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.