Patriots blow away Bills
By MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency
|Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty (left) celebrates his interception against the Bills with safety Steve Gregory at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sept. 30, 2012. (DOUG BENZ/Reuters)
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - This was supposed to be the statement game for the Bills’ big-ticket off-season acquisitions.
Bringing in Mario Williams and Mark Anderson to join Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams on a beefed up defensive line was supposed to be the perfect tonic for beating a guy like Tom Brady.
Put Brady on his back enough and he’ll never have the chance to get his high-octane offence in gear — at least that was the thinking.
As it turned out, Brady wasn’t the one the Bills had to worry about in a humiliating 52-28 beatdown Sunday.
Despite a gaudy 340 yards passing from Gisele Bundchen’s other half, this game turned when Brady, or more precisely Bill Belichick, decided to put the ball in the hands of his running backs.
And the punishment Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden put on Buffalo had the Bills using words like “embarrassed” and “humiliated” and “whipped.”
Linebacker Nick Barnett said it was a case of the Bills defence “playing Santa Claus” and giving the Patriots pretty much anything they asked for.
The talk after the game wasn’t pretty, but then neither were the numbers.
Between them, Ridley and Bolden combined for 243 yards on 38 carries, both of them surpassing the 100-yard mark. They also combined for three touchdowns.
Danny Woodhead, another Patriots back, chipped in with a fourth.
To put that kind of rushing afternoon in perspective, a Patriots team hasn’t had a pair of 100-yard rushers in the same game since 1980 when Don Calhoun and Vagas Ferguson both went over the 100-yard mark in a win over Baltimore.
“Right now I’m not liking the way I’m feeling and I’m sure everyone else is feeling the same way,” Barnett said.
The real disappointment was that the Bills had a two-touchdown lead in this one after Ryan Fitzpatrick found Donald Jones cutting across the middle. He hit Jones in stride and Jones ran away from the New England defence for a 68-yard touchdown.
At that point it was 21-7 Bills and the crowd of 70,684 at Ralph Wilson were already trying to come to terms with a first-place Bills team with the Patriots a full two games in their rearview mirror.
Five consecutive New England touchdowns ended that illusion pretty quickly.
Just why the Patriots were suddenly able to run at will in the second half — the two backs between them had just 88 yards in the first half — seemed to be a mystery to some Bills and rather apparent to others.
Safety George Wilson pointed to the two tight-end sets the Patriots came out in as one of the major adjustments the Pats made in the second half.
But Williams wasn’t sure about anything other than he needed some time in the film room.
“It really wasn’t at the point of attack,” Williams said. “I don’t know what was going on, I don’t know which way he was hitting it. It was the same blocking scheme the same plays and it all happened in the second half. I don’t know what in the world was different or what was going on but obviously they were gaining yards on us.”
As for Williams feeling like he might have let his team down, well, you can forget about that too.
“If we don’t stop the run, there’s no putting anyone on their backs,” Williams said sounding very much like a guy giving himself a pass. “We tried different things and he was still breaking free. There was nobody there.”
Head coach Chan Gailey said the combination of the turnovers and the Bills porous run defence were his team’s undoing. In addition to the miles the Pats churned out in the ground game, they were also the benefactors of six Buffalo turnovers.
“You turn it over and you don’t stop the run, you’re not going to win football games,” Gailey summed up. “To be honest with you, they just whipped us. That’s the bottom line. They blocked us and we didn’t get off blocks and get to the ball. We missed entirely too many tackles.”
About the only positive to take away from an afternoon like this is that as bad as it was, this was still just one game. Whether you give up 14 points and lose or 52 points and lose it’s still just a loss.
“We made some mistakes and didn’t look the way we wanted it to look,” Barnett said. “But we’re still 2-2. There’s still 12 games left and no one is perfect. This is disappointing and we have to get better.”
What no one had the heart to point out to Barnett is that four of the team’s next five games are arguably tougher matchups than the one the Bills had Sunday.
Next week they fly out to San Francisco to take on the 49ers, stay on the road for a date at the always tough Sun Devil Stadium in Phoenix, come home for what should be a breather against Tennessee and then head right back out on the road to take on the Houston Texans and then a second date, this one in Foxboro, against the Patriots.
Sure they’re .500 now, but maintaining that, or even staying close to it over those five weeks is going to be another monumental battle.