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In Week 3, the Patriots found themselves up 21-0 in the second quarter against the Bills. 36 minutes of football, and they watched stunned as Rian Lindell put a game-winning field goal through the uprights to hand them their first loss of the season.
In Week 17, with home field advantage in the playoffs on the line, it was the Bills who opened up the 21-0 advantage, and the Patriots who dealt some harsh payback by ratting off 49 straight points to rout Buffalo.
The first quarter saw New England dominated in every aspect off the game. Picking up only one first down thanks to a penalty, Tom Brady wouldn't pick up his first passing yards until he hit Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski for 11 total on the last two plays of the quarter. Meanwhile, the Miami offense marched downfield three straight times, twice converting fourth downs to score three touchdowns before New England so much as sniffed the scoreboard.
From there, the game took a 180 degree turn. Big plays from Aaron Hernandez, who would end the game with a career-high 138 receiving yards, as well as Stevan Ridley set up BenJarvus Green-Ellis for a short touchdown run to cut the lead to 21-7. After a big sack from the defense forced the Bills to punt for the first time on the ensuing Buffalo drive, Brady again found Hernandez, this time for 39 yards and a second touchdown.
While a tipped pass would lead to an interception and end the Patriots' hopes for a halftime tie, a pair of field goals to start the third quarter left them trailing by just a point. And when Sterling Moore dove in front of Ruvell Martin for an interception on just the second play from scrimmage on the next Bills drive, the Patriots were just a 17-yard touchdown grab from Rob Gronkowski away from the lead. A successful two-point conversion from Danny Woodhead made it 28-21.
With the lead gained, the floodgates had opened for an unreasonably lopsided fourth quarter. Ryan Fitzpatrick found himself picked off again when Devin McCourty nabbed a pass that bounced high off of C.J. Spiller's hands, and after Aaron Hernandez picked up 44 yards on the first play of the drive, BenJarvus Green-Ellis needed just three to make it a 35-21 lead.
A 3-and-out from the Bills would lead to a long, game-sealing drive for the Patriots, wrapped up by another touchdown pass from Rob Gronkowski who built on his already historic receiving season. As if 42-21 wasn't enough, on the very first play on the ensuing Buffalo drive, Ryan Fitzpatrick found Sterling Moore again, who returned the interception for another touchdown.
One more interception (making it four on the day to match Brady's figure back in Week 3) allowed the Patriots to simply kneel the ball down for the win, but not before Brian Hoyer threw one pass: a 21-yard strike to Rob Gronkowski, allowing the Pro Bowler to set the NFL record for tight end receiving yards in the season. With 338 yards on the day, Tom Brady also wrapped up his own historical season, surpassing the 5,000 yard mark and Dan Marino's record one week after Drew Brees set the new bar.
The rout is on late in Foxborough, and it's all New England as the clock runs down on the final quarter of the regular season.
While the Patriots seemed to have the game all wrapped up with BenJarvus Green-Ellis' touchdown run that made it 35-21, that hasn't stopped them from adding more points, and doing so from both sides of the ball.
For once, the Bills managed to pin the Patriots deep with a punt in the fourth quarter instead of giving up an interception and a short field, but it made little difference for New England. Relying on Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the Patriots picked up 50 yards in five plays before an incomplete pass to Hernandez broke up the run.
The incompletion wouldn't stop the drive, however, and neither would a sack, as Brady twice found Welker for third down conversions to bring the Patriots within the 10-yard line. From there, it was once again Rob Gronkowski extending his touchdown record with a clean 7-yard grab in the end zone.
If that weren't enough, the first Bills play from scrimmage after the kick-off went to Sterling Moore, who added on to his impressive day with a pick six to make it 49-21.
The Patriots are piling it on in the fourth quarter, with another interception leading to another quick touchdown drive for Tom Brady and his offense.
