It took almost all of the 38 points the Patriots’ offense scored to put the Bills away this afternoon in Gillette Stadium. The Pats defeated the Bills 38-30 in what was a back-and-forth game for much of the afternoon. In the first half, the lead changed hands five times. The most exciting of those lead changes came towards the end of the first half. With the Pats up 14-13 with just under 3 minutes to go in the half, the Bills drove down the field and kicked a field goal with only 24 seconds left. It was 24 seconds too many as it took Tom Brady only 2 passes- at 29-yard pass to Brandon Tate and a 13-yarder to Aaron Hernandez- to get into Stephen Gostkowski’s field goal range, and he put the 43-yard field goal through the uprights to put the Pats up 17-16 at the half. The Pats would never relinquish the lead, despite the Bills challenging them throughout the game.
The offense was stellar. Tom Brady hit 7 different receivers for 252 yards and 3 touchdowns, 2 of which went to Randy Moss. Besides the passing game being on, the running game looked better than it has in a few seasons. The Pats put up 200 yards on the ground, with 8 ball carriers contributing to the total, including BenJarvus Green-Ellis, newcomer Danny Woodhead, and Brady. Yes, QB Tom Brady, who scampered 9 yards for a first down in the third quarter. BJGE lead the team with 98 yards and a TD on 16 carries (6.1 ypc), while Woodhead made an impact his first game with the Patriots running 42 yards on 3 carries, including an impressive 22-yard TD. Aaron Hernandez was the main target for Brady, being targeted 7 times while making 6 catches for 65 yards. Hernandez is really carving a niche out for himself in the offense.
The defense churned out a less-than-stellar performance, allowing 30 points to the NFL’s worst-ranked offense through the first two games of the season. Seven of those points came after a 95-yard kickoff return by rookie C.J. Spiller, but regardless, the defense got carved up by Ryan Fitzpatrick. They couldn’t get off the field on third down, allowing the Bills to convert on 50% of their 3rd downs. On one particular play in the 1st quarter, the Bills faced 3rd and 18 and converted on a 20-yard completion to Roscoe Parrish. The Pats allowed 374 total net yards, including 247 passing yards. The bright spots defensively were the two interceptions (by Pat Chung and Brandon Meriweather) that helped to put the game away.
The Patriots have some real concerns about that defense early in the season. If they can’t get things tightened up fast, the more explosive offenses in the league are going to have a field day against this team. The offense can’t put up over 30 points every week. The Patriots can savor this win because next week they have another division rival (and a much stronger one) in the Miami Dolphins on the road.