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London and Tampa aren’t enough. The Patriots finally managed to eke out their first true road win of the season, defeating the Buffalo Bills, 17-10. From the opening kickoff, the Bills started by rushing the ball forward, and quite effectively at that. Nine of thirteen plays, not including the kickoff return or resulting field goal, were rushes. From the return, Buffalo went 90 yards in 9:24, which would help them control the ball for 33:32 of the game to take a 3-0 lead.
When the Pats finally got the ball, Brady insisted on bringing Moss back into the game. After a few first downs got them to midfield, Brady through deep to Moss at the goal line, but not surprisingly, Moss let the ball slip right through his hands. This was quickly followed up with an interception on the next play. Not exactly how the Patriots wanted to start the game.
In the second quarter, it was more of the same. Another deep ball to Moss was again dropped, despite being easily catch-able. This time, however, the Pats were fortunate enough to get a 43-yard pass interference call on the play and, after an offensive pass interference, Moss redeemed himself with a difficult 13-yard TD catch at the back of the end zone. Later in the quarter, the Patriots would drive down the field again, culminating in a one yard TD run by Laurence Maroney on 3rd and goal (following 1st and goal from the 1 after a pass interference in the end zone). The Bills had 24 seconds to do something, and passed up the field nicely before missing a 56 yard field goal wide left to end the half.
The Patriots would add a field goal in the 3rd quarter to go ahead 17-3, leaving the Bills to attempt a comeback in the 4th quarter. With a sense of urgency, Buffalo had to resort to going for it on 4th and 1, then later on 4th and 8 on the same drive, converting on both. A dropped pass on 4th and 9 gave the Pats the ball on their own 11 with 4:20 to go. Instead of running out the clock (Buffalo had two timeouts remaining), the Patriots passed twice on 2nd and 3rd downs (even missing out on a blatant pass interference not called against the Bills), giving the Bills very ample time left to do come back. Two passes later, they did, for a catch at the front left corner of the end zone, making it 17-10.
Now here’s where things get interesting. With 3:02 left in the game, but having only one timeout, Buffalo went for the onside kick, and recovered. At least they would have, if Aaron Maybin of the Bills hadn’t crossed the 30 yard line before the ball was kicked. Five yards back, the Bills took no chances this time and kicked it away, and after gaining a first down at the two minute warning, and with no Bills timeouts remaining, Brady took three knees to solidify the win.
Each segment of the Patriots’ team had their issues today, so let’s give it to Maybin. If he hadn’t jumped offside, the Bills had plenty of time to tie it up, or worse.
The Patriots should run the ball more. Deep passes don’t work often (hence the name “Hail Mary”) and without any backs behind Brady, the Bills can rush and defend against short passes with much more concentration and effectiveness.
“It’s just the way it worked out.” – Bill Belichick on the involvement of Randy Moss during the first few drives.