|09.30.12 at 7:54 pm ET|
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The imagery was powerful.
After one of the most physical games of his star-studded career, there was Vince Wilfork wearing a black t-shirt with two classic shots of Jimi Hendrix.
Just ask Donald Jones and he’ll tell you about the haze that Wilfork left him in after the Patriots defensive lineman crushed him in the fourth quarter of the Patriots’ 52-28 win over the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The veteran defensive lineman tipped a passed that resulted in an interception, he recovered a fumble as the Bills were going in for a touchdown before the half before demolishing Jones with a crushing hit over the middle as the Patriots used big hits and big defensive plays to turn the tide in the second half. The hit was so violent – and clean – that it knocked Jones sideways.
The Patriots trailed 21-7 after Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Jones for a 67-yard TD over the middle early in the third quarter. Then the big plays and big hits began.
“Continue to execute,” Wilfork said. “We were giving up big plays and we were shooting ourselves in the foot, offensively. Just going out in the second half, we just wanted to play better football for 30 more minutes and we got it together. We just kept our poise, and I think we showed a heart of a champion today. Being down on the road, dropped two in a row, backs against the wall and everybody kept their composure. We were poised, we executed well in the critical situations, came up with some big stops, big plays and that’s what we’re going to need going forward because it doesn’t get any easier for us. So we’re going to need to put these things together now.”
Brandon Spikes forced two Bills fumbles that resulted in two of Buffalo’s six turnovers on the day. Wilfork said it was Spikes that led the way, setting the stage for Wilfork’s huge hit on Jones.
“Anytime after a big play, you feel good, especially after a big hit,” Wilfork said. “I felt good, our defense felt good, the crowd felt good, the Patriots fans we had [in attendance behind Patriots bench]. That was a momentum swing. Sometimes, it’s not all about scoring or turning the ball over and stuff like that. It can be a simple play and it was. And once we had that play, everything fell into place for us and that’s what we’re going to need and you don’t know what it’s going to be each week. But whatever it is, we need to figure it out because I like that feeling.”
And as Brandon Bolden pointed out on the offensive side of the ball, Wilfork felt the key was composure in the second half when things were seemingly disintegrating.
“We kept our poise,” Wilfork said. “We knew coming here was going to be a tough game against a division team, especially against the Buffalo Bills [who] always play us tough, especially the first game. So, we just kept our poise, stuck together. We didn’t panic and we just executed. We did, so leaving the game with six turnovers, defensively playing well and all three phases helping one another with the field position, offense putting some points on the board and us getting some big stops. We all came together as one. We just need more of these, more consistency and move on to next week.”
|09.30.12 at 7:30 pm ET|
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Even undrafted rookie running back Brandon Bolden knew what it was going to take to get the Patriots back in the game Sunday when they trailed 21-7 in the third quarter.
“Composure,” Bolden said. “You have to keep composure no matter what happens on the field. We could have been down four touchdowns, or we could have been down 10 touchdowns. You just have to keep your composure and go out there and do your job.”
Bolden helped the Patriots make history Sunday in a 52-28 win over the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Ole Miss product gained 137 yards on just 16 carries and ran for his second touchdown in as many games helping the Patriots notch a pair of 100-yard rushers for the first time in 32 years. Bolden and Stevan Ridley — with 106 yards and two TDs on 22 carries — were part of a Patriots rushing attack that gained 247 yards on 40 carries.
“We just stuck to the game plan, and I did what I was asked to do,” Bolden said afterward. “We made the best out of every opportunity.”
Bolden was also part of NFL history as the Patriots became just the second team in NFL history with a pair of 100-yard rushers and a pair of 100-yard receivers as Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski each caught 11 passes. Welker gained 129 yards and Gronkowski gained 104. Bolden deferred all questions about the game plan to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and head coach Bill Belichick.
“You have to ask the offensive coordinator and coach because I have no idea,” Bolden said. “I was just doing what I had to do.”
Then Bolden had some fun with reporters.
“No offense, but it’s just like how you guys work to ask questions all day,” said Bolden with a smile. “Think about getting that perfect answer, and that’s how it feels. We get out there and do what we do, and it just feels great. All of that hard work.”
|09.30.12 at 7:12 pm ET|
Vince Wilfork‘s wife, Bianca — also known on Twitter as “@Mrs75″ — liked this hit on Donald Jones of the Bills. She surfaced it on Twitter (along with a photo of jetting back to New England from Buffalo with Bill Belichick‘s girlfriend, Linda Holliday, and Jerod Mayo‘s wife, Chantel).
|09.30.12 at 5:54 pm ET|
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — WEEI’s Chris Price has the highlights of Patriots 52-28 win over Bills.
|09.30.12 at 4:22 pm ET|
For the Patriots, the key moment in Sunday’s 52-28 win over the Bills came with 11:46 left in the fourth quarter. Stevan Ridley followed Dan Connolly (in at fullback) and Donald Thomas to the end zone for his second touchdown of the game, giving the Patriots a 35-21 lead that the Bills wouldn’t challenge. It was part of a stretch that saw the Patriots wipe out a 21-7 Buffalo lead by scoring touchdowns on six consecutive drives. The 45 points scored by the Patriots in the second half is a franchise record.
