Last night certainly had a different feel than most people were expecting and all that credit falls on the Bills. For 55 minutes Buffalo’s no huddle offense and bend but don’t break defense stymied the Patriots. Seemingly all-night the Patriots were just a little off their game. Brady would have Moss or Welker open in the flat but for whatever reason they just couldn’t connect. In the mean time the Patriots defense was having a terrible time adjusting to Trent Edwards no huddle offense. With consistent two-man coverage on Lee Evans and Terrell Owens, Fred Jackson exposed the Patriots out of the backfield. Jackson had a banner night rushing 15 times for 57 yards and adding five receptions for 83 yards and what appeared to be a game-clinching touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
With just over five minutes left in the game the Patriots were down 24-13 either because of how well the Bills were playing or how poorly the Patriots were, depending likely on which part of the Eastern seaboard you live in. Here are the facts Tom Brady was missing receivers high, he threw a pick six to Aaron Schobel on an spectacular defensive effort that aborted a screen play, and the Patriots failed to convert deep in Bills territory. On four occasions within field goal range the Patriots failed to convert on 4th and 1, missed a field goal wide right, and in the red zone settled twice for converted field goals. Those are not the results of the high-octane offense that Patriots fans have come to expect.
Down by eleven in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter many fans could have been forgiven for heading to the exits, for Brady and co. when it mattered most they began to click. Gone were the running plays with six lineman, in their place came four and five receiver sets. With three timeouts and the two-minute warning the Patriots needed to score and get the ball back. No problem, finally looking like the Brady of old the Patriots drove down the field. Brady methodically drove the Pats with 11 plays including nine completions the longest being a 18-yard strike to Benjamin Watson in the endzone. After a missed two-point conversion the Patriots found themselves down 24-19 with 2:06 left. With three timeouts left and the two-minute warning the question was really could the Patriots stop Fred Jackson.
However thanks to the Patriots special teams and Leodis McKelvin, it wouldn’t be an issue. McKelvin for whatever reason took the ensuing kickoff out of the endzone despite having the Bills’ hands team to block for him. The resulting play was a disaster for the Bills, safety Brandon Meriweather crushed McKelvin with a hit, but critically held him up as well. With McKelvin held up on the play Pierre Woods stripped him, and Stephen Gostkowski the Patriots’ kicker of all people recovered the kick. From an outsiders’ point of view this was exactly the kind of break the Patriots receive/create, and on the flip side the same sort of bad luck the Bills (or Bengals) always seem to have.
For Brady it was back to business, a six-yard completion to Moss, followed by a nine yard completion to Welker, than ho hum a beautiful 16-yard strike again to Benjamin Watson in the endzone to put the Patriots up 25-24. Again their two point convert failed but the Patriots defense was able for the first time all game to get pressure on Trent Edwards and closed the door for good on the Bills.
Tom Brady- 39-53, 378 Yards 2 TD 1 INT
Wes Welker- 12 Rec, 93 Yards
Randy Moss- 12 Rec 141 Yards
Although there were some noticeable hiccups along the way, those numbers have to serve notice to the NFL.
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Written by Nich Hall