The second quarter started like the first, as the Buffalo Bills defense held the Patriots with some strong rush defense and confusing quarterback Tom Brady. A nice call putting defensive lineman Marcell Dareus dropping back into the passing lane and then another safety blitz stuffed New England. The Zoltan Mesko fans then rose up as one as rookie punter Ryan Allen shanked it for nineteen yards.
In two plays, running back Fred Jackson gashed the Patriots defense right up the gut with two runs to bring the Bills near midfield. Fortunately the defense held on a third and one and forced yet another punt as big boys Tommie Kelly and Joe Vellano provided some push up the middle to stop running back C.J. Spiller. Why Buffalo did New England a favor by taking out big back Fred Jackson on third and a yard. The fans in Buffalo were not happy, but Buffalo could not give up the field position (even though the punt rolled into the endzone for a touchback).
The Patriots offense went three and out yet again as the Buffalo defense brought the heat on first and third down forcing a punt. Redeeming himself for the shank last time, rookie punter Ryan Allen boomed a beauty which rolled down to the eight yard line. Buffalo almost dug the hole deeper when on third and three it initially looked like an interception as Kyle Arrington broke up a slant at the seventeen yard line. Overruled by replay, the Bills punted again. On offense, the Patriots drove down inside the Buffalo thirty yard line behind running backs Stevan Ridley (rushing) and Shane Vereen (receiving) before Stevan Ridley took a seat in the doghouse.
On first and five, Ridley cut back on a run up the middle, tangled up his own feet, and fumbled the ball. Buffalo recovered, and Da’Norris Searcy picked up the fumble and rumbled seventy-four yards to put Buffalo on the board and back in the game. Suddenly, it was ten to seven, and the stadium was rocking in Buffalo. For Stevan Ridley, who ended the 2012 season with a costly fumble against Baltimore in the AFC Championship, it was a seat on the bench for at least the rest of the first half, as LeGarrette Blount was in with fellow running back Shane Vereen the rest of the first half.
The Patriots would have liked to answer the Bills touchdown immediately, but the offense sputtered in Buffalo territory again after the Patriots drove to the Buffalo 37 yard line. A no gain by LeGarrette Blount led to third and five. Brady completed the pass to rookie Kenbrell Thompkins who should have, but did not, come down in bounds and led to the punt. Another punt led to Buffalo taking over at their eleven yard line.
Buffalo sputtered and again turned it over as Kyle Arrington made his presence felt again by forcing a fumble on a short pass to Marquise Goodwin. Defensive end Rob Ninkovich recovered and the Patriots converted quickly with a touchdown on third and seven to wide receiver Julian Edelman again.
New England forced a three and out with Buffalo’s hurry-up two minute offense and they were off the field in thirty seconds. With 1:11 to go in the half, quarterback Tom Brady took over. After a completion to running back Shane Vereen, quarterback Tom Brady threw a strike to tight end Zach Sudfeld. Sudfeld, apparently wearing ice skates, slipped coming out of his break just like wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins earlier and fell and the ball popped up in the air and was intercepted by Buffalo.
With a short field, Buffalo converted with rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel finding tight end Scott “Patriots killer” Chandler down the middle and then finding wide receiver Robert Woods left wide open in the end zone in an apparent blown coverage. Cornerback Aqib Talib turned Woods loose and safety Steve Gregory was nowhere to be seen in pass support. Talib was visually angry with Gregory, which seems to indicate he was expecting Gregory to pick up Woods. Buffalo scored to cut it to seventeen to fourteen as the Patriots took it to the half in a sloppy first half. New England looked good, but inexperienced at times. With wide receiver Danny Amendola hobbled by his apparent re-injury of his groin, it is a storyline to watch in the second half.