

Owens was silent on the field, too. But the guy can't fling the ball to himself.

Bills quarterback Trent Edwards threw to Owens only three times. Owens caught two balls for 46 yards.

ESPN Stats & Information dug around and discovered Monday night was only the third game since 2000 that Owens was targeted so infrequently. He was thrown to three times against the Cincinnati Bengals in October 2008 and against the Kansas City Chiefs in November 2000.

In his two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, they targeted him an average of 8.5 times a game.

"Give a lot of credit to their defense," Edwards said. "They're well-coached, a well-oiled machine on that side of the ball.

"Those guys were sitting back there pretty deep, and a lot of the times we're going to look to the interior guys, getting Josh [Reed] and getting Roscoe [Parrish] and getting Derek Schouman the ball.

"I need to look and film and see where I can take my shots and when I can't."

Edwards' favorite option was running back Fred Jackson. Edwards threw his way seven times, connecting on five receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown.

Patriots receiver Randy Moss, meanwhile, had one of the better nights of his career. Moss caught 12 passes, tying a career-high, for 141 yards.

With the Patriots' triumph, Moss now is 3-2 against Owens.

Brady calm and deadly in comeback game

September, 15, 2009
9/15/09
2:22
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Right after the Buffalo Bills expanded their lead over the New England Patriots to 11 points with 5:32 left in Monday night's game, the flat-screen TVs in the Gillette Stadium press box showed a shot of Tom Brady and Randy Moss on the sideline.
Brady vs. Buffalo's Defensive Formations
-- vs. Base vs. 5+ DB
Comp-Att 5-7 34-46
Pass yds. 70 308
TD-Int 0-1 2-0
Passer Rtg. 63.7 106.1

What struck me is how emotionless they looked, almost apathetic, disconnected from the growing likelihood they would suffer a colossal upset loss at home and in front of a national audience.

But maybe Brady and Moss knew something nobody else did.

"We just had to settle down and focus and have that tunnel vision," Moss said of that moment.

Brady's legacy was cemented long ago, but his performance in the closing minutes of New England's season-opening 25-24 victory added to his long list of amazing memories.

"You see Tom coming off the sideline and he comes into the huddle, talking about 'We're going to win this game,' " Moss said. "And when you have guys like that saying positive things and then going out there and making it happen, you have to have your hopes high and really think positive."

Brady, in his first game back since having two knee ligaments reattached, orchestrated two touchdown drives, the second courtesy of Leodis McKelvin's fumble on the kickoff return in between.

Get this: Brady completed 12 of 14 passes for 112 yards and two touchdown tosses to Benjamin Watson.

Moss, speaking to reporters for the first time since May, was asked if there was another quarterback "more clutch" than Brady.

"No, man," Moss said. "Ya’ll seen it. I don't have to speak on it. What else do you want me to say? We play some great situational football, and Coach Belichick puts us through it week in and week out.
Brady vs. Bills
-- First 8 Drives Last 2 Drives
Comp-Att 27-39 12-14
Pass yds. 266 112
TD-Int 0-1 2-0
Passer Rtg. 77.5 139.6

"We started off a little slow and in a certain sense, it looked like we were trying to feel our way through it. And once we started playing a little bit more, especially after halftime, I think we settled down and really started executing our game plan."

Moss tied a career-high with 12 receptions (nine in the second half) for 141 yards. It was the 60th 100-yard game of Moss' career, second all-time to Jerry Rice's 76.

"The main thing I can go home and hang my hat on is the victory," Moss said. "We did some good things out there, but I think coach is really going to give it to us Wednesday about the things we did out there."

Fans need to settle down after Monday night

September, 15, 2009
9/15/09
1:45
AM ET
Elsa/Getty Images
Buffalo's Aaron Schobel takes down New England quarterback Tom Brady on Monday. Bills fans have reason to be optimistic despite the loss.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In Gillette Stadium on Monday night, the only absolute was on the scoreboard.
'MNF' Coverage
BILLS-PATRIOTS

Recap: Patriots rally
• Graham: Brady is clutch
• Bryant: Pats squeak by Bills
• Mike Reiss' Patriots blog

CHARGERS-RAIDERS

Recap: Chargers gut it out

Williamson: Sneaky Chargers


New England Patriots 25, Buffalo Bills 24.

The Patriots pulled off an astonishing victory, even by their standards. The Bills suffered an eviscerating defeat, even by their standards.

Yet there was more to this game than the way it ended, with Tom Brady throwing two touchdown passes in the final 126 seconds to extend the Patriots' winning streak to a dozen games over the hapless Bills.