While the interception wasn't quite as impressive as Sterling Moore's from the previous drive, Devin McCourty's second pick of the year--coming gift-wrapped off of C.J. Spiller's hands--gave the Patriots the ball all the same. And fromthere, it was a matter of seconds before the score changed.
On the first play of the drive Tom Brady found Aaron Hernandez out right with a quick pass, and the tight end added one of his trademark runs after the catch to make it a 44-yard gain, taking the Patriots all the way to the 3-yard line. From there, it took just one play: a hard-nosed run from BenJarvus Green Ellis, who found his way into the end zone with his second effort, making it a 35-21 lead for New England in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots have finally taken the lead in Gillette Stadium, having scored 28 straight points since falling behind 21-0 in the first quarter.
While the Bills' defense seems to have found another gear since their goal-line stand, the Patriots' offense proved too much to stop. Provided with a short field by an impressive interception from Sterling Moore, who dove in front of a receiver to pick off Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Patriots' offense was nearly stifled again by the Bills, but received some help from Buffalo's defense. After a sack and fumble left Tom Brady facing a 3rd-and-15, it was Kirk Morrison who was called for a holding penalty on an incomplete pass to Rob Gronkowski, providing New England with a free set of downs.
Some tough running from Stevan Ridley set the Patriots up with a 3rd-and-2, but with the Bills' defense swarming all over the field so far on the drive, those couple of yards seemed like it would be a battle on the ground. Instead, Tom Brady went to the air, and the end zone, seemingly catching the Bills completely off-guard. Rob Gronkowski had somehow slipped his way behind the Buffalo defense, where Tom Brady found him for his 16th touchdown grab of the year. With Brady already having passed Dan Marino's mark for yardage in the game, it's only appropriate that Gronkowski gets to add on to his historic mark.
Not content to settle for just a 27-21 lead, the Patriots looked to make it an even touchdown by going for two. Danny Woodhead got the call, and forced his way into the end zone to convert the attempt and make it 28-21.
The Patriots are just one point away from a tie game at 21-20, but could have already taken the lead with just two more yards.
After giving up a couple of quick first downs following Stephen Gostkowski's field goal, the Patriots' defense stiffened once again. Bringing pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick time and again seems to have disrupted his rhythm, and that proved the case again on 3rd-and-5, when Fitzpatrick was forced to get rid of the ball in a hurry, leaving the Bills facing a fourth down when no catch was made.
Again choosing to punt, the Bills turned the ball over to the Patriots' offense, and quickly found themselves backed up to their own goal line. After Brady just barely missed Chad Ochocinco on a deep ball over the middle, Bill O'Brien drew up a quick screen pass to BenJarvus Green-Ellis that completely fooled the Bills. Jetting up the field with blocks from receivers and offensive linemen alike, Green-Ellis carried the ball 53 yards before being stopped at the 20-yard line. A quick pass to Wes Welker would bring them within two yards with three chances at the end zone.
Unfortunately, that 2-yard difference would prove to be worth four points. After forcing Brady to throw the ball away, the Bills' defense stuffed BenJarvus Green-Ellis at the line, and then reacted in time to Brady's scramble attempt on third, again forcing the Pats to settle for just a field goal.
The Patriots have cut the Buffalo lead to just four points after Stephen Gostkowski started off the second half with a field goal.
While the Patriots' hopes of knotting things up before the half died when Tom Brady had a pass tipped by his receiver for an interception, the Bills' 45-yard field goal attempt ended up wide of the mark, leaving the score 21-14 when New England received the ball to start the second half.
The offensive execution was not terribly pretty coming out of halftime. After Aaron Hernandez picked up 19 yards on a reverse, Rob Gronkowski dropped what could have been a big gain, and Stevan Ridley fumbled--mercifully out of bounds--after a 13-yard run. Brady and Gronkowski again failed to hook up on the ensuing first down, this time because Brady threw it into the dirt, but they finally made it work on the next play as Gronkowski picked up 17 yards over the middle.
