Taking a look at the television copy of Sunday's game against the Bills and offering some second quarter observations:
1) The Bills using S Bryan Scott in more of an in-the-box, linebacker-type role continued to pay off into the second quarter. On a first-and-10 run by Danny Woodhead, Scott came off the backside and used his speed to undercut a block from RT Nate Solder, taking Woodhead down for a short gain. Scott also was used in coverage on WR Wes Welker, giving a speed boost over what would typically be a linebacker trying to follow Welker underneath. Without any power running game to speak of, Scott's lack of size as a linebacker wasn't exploited by the Patriots. Late in the quarter, Scott would demonstrate his athleticism by diving over Woodhead on a flat pattern to intercept a bobbled catch.
2) One of Bills RB Fred Jackson's better runs of the day came early in the second quarter, an 11-yard gain. On the play, WLB Jerod Mayo shot the backside 'A' gap, but found himself out-of-position as Jackson cut back behind a block on Mayo from TE Scott Chandler. On the playside, DT Vince Wilfork and MLB Brandon Spikes both got sealed by blockers, leaving SS Sergio Brown to cover the backside hole on the cutback. Brown and FS Josh Barrett both played the inside part of the field, allowing Jackson to shift outside, breaking Brown's tackle before gaining the first down.
3) The Patriots were gashed again in the running game later in the quarter, on a 21-yard gain by Jackson. Double-teams on Wilfork and DT Kyle Love were particularly effective here, driving both defenders off the line and away from the run. While Mayo filled the backside hole, Spikes was blocked out by C Eric Wood, peeling off the Love block. This left Barrett to come down from the middle of the field, but he took a bad angle at Jackson and put forth more of a shoulder dive than any attempt to wrap-up Jackson. Brown was also hesitant, coming down into the box before the play but only slowly jogging downfield as Jackson stormed through the middle of the line, right past Brown.
4) Before Bills WR Stevie Johnson's touchdown reception late in the second quarter, the Bills sent Chandler in motion from the right slot to the left wing, essentially isolating McCourty on the right side of the field. Barrett already had the half of the field over the two receivers already on the left side of the field, and with Brown following Chandler in motion (man coverage); it left McCourty with no safety help on his side of the field. Johnson put a quick move on the inside of the field, and with an inside slant a legitimate threat at this part of the field, McCourty bit on the fake. As was the case last week against the Chargers, once McCourty got turned around, he had trouble catching up with the receiver and finding/playing the ball.
5) The Bills continued to target McCourty on their final drive of the half, including two straight completions to WR Donald Jones. The first came as McCourty over-ran Jones' route down the sideline, and the second came as McCourty was in tight coverage but was unable to get his hand around Jones to break up the pass on a hook pattern. These two completions put the Bills in field goal position, the resulting field goal ended up being the difference in the final score.