It's what the Patriots do. They call upon their experience to coolly pick apart an opponent when the game is on the line.
Brady vs. Bills
-- First 8 Drives Last 2 Drives
Comp-Att 27-39 12-14
Pass yds. 266 112
TD-Int 0-1 2-0
Passer Rtg. 77.5 139.6

It's what the Bills do. They make the universal hand gesture for "Hey, I need the Heimlich maneuver over here!"

Before fans for either team jump to any conclusions, however, let us stop for a few moments to pull the excitement and the despair a little back toward middling mellowness.

Patriots fans might want to hold off on asking their bosses for vacation time in February and booking those airline reservations for Miami.

Bills fans should refrain from giving their season tickets a Viking funeral on Lake Erie.

"It would have been huge," Bills linebacker Kawika Mitchell said of a win. "This is a team that's been successful against us since 2003. We didn't win a division game last year. We would have liked to start off winning one, especially here on Monday night.

"But it's not as big [for the Patriots]. It's not as bad as it looks for us. It's terrible right now, but we're 0-1. We've got move on from it. We've got 15 more games. The faster we can move on, the better we are."

With that, here are five reasons not to get too depressed if you're a fan of the star-crossed Bills and five reasons not get carried away if you follow the blessed Patriots.

Cheer up, Bills fans.

New offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt put together a game plan that was good enough to win.

The Bills on Monday night were everything they couldn't be in the preseason. Van Pelt put together a game plan in 10 days that looked like it was taken from a secret book on how to beat the Patriots.

Edwards completed 15 of 25 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns despite connecting with Terrell Owens only twice for 46 yards. Edwards was in command. The offense committed zero turnovers and converted several critical third downs.

Some defensive lapses and Leodis McKelvin fumbling a kickoff inside the two-minute warning -- not the maligned offense -- doomed them.

"There is still a lot to gain from this game, still a lot of positives," Edwards said. "I'm not one of those moral victory guys after a tough loss, but we need to do a good job of regrouping. We need to do a good job of taking the positives away from this game.

"Unfortunately, you're up 11 and don't win the game with five minutes left. I've been in that position before. The feeling stinks, but we have another game Sunday."

The young offensive line played better than anyone expected.

Buffalo's front five went into the game with three players who'd never played an NFL game and a total of 56 career starts. They didn't embarrass themselves.

Left tackle Demetrius Bell had an awful game from a penalty standpoint. He was whistled four times, twice for an illegal formation, once for holding and once for a false start. But he and rookie guards Eric Wood and Andy Levitre kept Edwards upright for most of the evening.

"I really think we need to focus on how well the offensive line played tonight," Edwards said. "There were times I was standing in the pocket, taking two, three, four hitches and still no one was touching me.

"That's a lot of the reason we're converting on third downs. We're seeing their pressures, seeing their defense. We're prepared for their defense."

Aaron Schobel's presence changes Buffalo's defensive demeanor.

Schobel missed the last 11 games last year because of a foot injury. The two-time Pro Bowler reminded everybody what he could do when he bulled past Patriots left tackle Matt Light for a 10-yard sack and made a fabulous play to intercept a Brady screen pass and return it 26 yards for a touchdown. Schobel had two quarterback hits and two pass defenses.

Bills linebacker Paul Posluszny might have avoided serious injury.

Posluszny missed his rookie season because of a broken forearm. He left Monday night's game in the first half and didn't return. We later learned from Bills coach Dick Jauron -- hold your applause, Bills fans -- that Posluszny has a broken bone in his arm.

"It's not as bad as it was the first time," Jauron said. Posluszny could miss a few weeks, but his injury doesn't appear to be a season-ender.

Jauron didn't have a postgame update on defensive end Chris Kelsay, who left the game late in the second quarter with a knee injury and wasn't seen again.

Check your enthusiasm, Pats fans.

Inside linebacker Jerod Mayo went down with a knee injury in the first quarter and didn't play again.

The Patriots went into Monday night with a defense that had been gutted. Gone were defensive lineman Richard Seymour, linebackers Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel and safety Rodney Harrison. That's a lot of hardware there.

The defense was being turned over to emerging leaders like Mayo, last year's defensive rookie of the year. If the Patriots lose him for any significant amount of time, their defense will be spread even thinner.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said after the game there was no update on Mayo's status.

"You just have to step up," Patriots linebacker Pierre Woods said of Mayo's injury. "Everyone has to play. No mistakes. Correct your mistakes."

The Patriots defense couldn't get off the field.

Mayo's absence didn't help, but the Bills offense controlled the second half -- when they had the ball. On the Bills' last drive of the third quarter and first drive of the fourth, they combined for 21 plays and 99 yards, held the ball for 9 minutes, 36 seconds.

The long possessions ended with a field goal and a touchdown to give the Bills an 11-point lead with 5:32 to play.

