|11.11.12 at 10:13 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Danny Woodhead did it all on Sunday, running for touchdowns, catching passes that turned into touchdowns and throwing in a celebratory shoulder shake for some added flavor. Woodhead had a 15-yard TD run in the second quarter and an 18-yard run-after-catch for a score in the third in New England’s 37-31 win over the Bills.
“Phenomenal, man,” Stevan Ridley said of Woodhead. “That’s the leader in our room and Woody does it all. He runs well, he catches well. He’s a threat for the defenses. They’ve got to find the little short guy out there somewhere. But most of the time he’s making plays and it’s too late [for defenses]. My hat’s off to Woody for leading our room and doing it strong.”
How does the 5-foot-9 Woodhead earn that love and respect from teammates? By reacting to his two-touchdown day in a completely humble fashion.
“It’s a pretty good day because we got the ‘W’. That’s really the only thing that matters. Two touchdowns, whatever, that’s not of the most concern. It’s just getting the win and we got the win.”
“We use all of our backs,” Bill Belichick said. There’s no ‘ [the media] thinks that every game this guy’s got all these plays and the next game somebody else has all those plays. We don’t know. But they all played, they all contributed, they were all productive. And Danny made some good plays, no doubt about it.”
After his second touchdown, he went into the end zone, flipped the ball to the official and did a dance on one knee involving his shoulders. No name for it yet.
“He’s feeling it, he’s feeling it,” Ridley laughed. “What can you say about Woody? Two touchdowns, I say he does what he want. No. 39 getting it done. I say depend on the man, throw him the ball.”
Woodhead’s only carry was his 15-yard TD while he was targeted in the passing game six times by Tom Brady and caught four passes for 46 yards.
|11.11.12 at 9:40 pm ET|
Whether he was “living right” as he was asked afterward or just playing right, McCourty came up with the two biggest defensive plays of the day. He forced a C.J. Spiller fumble with 10 minutes left at the Patriots goal line that kept the Bills out of the end zone for three minutes.
Then, with the Bills at the Patriots 15 and threatening to score the game-winning touchdown, McCourty was in the right place at the right time when Ryan Fitzpatrick threw it into a group of four Patriots defensive backs. McCourty’s pick of the pass intended for T.J. Graham came with 23 seconds left and sealed a 37-31 win.
“Yeah, that was one of those right place, right time moments right there,” McCourty admitted afterward. “The ball [was] thrown right to me, so just making the catch and ending it was my focus at that time.”
Up until that point, it didn’t look so good.
The Bills had driven from their own 20 with 2:06 left to the Patriots 15 with little resistance, as the Patriots allowed completions of 21, 14 and 14 yards on the methodical march.
“Those last drives are always tough,” McCourty said. “The offense is throwing out whatever they haven’t called as their best stuff, they’re going to whatever works at that point in the game. So, when we get on the field defensively, it’s all about getting the stop we need defensively or a turnover or trying to make them go four-and-out. At that point, we’re just moving on each play, trying to get the stop. [If] that play’s gone, we’re trying to focus on the next play. Those two-minute drives are always tough. It went right down to the last second. That was big just to be able to go through that and get the win at the end.”
As for the forced a fumble at the one-yard line – recovered by Kyle Arrington – it’s another example of how important turnovers are to the Patriots existence.
“We know no matter what happens in the game, there’s nothing bigger than turnovers,” McCourty said. “I think throughout any level of football, turnovers are always a big part. A lot of times if you can just win that turnover ratio, you end up winning the game. We know each game we have to go out and win the turnover ratio. No matter what happens in the game, we have to come out on top with the turnover ratio.” Read the rest of this entry »
|11.11.12 at 9:03 pm ET|
FOXBORO — For the first time in a long time, it appeared the Bills had the Patriots right where they wanted them heading into the final minute of a game at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots held a 37-31 advantage with just under a minute to play when the Bills took over control and began to march the ball into New England territory.
The drive began with just over two minutes to play at the Bills’ 20 yard-line. Big gains to Steve Johnson and Donald Jones brought the Bills to the Patriots’ 44 yard-line, but two injury timeouts left Buffalo with none remaining.
As running back C.J. Spiller hauled in a dump off pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick, took it 14 yards and ran out of bounds, it seemed like the Bills would steal one away from the Patriots for the first time at Gillette Stadium. All they needed was a touchdown.
‘I had every idea we were going to score and win the ballgame by one,’ Bills head coach Chan Gailey said after the game. ‘I mean, that was my total thought. I just knew we were going to do that.’
But that thought was spoiled on a miscommunication between Fitzpatrick and rookie receiver T.J. Graham, as Fitzpatrick was intercepted in the end zone by Devin McCourty with 23 seconds remaining in the game. A Patriots kneel down was all it took to rip the hearts from Bills.
Gailey said that Graham breaks the rout depending on the look the defense gives him. He chose to try and sneak behind McCourty, while Fitzpatrick threw for a rout across his face. Gailey said he’ll have to go back and look at the tape for more analysis.
With the win, the Patriots not only kept an unblemished record at Gillette Stadium against the Bills (now 11-0), but they also completed the 22nd sweep of the AFC East foe all-time in a series that began in 1960.
The Patriots have won 64 times over the Bills in history, which is the highest win total against any single opponent. And Tom Brady now has 20 regular season victories over the Bills ‘ his most against any team in his career. Read the rest of this entry »
|11.11.12 at 6:48 pm ET|
FOXBORO — When all was said and done at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots narrowly escaped the Bills with a win, thanks in large part to a penalty-ridden Buffalo team Sunday. The Bills racked up 14 total penalties for a total of 148 yards and still managed to gain 481 yards of offense, including 162 on the ground against the league’s eighth-best rush defense.
