Key Moment: Two big takeaways fuel second-half comeback for Patriots
|01.01.12 at 5:51 pm ET|
FOXBORO — For the fourth consecutive week, the Patriots were able to turn well-timed turnovers into points, providing the key moment in their 49-21 win over the Bills in the regular-season finale for both teams.
On Sunday against the Bills, there were two big ones: The first one came with just over four minutes left in the third quarter and the Bills clinging to a 21-20 lead. With Buffalo facing a second and 2 at their own 28, Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick dropped back to pass and looked left. He flung a short pass out there, meant for wide receiver Ruvell Martin. The ball was picked off by Sterling Moore, who took it back to the Buffalo 25. New England then followed that up with a five-play, 25-yard drive that ended when Tom Brady hit Rob Gronkowski on a perfectly run route from 17 yards out. A two-point conversion made it 28-21, Patriots.
‘I just wanted to be physical at the line of scrimmage, and I knew the ball was going to have to come out quick,’ Moore said of the first of his two interceptions. ‘So after about five yards, I went to head back around and the ball was coming, so I just tried to dive in front and get my hands on it.’
On Buffalo’s next drive, Fitzpatrick managed to guide the Bills to the New England 32-yard line, and with a first and 10, Fitzpatrick went deep down the field for C.J. Spiller. This one was picked off by Devin McCourty, the second straight game where the Rutgers product was able to come away with a pick. McCourty took it back all the way to the Buffalo 47-yard line. After a 44-yard pass from Brady to Aaron Hernandez, BenJarvus Green-Ellis rumbled in from three yards out to give New England a 35-21 lead with 11:20 remaining in the game.
‘The ball got tipped, and I just remember in college, my defensive backs coach always used to say, ‘When you’re in the middle of the field, you can make a lot of interceptions on tipped balls,’’ McCourty said. ‘Once it was in the air, I was just trying to track it down and get to it.’