On the touchdown drive, the Bills converted third downs of 15, 3 and 8 yards that should have sealed the game if not for a crazy play.

"I was just thinking 'When is this team going to actually start playing, play like we do going against each other every day, play like we do in practice?' " said Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather, who made the initial hit on McKelvin to begin the chain reaction on the game-changing fumble.

The Patriots' stable of backs rushed for only 64 yards.

The Patriots couldn't get much going on the ground. Laurence Maroney ran 10 times for 32 yards, both team-highs. Fred Taylor ran nine times for 25 yards. Take away Brady's 9-yard scramble, and the Patriots averaged 2.9 yards a carry.

Where was Joey Galloway?

The Patriots failed to get their new receiver involved in the offense. Sure, Randy Moss went off for 12 catches and 141 yards. But the Patriots will need to find a way to get the ball to Galloway. Brady threw at Galloway twice, but they couldn't connect.

Quite simply, the Patriots can't get down by two scores at home to a team like the Bills.

"We came back and made the plays we had to make to win," Belichick said. We certainly don't want to put ourselves in that position very often. That's not what we're trying to do.

"But whatever it was they dealt with it and made some smart plays at the end. I wish we would have played like that earlier in the game."video

Breaking down the game-changing play

September, 15, 2009
9/15/09
12:17
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


My new ESPN.com teammate, former Boston Globe reporter Mike Reiss, worked the New England Patriots locker room after Monday night's 25-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills in Gillette Stadium.

Reiss, now the anchor tenant at ESPNBoston.com, wove together a fantastic first-person account of the game-changing play: Bills kick returner Leodis McKelvin's crucial fumble with a couple minutes left in the game.

I particularly enjoy Pierre Woods' reaction to McKelvin's decision to bring it out of the end zone.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady converted the turnover into a game-winning 16-yard strike to Benjamin Watson with 50 seconds to play.

Rapid Reaction: Patriots 25, Bills 24

September, 14, 2009
9/14/09
10:16
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Could you have fathomed this?

Unless you hail from the 716 area code, I'm pretty sure you didn't believe it was possible the Buffalo Bills could hang with the New England Patriots for 58 minutes.

In fact, you probably have to be from the 716 to have seen the miserable end coming.

Only the Bills could have lost the way they did Monday night.

The Bills looked like they were going to open their season with a shocking victory in Gillette Stadium. They were up by 11 points deep into the fourth quarter. Then they choked.

Leodis McKelvin fielded a kickoff in the end zone with 2:06 to play and brought it out. Patriots safety Brandon Merriweather stripped him. The Patriots recovered. Brady threw a 16-yard strike to tight end Benjamin Watson, who made a phenomenal catch for a heart-pounding 25-24 triumph.

It's the same exact score the Bills lost to the Dallas Cowboys by after blowing a huge lead on "Monday Night Football" in October 2007.

Brady made his comeback a memorable one. Playing in his first game in a year and a day, he completed 39 of 53 passes for 378 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

The Bills, who seemed to be in such a state of chaos mere days ago, somehow composed themselves to nearly knock off Las Vegas' favorites to win the Super Bowl.

Buffalo coach Dick Jauron handed the playbook to new offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt 10 days earlier to jolt a listless group that had struggled mightily in the preseason.

The first unit failed to score a touchdown on 16 preseason possessions, but it looked OK on opening night. The Bills caught some breaks -- defensive end Aaron Schobel returned Brady's lone mistake for a touchdown -- and played well aside from some offensive line sloppiness.

Bills quarterback Trent Edwards looked sharp (15 of 25 for 212 yards and two touchdowns). The Bills were incredible when it came to converting third downs.

The loss ruined a great game by Buffalo running back Fred Jackson. He ran 15 times for 57 yards and made five catches for 80 yards and a touchdown.

Bills lose DE Kelsay for the night

September, 14, 2009
9/14/09
9:28
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Buffalo Bills have lost another defensive starter.

Defensive end Chris Kelsay, injured late in the second quarter, is out of the game with a knee injury. He will not return.

The Bills also are missing middle linebacker Paul Posluszny because of an arm injury.

I will provide injury updates after the game.

Mayo, Posluszny both out of the game

September, 14, 2009
9/14/09
9:06
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Both inside linebackers have been knocked out of Monday night's game between the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium.

Bills middle man Paul Posluszny is out of the game with an arm injury and will not return.

Last year's top defensive rookie, Jerod Mayo, left the game in the first half with a knee injury. His return has been announced as questionable.

On another note, Patriots receiver Randy Moss caught his 851st pass in the third quarter, tying him with Irving Fryar (who is in attendance) for 13th on the all-time receptions list.

He also has amassed over 100 yards for the 60th game of his career, second only to Jerry Rice.

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