The New England Patriots rallied last Sunday in week one in Buffalo, NY to edge the hard-charging Buffalo Bills 23 to 21. While New England dominated the statistics by out rushing the Bills 158 yards to 136, leading in passing yards 273 yards to 150 yards, and 26 first downs to 15, the Bills stayed in the game after the Patriots jumped out 10 to zero in the first quarter due to their opportunistic defense. Two fumbles by Patriots running back Stevan Ridley (one recovered by the Patriots) slowed the Patriots offense and eventually led to Bills safety Da’Norris Searcy’s 74 yard fumble recovery for a touchdown to put the Bills back in the game.
A dropped pass that led to an interception by Patriots rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld gave Buffalo a short field and the Bills struck for an 18 yard touchdown pass after New England safety Steve Gregory blew the coverage (see #10 in the ESPN Boston piece by Field Yates) and led to Buffalo again working their way back into the game. After Buffalo took the lead to open the third quarter, the Patriots missed yet another opportunity, fumbling the ball away on fourth and one at the Buffalo one yard line. The Patriots defense was a star of the game forcing two turnovers and nine punts. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski also was strong throughout the game booming five of six kickoffs for touchbacks and nailing a 35 yard field goal with just five seconds remaining in the game to give the Patriots a tough, gritty road win.
A week after facing former New York Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine in Buffalo running the “Ryan Family Defense” (the 3-4 Hybrid), quarterback Tom Brady gets a second dose in a week and a half when head coach Rex Ryan brings the New York Jets and rookie quarterback Geno Smith to Foxboro, MA. The Thursday night game does not give either team much time to rest and heal after both teams had hard fought defensive battles coming down to a field goal attempt at the end of the game. The Jets behind rookie Smith drove down the field in less than a minute to get in field goal range (with the help of a dumb penalty) and defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
What does Thursday night hold for the New England Patriots in their home opener on the national stage in week two of the 2013 NFL season against their division rival New York Jets? The MusketFire.com staff has their analysis and predictions for the matchup right here!