Sunday, September 26, 2010
Wrap-up: Patriots 38, Bills 30
By Tim Graham
What it means: The Buffalo Bills gave the New England Patriots a good scare and plenty to think about. The Bills led three times and were within a touchdown and a two-point conversion on their final drive. But the Patriots' offense was too tough to get into a shootout with. Their winning streak over the Bills increases to 14 games.
What I liked: The Bills showed life after a demoralizing 0-2 start. Ryan Fitzpatrick gave the offense a jolt, helping it score one fewer point in the first half than the Trent Edwards-led offense was able to generate in eight quarters. The Bills averaged 176 yards in each of their first two games. They had 202 by halftime Sunday. Fitzpatrick did throw two frustrating interceptions, but his overall play is what gave the Bills a shot to be competitive.
For at least this week, the Patriots coped well without running back Kevin Faulk, who's out for the year with a knee injury. Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis each broke off a touchdown run. They combined for 19 carries and 150 yards. Faulk's absence wasn't evident in pass protection either.
What I didn't like: New England's defense is in trouble. Fitzpatrick replacing Edwards isn't like Steve Young replacing an aging Joe Montana. New England's defense had difficulty stopping Buffalo's run game and pass game. Think about that. The Patriots surrendered 374 yards, more than double what the Bills averaged their first two games.
The Bills' pass defense didn't perform as though it's a strength. Tom Brady was 21 of 27 for 252 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Not helping was a virtually non-existent pass rush. Aaron Maybin, last year's 11th overall draft pick, continues to be a colossal disappointment. Kyle Williams recorded Buffalo's first sack late in the fourth quarter.
Breakout: Bills rookie running back C.J. Spiller finally made his presence felt -- and in a huge way. After two games as a non-factor, he scored his first two NFL touchdowns. He scored on a 5-yard slip screen in the second quarter and a 95-yard kickoff return in the third quarter.
Breakout II: In his third NFL season, Woodhead scored his first touchdown. The New York Jets didn't have room for the popular running back and cut him last week. In his Patriots debut, he scampered 22 yards for a second-quarter score.
Big revelation: Marshawn Lynch has emerged as Chan Gailey's preferred running back. He started again and had 13 carries for 79 yards. Fred Jackson ran four times for 8 yards.
What's next: The Bills complete their first tour of the AFC East by hosting the Jets next Sunday afternoon. The Patriots will visit the Miami Dolphins on "Monday Night Football."