Unfortunately, that was where the drive died out. Stevan Ridley was stopped at the line, Wes Welker couldn't recover after slipping to the ground, and Brady couldn't connect with Aaron Hernandez on third down, forcing the Patriots to turn to Stephen Gostkowski for the field goal.
It was an ugly start for the New England against the Bills, but now that they're on the comeback trail, the Patriots are doing it in style. Case-in-point: Aaron Hernandez, who knows he's not going to be touched as he waltzes into the end zone to make it a one score game:
While Bill Belichick won't be too happy if something like that starts to pick up 15-yard penalties, in this case no foul means no harm.
The Patriots will have about two minutes now to drive the ball down the field after forcing a turnover one downs when the Bills once again went for it on fourth--albeit this time with 12 long yards to cover. If they can actually tie the game going into the half--after which they will receive the ball--it will be an even more impressive comeback than last week against Miami, if only for the speed with which it was accomplished.
The Patriots are on the comeback trail once again, quickly closing the gap from 21-0 to 21-14 as Aaron Hernandez high-stepped his way into the end zone for New England's second touchdown.
While the secondary had some difficulties to start the game, Ryan Fitzpatrick struggled to find his targets on their most recent drive. On 2nd-and-10, he was forced to scramble away from pressure, though the run went for 16 yards as the left side of the field emptied out. He would not prove nearly as elusive on the next play, however, falling victim to Mark Anderson's tenth sack of the year despite an offensive holding call. Only able to cover nine yards on the next two plays, the Bills were finally forced to punt.
Though the Patriots would need 80 yards to reach the end zone, the drive hardly seemed that long. The Patriots made their way to midfield with five quick plays, and then to the 40 as Stevan Ridley broke off another strong run. While the first 40 took six snaps, the last 40 took just one, as Brady found Aaron Hernandez streaking down the right sideline. Wide open, Hernandez had no problem running into the end zone with some high-stepping flair for the touchdown.
The Patriots have finally found some traction on offense, grabbing their first touchdown of the game as the no-huddle offense left the Bills defense on its heels.
While so far Brady's passing game had left balls bouncing off finger tips, he went to arguably his most comfortable target in Rob Gronkowski for five yards to pick up his first gain of the day. That opened the floodgates. Stevan Ridley broke off a quick 7-yard run, Aaron Hernandez made a big grab over the middle for 27, and then Wes Welker brought the Patriots within the 25 with a catch of his own.
Going back to the ground game, Stevan Ridley carried three straight times, with a 22-yard burst on the second run bringing the Patriots to the goal line, where BenJarvus Green-Ellis leapt over the pile to put the Patriots on the board with their first touchdown.
Momentum seems to be shifting both ways now, as a big sack on Ryan Fitzpatrick has forced the Bills to finally punt--for real this time.
Bill Belichick didn't pull any punches with his starting lineup, but it's the Bills who have the Patriots reeling in the first quarter after three straight touchdowns have them up 21-0.
While the first two scoring drives for the Bills required fourth down conversions, their most recent push down the field was entirely straightforward. Ryan Fitzpatrick did his best Tom Brady impression, completing four straight passes to start the drive for 55 yards to bring the Bills to the 27 yard line. Finally turning to the ground game, C.J. Spiller picked up 12 yards, and then turned upfield on the next play after making a quick catch on a crossing route, finding the end zone for the 21-0 lead.
The Patriots are using some unusual looks on defense, including giving Devin McCourty snaps at safety, but so far none of them look terribly impressive. The Bills are moving the ball at will, and have a formidable lead as a result. But, if we learned anything last week, it's that no lead is safe against this offense.
It just has to get going first.
The Bills are playing like a team with nothing to lose in Foxborough today, taking a 14-0 lead after converting another fourth down.
The big play came after a sack left the Bills 13 yards away on second down. A 9-yard toss brought the Bills four yards away, and this time they didn't even bother with a fake. Lining up in the shotgun, Ryan Fitzpatrick found Steve Johnson for the needed yardage and the first down.
