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Snap Judgments: Bills 34, Pats 31

09.25.11 at 4:24 pm ET

The Bills snapped a 15-game losing streak to the Patriots on Sunday, rallying from a 21-0 deficit to knock off the Patriots by a 34-31 final in a wild contest at Buffalo. A shootout was expected and a shootout occurred, as both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tom Brady went over 300 yards passing in the contest. Turnovers, penalties and more struggles from the defense were the story for the Patriots, now 2-1 on the season and a game behind the Bills in the AFC East standings.


— Brady now has more INT’s in 2011 (six) than he had last season (four). A four-pick game for Brady, matching a career-high and most in a regular-season game since 11/5/06 (Indianapolis). All four led to points (24 in total), most notably his final INT, a pass that bounced off the helmet of Marcell Darius and into the arms of Drayton Florence, who returned it 27 yards for a TD that gave Buffalo a 31-24 lead.

— Another very shaky performance for the defense, which allowed 448 total yards. After the two early interceptions, Ryan Fitzpatrick settled down, finishing with 369 yards passing and two TDs.. Fred Jackson had only 12 carries, but rushed for 74 yards and a TD. After the Brady-to-Welker TD to tie the game at 31-31, the Bills shredded the Patriots defense on the game-winning drive.

Devin McCourty struggled in coverage for the third consecutive week, as he was beat by Stevie Johnson for an 11-yard second-quarter TD. He was also beat by Donald Jones on a 29-yard pass on the final drive of the game. If you want to give him a pass for Brandon Marshall and Vincent Jackson that’s OK, but there is no one on the Bills’ roster in that class.

Chad Ochocinco had a nightmare game, dropping a clear touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and running a terrible route on Ledois McKelvin’s INT. Not sure if it’s awe, a lack of playbook knowledge or a case of a guy hitting the wall, but so far the Ochocinco era has been a flop.


Wes Welker was an absolute force on the opening TD drive (and throughout the game), catching four passes for 67 yards, including the 14-yard touchdown catch. Welker finished the game with 16 catches for 216 yards (both team records) and set the franchise record for consecutive games with at least one reception (64, record was held by the aforementioned Coates). Welker made an incredible leaping catch on 4th-and-4 at midfield (on the play after the Ochocinco drop) to keep the fourth-quarter drive going. Welker finished the drive with another fourth-down catch (with terrific work by the O-Line) for a TD. Just an incredible effort by Welker, as good as you’ll ever see from a receiver.

— Not since the salad days of Ben Coates (think 1994-95, when he averaged 90 catches a year) could a reasonable Patriots fan make the case that his/her team had the best tight end in football. It’s very early in the career of Rob Gronkowski, obviously, but he’s already done enough to be at least in the mix when the top at his position are ranked. Two more touchdown catches for Gronkowski on Sunday, and his five TDs on the season lead the NFL. As was the case with Eric Weddle last week, Gronkowski is simply too much for safties and cornerbacks to handle, taking advantage of matchups with Jairus Byrd throughout the game on Sunday.

Kyle Arrington had a pair of first-quarter interceptions (and nearly had a third pick on the final Buffalo drive of the first half). The first INT was a result of a tipped pass intended for Donald Jones (with Devin McCourty covering Jones), and the second on a lousy 4th-and-14 throw by Fitzpatrick.

— Tom Brady had four interceptions on Sunday (more on those later), but he put up some huge numbers once again in the win, throwing for 386 yards and four TDs.

— Zoltan Mesko’s knee was not a problem on Sunday, as the second-year punter boomed a 57-yarder in the first half, and also pinned the Bills inside the 10-yard line with a third-quarter punt (Mesko also did a nice job as a holder, picking up a bad snap and getting it in place in time for Stephen Gostkowski to make a 23-yard third-quarter field goal).



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