The Patriots began the drive at the Buffalo 42-yard line following a Fred Jackson fumble forced by Brandon Spikes, the second fumble forced by the linebacker on the day (and one of six Buffalo turnovers). The Patriots went to the ground to drive down the field, as Brandon Bolden and Ridley combined for 40 yards on three carries (two by Bolden for a total of 27 yards) to land at the Buffalo 2-yard line. After a first-down toss to Rob Gronkowski that was nearly intercepted (a strange call at best, given how the drive was progressing), Ridley rushed to the left side the TD.
That rush for Ridley was part of an astonishing afternoon of production for the Patriots rushing attack, as Ridley (106) and Bolden (137) both went over 100 yards, the first time since November 23, 1980 (Don Calhoun and Vagas Ferguson) that two Patriots backs had 100 or more yards rushing in the same contest. The Patriots, without Logan Mankins, rushed for 247 yards in the win, most since December 14, 2008 vs. Raiders (277 yards).
|09.30.12 at 4:19 pm ET|
BUFFALO — The Patriots spotted the Bills a 14-point lead, but came roaring back in the second half and posted a 52-28 win over Buffalo Sunday afternoon at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Quarterback Tom Brady ended up 22-for-36 for 340 yards and three touchdowns, while Brandon Bolden added 16 carries for 137 yards and one touchdown, Stevan Ridley added 22 carries for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Wes Welker finished with nine catches for 129 yards.
Thanks to some shoddy defense by the Patriots — and a monster performance from Buffalo tight end Scott Chandler — the Bills took a 21-7 lead into the third quarter. But 17-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Danny Woodhead, a four-yard dash from Brady, a 28-yard pass to Gronkowski and a two-yard run from Ridley combined to make it 35-21 midway through the fourth quarter. New England cruised down the stretch — eventually posting scores on seven consecutive possessions (six touchdowns and a field goal) — coming away with its’ second win of the season.
Here are a few quick notes:
WHAT WENT RIGHT
‘¢The Patriots showed real mental toughness on the road against a divisional opponent, posting a nice comeback win after struggling out of the gate. No one will mistake the Bills for the 1972 Dolphins, but they had New England in a real hole early on, going up by 14 points in the third quarter before the Patriots started their comeback. It was also interesting to see the Patriots close out the game — New England was up by nine with the ball midway through the fourth quarter against the Ravens and couldn’t seal the deal. On Sunday against Buffalo, the Patriots finished nicely.
‘¢Vince Wilfork made the biggest defensive plays of the season when, with the Bills knocking on the door at the New England 4-yard line end of the second quarter, the Patriots defensive lineman was able to come away with a fumble off a C.J. Spiller run. New England made sure to get out of the shadow of its’ own goal line and sat on the ball going into halftime, but it was the sort of game-changing play the Patriots needed in that situation to try and stop the bleeding. (Brandon Spikes knocked the ball away on that fumble, and forced another fumble late in the game, all while delivering some crushing hits.)
‘¢Bolden ran extremely well when given the opportunity. The rookie running back piled up some punishing yards on the afternoon, and was part of a running back tandem (along with Ridley) who topped 100 yards. It wasn’t even so much the yardage, but the way he ran — really hard and really physical. For what it’s worth, Don Calhoun (106) and Vagas Ferguson (100) were the last Patriots rushers to eclipse 100 yards in a game simultaneously. (That came back on Nov. 23, 1980 against Baltimore.)
‘¢After just missing out on a pair of potential interceptions last week against the Ravens, Devin McCourty hung on to his second-quarter opportunity, when he picked off a Fitzpatrick pass attempt meant for T.J. Graham that went deep down the Buffalo sidelines. A nice, aggressive play by the Patriots’ cornerback. He came away with his second pick of the game in the fourth quarter when he stepped in front of a pass for Stevie Johnson, picking off the ball and taking it down to the Buffalo 12. It was the second game of McCourty’s career where he came away with two interceptions.
‘¢There was no question about the health of tight end Rob Gronkowski — the big tight end, who was listed as questionable coming into Sunday’s game with a hip injury, had some big catches early, including a 41-yarder in the first quarter that helped set up the Patriots’ first touchdown of the game. He had a couple of bad drops in the first half — and sat out a few snaps here and there — but ended up with five catches for 104 yards.
WHAT WENT WRONG
‘¢Throughout most of the first half, the Patriots had defensive breakdowns across the board. New England was able to reverse the trend with the huge play by Wilfork at the end of the first half when he came away with the fumble, but you can make a real argument that the Patriots defense was responsible in large part for putting New England into that hole in the first place.
‘¢On the other side of the ball, the Patriots were able to force two first-half turnovers, but they couldn’t turn them into points. Meanwhile, the Bills cashed in when, one play after they forced a second-quarter fumble on Gronkowski, Fitzpatrick found Chandler with a 24-yard pass play in the corner of the end zone to tie that game at seven. (In that same vein, New England struggled to contain Chandler for much of the afternoon as the big tight end had four catches for 62 yards and two touchdowns.
‘¢Stephen Gostkowski missed a 49-yard field goal attempt early in the second quarter, going wide right, and he missed a 42-yarder wide left late in the second. It might not be too early to suggest that the Patriots have a kicker problem.
|09.30.12 at 10:32 am ET|
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