Again, having picked up the first the Bills quickly set their sights on the end zone. Just one play after converting the fourth down, Fitzpatrick went back to Steve Johnson over the top, finding his target in the corner of the end zone for the touchdown and the 14-0 lead.
The Patriots, meanwhile, are looking entirely inept against this typically weak Buffalo defense. But for a holding call, they've managed nothing at all, and are facing a punt for their second straight drive.
After the Buffalo Bills won the opening coin toss, they were able to put up the first points of the game, but with help of a little trickery.
On a fourth and short, the Bills executed a successful fake punt with a direct snap to George Wilson. With the drive extended, Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills offense were able to take advantage of a big pass interference penalty on Antwaun Molden that set them up in the redzone. Two plays later, Tashard Choice capped the drive with a four yard run up the middle, giving the Bills the first touchdown of the game.
As it stands, the Bills lead the Patriots, 7-0 early in the first quarter.
The New England Patriots Week 17 injury report has been released, and as expected quarterback Tom Brady will play against visiting Buffalo Bills Sunday. All week, the status of Brady's non-throwing, which underwent X-rays Wednesday, has been tracked, but the injury wasn't expected to keep the quarterback out for the regular-season finale.
Also, playing despite being listed on Friday's injury report will wide receivers Wes Welker and Deion Branch, who were each listed as questionable during Friday's report. Welker is battling a knee injury, while Branch is having issues with his groin.
The Week 17 inactives for the Patriots are:
DE Ron Brace
G Logan Mankins
OT Sebastian Vollmer
LB Tracy White
RB Kevin Faulk
QB Ryan Mallett
RB Shane Vereen
Meanwhile, the Bills will be without: tackle Demetrius Bell (knee)Kraig Urbik (knee) and wide receiver Brad Smith (hamstring). defensive back Josh Nesbitt, defensive lineman Jarron Gilbert, wide receiver Kamar Aiken and tight end Frendi Onobun.
Game time, TV schedule and more for the Bills-Patriots game on Sunday afternoon.
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots welcome the Buffalo Bills into Gillette Stadium on New Year's Day in search of a win in the regular season finale at 1:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday at Foxborough, MA (TV/Radio: CBS/WBZ-FM 98.5 FM).
New England (12-3) would lock up the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC win a win. Buffalo (6-9), meanwhile, is out of the playoff picture and is looking to close out the season with a little momentum, having won its last game against Denver.
The Patriots and Bills met once earlier in the season, with Buffalo handing the Pats a surprising 34-31 loss in Week 3. Rian Lindell split the uprights on a 28-yard field goal as time expired to give the Bills the win. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 369 yards and two touchdowns while being intercepted twice. Brady threw for 387 yards, four scores and four picks.
New England has been on a roll, winning its last seven games -- most recently against the Miami Dolphins. Brady had 304 passing yards and one touchdown pass while rushing for two scores in a 27-24 win over the fish on Christmas Eve. Wes Welker had 12 catches for 138 yards and Stevan Ridley rushed for 64 yards on 13 carries for New England.
Brady suffered a sprained left shoulder during the game, but the injury appears to be minor and the Patriots' quarterback should be good to go heading into the playoffs. That's good news for Pats fans. No Brady, no chance.
Buffalo flattened Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos last weekend, with Fitzpatrick throwing for 196 yards in a 40-14 victory for the Bills. Steve Johnson had four catches for 92 yards and C.J. Spiller rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown.
Can the Pats clinch the AFC's top seed, or will the Bills spoil the party and sweep the season series? We'll know the answer in a matter of hours.
The New England Patriots will wrap up their 2011 regular season on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium at 1 p.m.
During the week, Tom Brady was limited during Patriots' practices. As we've come to expect, New England head coach Bill Belichick was not forthcoming about the state of Brady's injury. He was firm that Brady will play on Sunday.