On the first offensive series alone for the Bills, a third-and-1 situation turned into a third-and-26 after three consecutive flags were thrown ‘ two for a false start and one for holding. It was certainly an indication of the way things would turn out.
After the game, Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson said that some of the defensive pass interference calls against his team were ‘bogus,’ because the same calls could have gone both ways yet it seemed like the yellow laundry didn’t fly as much for the home team.
‘We’d go down and have a fade rout, and the guy’s, he’s holding me too,’ Johnson said. ‘I’m not saying that his was a pass interference either, but if you called it on Stephon [Gilmore], you have to call it on their defensive player also.
‘It’s something that we’ve got to fix as far as offsides go. We’ve got to fix that on our own. But some of the calls were pretty weak, and some of it was football.’
Gilmore said afterwards that he didn’t know what else he could do to try and defend the throw, and tried to explain the pass interference call on him.
‘I don’t know what happened. I don’t know what else I can do,’ Gilmore said. ‘On the first penalty, he ran into me, and the ball bounced off of him. On the second penalty I was running with him and he tripped on my feet, and they threw the penalty on me.’
There is no timely penalty in the NFL, but for the Bills it seemed that some of the flags thrown came at points during the game when the Patriots struggled to get offensive production. Safety George Wilson said that ultimately it came down to the fact that they put themselves in a tough position to win based on their foul trouble.
‘They started calling the game real closely on their own,’ Wilson said. ‘[The Patriots] weren’t moving the ball with offensive production. It wasn’t anything they were doing to us; we just have to be smarter and not put ourselves in that position.’
|11.11.12 at 6:15 pm ET|
|11.11.12 at 6:03 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Chris Price and Mike Petraglia break down the Patriots’ 37-31 win over the Bills Sunday at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots allowed a franchise record 35 first downs and 481 yards to the Bills and needed a Devin McCourty interception in the end zone to preserve the win that improved the team to 6-3, two games ahead of the Dolphins in the AFC East.
|11.11.12 at 4:19 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots jumped to a double-digit lead and held on down the stretch Sunday against the Bills, outlasting Buffalo, 37-31 at Gillette Stadium. With the Bills driving for what would have likely been a game-winning touchdown, defensive back Devin McCourty picked off Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in the end zone to end the game.
Quarterback Tom Brady finished the game with 23-for-37 for 237 yards, while running back Stevan Ridley added 22 carries for 98 yards. Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick was 27-for-41 for 337 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception. New England improved to 6-3 on the season, while the Bills dropped to 3-6.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
‘¢It wasn’t a textbook example of four-minute football, but the New England offense was able to put together a nice sequence at the end of the contest to close out a game that was tougher than many expected. With the feisty Bills down by three in the fourth quarter — thanks in large part to Fitzpatrick’s ability to find some holes in the middle of the field — the Patriots were able to put together a 14-play, 59-yard drive (with 24 yards coming from Ridley) that stalled out in the red zone, but ended with a 27-yard field goal with just over two minutes left to make the score 37-31.
‘¢On an afternoon where the Patriots honored the greatest third-down back in the history of the franchise, it was the modern-day equivalent who provided them with an offensive boost. Danny Woodhead was impressive on the afternoon, particularly on a second-quarter scoring drive where he accounted for 37 of the 83 yards on the series, including a 15-yard scamper where he wasn’t touched on the way to the end zone. He finished with a pair of touchdowns on the day — his second came on an 18-yard reception in the third quarter.
‘¢For the Patriots, one of the positives was the work of the officials. The Bills were flagged for more than 100 yards on the afternoon, with perhaps the most egregious flag coming in the first half when Buffalo’s Stephon Gilmore was hit with a 37-yard pass interference penalty that put the ball on the New England 1-yard line. The ball, a pass from Brady to Brandon Lloyd, certainly didn’t appear catchable, but Gilmore was called for the penalty nonetheless after he collided with Lloyd. Two plays later, Brady hit Rob Gronkowski with a 2-yard touchdown catch — the first TD of the day for the big tight end — to make it 24-10 with 3:54 remaining in the half. (On the drive, 69 of the Patriots’ 82 yards came off penalties.)
‘¢The Patriots forced just one pick from Fitzpatrick (who had 16 interceptions in six previous games against the Patriots), but they also came away with a pair of takeaways. The first came in the first quarter when Vince Wilfork strip-sacked Fitzpatrick. The ball was recovered by Jermaine Cunningham at the Buffalo 13-yard line, and the Patriots quickly turned that into a touchdown, as Stevan Ridley went in three plays later from the one to make it 10-0 with 3:54 left in the first quarter. The second came in the fourth quarter when, with Buffalo in the New England red zone, Fred Jackson fumbled the ball away — the fumble was forced by McCourty and recovered by cornerback Kyle Arrington.
WHAT WENT WRONG
‘¢The Patriots continued to give up big chunks of yardage in the passing game between the numbers. On “NFL Sunday” before the game, when it comes to defending Fitzpatrick, Faulk said that one of the things Patriots coach Bill Belichick stressed for years was that you had to make him throw it outside the numbers. But for much of the afternoon, Fitzpatrick was able to get lots of yardage in between the numbers, particularly on pass plays to tight end Scott Chandler, as well as the occasional screen pass to one of the running backs.
‘¢The Patriots run defense yielded a season-high 162 rushing yards, with Jackson finishing with 80 yards on the ground and Spiller adding 70 yards. The previous high was 123 yards in a Sept. 23 loss to the Ravens.
‘¢Left guard Logan Mankins limped off at the end of the Patriots first drive of the second half with a left ankle injury. That, compounded with the back injury suffered by right guard Dan Connolly, and the already thin interior of the New England offensive line got even thinner.