According to a report, Brady has a sprained left shoulder
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Patriots QB Tom Brady has sprained left shoulder. I'm told it is "not an instability problem". (via Albert Breer's Twitter)
However, the injury is not expected to limit Brady during the game
At this point, for Brady, handling the injury is a matter of "pain control", per a source. Shouldn't limit him from a playing standpoint. (via Albert Breer's Twitter)
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick was positively Belichickian during his Friday news conference when asked about quarterback Tom Brady's health.
According to WEEI, Belichick declined to address Brady's health directly and would not elaborate on the injured shoulder that limited Brady during Thursday's practice and sidelined him the day before.
Asked what Brady was able to do on the field during Thursday's practice session, Belichick was again coy.
"Play quarterback," he said.
Asked what type of confidence the Patriots have in Brady's injured shoulder, Belichick implied that everyone will know on Sunday when Brady either does or does not play in New England's regular season finale against the Buffalo Bills.
"Anybody we put out on the field, I have confidence in or we wouldn't put him out there," Belichick said. "So if they're out there, we have confidence in him. If they're not out there, there is either another player ahead of him or we're not confident they can go out there [healthy]. It's as simple as that. We're not going to put anybody out there on the field that we don't have confidence in."
Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien could land a head coaching job after the season, when his current contract expires.
The Patriots are double-digit favorites as they host the Buffalo Bills on Sunday with a chance to clinch the number one seed in the AFC Playoffs.
New England Patriots Tom Brady was present at the team's practice on Thursday, but ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Brady will be limited to stretching only and will not fully participate in the session as the Patriots prepare for their regular season finale against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Schefter earlier reported that Brady would miss Thursday's practice due to an injury to his non-throwing shoulder suffered during Saturday's win against the Miami Dolphins. Brady missed Wednesday's practice with what the team officially listed a non-injury related issue, but Comcast Sports New England reported that Brady actually underwent x-rays to determine whether he had a separated shoulder. The x-rays were reportedly negative.
The only players who were not present during the media portion of Thursday's practice were offensive linemen Sebastian Vollmer (back/foot) and Logan Mankins (knee).
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will not practice Thursday due to an injury to his non-throwing shoulder, but the team still expects he will be available in the regular season finale Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, reports ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Brady also missed practice on Wednesday. Though the team's official injury report said his absence was due to a non-injury related issue, Comcast Sports New England reported that Brady went for an x-ray on his shoulder to check for a separation and was later told he was "all set."
The Pro Bowl quarterback was seen wearing an ice pack on his left shoulder after getting hit during New England's victory against the Dolphins this past weekend.
Brady has completed 65.6% of his passes for 4,897 yards and 36 touchdowns compared to 11 interceptions. Should he miss Sunday's game, Brian Hoyer would likely start in his place.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was not present at the media portion of the team's Wednesday practice as his teammates prepared for their regular season finale against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Brady, who was seen wearing an ice pack on his non-throwing shoulder after getting hit during the Miami Dolphins game in Week 16, spoke to reporters during media availability and is still expected to play on Sunday.
The Patriots were also without offensive linemen Logan Mankins and Sebastian Vollmer during the media portion of the practice. Mankins sprained his MCL during the Dolphins game and is not expected to play against the Bills. Vollmer injured his right foot against the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 27 and hasn't played since.
Left tackle Matt Light miss Saturday's win against the Dolphins, but returned to practice on Wednesday.
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots look at avenge an early-season loss to the Buffalo Bills when they host their AFC East foes in the regular season finale at 1 p.m. EDT on New Year's Day at Gillette Stadium (TV/Radio: CBS/98.5 FM).
New England Patriots offensive lineman Logan Mankins suffered a sprained MCL against the Miami Dolphins on Saturday and will miss New England's regular season finale against the Buffalo Bills, reports the Boston Herald's Ian Rapoport.
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